Thursday, December 13, 2007

I'm not myself; I miss my grandma(s)

Trying to blog when still mentally in mourning and in other random grief from a crappy week really sucks. On Monday, I thought I was over it, at least mostly. People die, but really, what can you do about it? You're left, you go on, there's life, it's part of the life cycle, etc. etc. etc. And when the folks who die are over 80 you believe you should be more numb, but you're not.

This week, I thought I was over the hard part. Until I realized that I wasn't able to banter anymore. This was quite stunning to me. There are some folks I interact with where banter is the norm. It's expected. And sometimes it's slightly off-color, but always harmless. But this week, when the routine banter was begun, and I kinda just hung there. Stunned. Not by the content of the other person's conversation, but by my pure inability to respond. Couldn't react. Couldn't say funny things. Couldn't be flippant. Couldn't joke around. Just. Couldn't. Talk. And that in itself stunned me even further (most who know me know that talking is something I probably do a little TOO much of ... so me speechless ... that's a true oddity). And while it was quite disconcerting to find myself so speechless, it did make me realize that I'm still in mourning for my two grandmothers who died last week, and for how the other chaos ... personal and that of my many loved ones ... affected me, and still affects me. And I'm realizing that I'm not reacting to things normally, and am trying to use caution in what I say and do, because I'm not myself at the moment.

I'm more myself than last week. And more myself today than Monday, and Tuesday ... but I'm not quite up to par. So if you see me on the street and I seem a bit dazed or not quite myself, just remember: I'm not myself.

Craziness of grandmommy deaths aside, the final of my three grandmothers to die this year was the grandmother who was my second mother. She was a teacher, a writer, a communicator, a creative type who cared for her fellow humans in a way so many of her generation at least outwardly did not. We lived in the same house for the majority of my 18 years in my parents' home, and I thought she was the norm. I later discovered she was not.

This particular grandmother was a farm girl from South Dakota who survived the Depression before moving with her family to Portland. She was going to be a journalist, but became an English teacher. She was also, I believe, Oregon's first Outdoorsman to be a woman. (Had to utilize survival skills to spend a couple nights in the snows of Mt. Hood ... during which time she found out she wasn't really in menopause.) She always wrote ... poetry, stories, and even an article that was published in The Oregonian about how she and my grandfather for awhile lived in a fully furnished bus, complete with stand-up piano, while they were still students at Oregon State University. That Oregonian article, I believe, was as widely published as my grandmother ever went. But not due to lack of talent. She just spent the majority of her time with people ... helping people, listening to people, advising ... than she did with spending time marketing her writing.

Growing up with her in the same house, I had the luxury of having this talented writer and editor as my personal essay editor as a child. I have many memories of venturing into my grandparents' bedroom and sharing stories and essays and poetry. Getting real feedback and many compliments. My grandmother nurtured my love of writing for ages. And when I write, she's very alive in my mind. Offering grammar and content feedback. Always telling me she's proud of me and loves me. My son says it best: "My grandmas are not dead; when I look in my head, I still see them."

Even in her last two weeks, as my grandma fought pain and debilitating dementia, she quite deliberately looked me in the eye and told me how proud she was of me. This was a tradition long held. And my long-held response: I'm so proud of you. I'm very proud of my grandmother. She was loving and kind, open-hearted an honest. My grandparents opened their doors to different cultures, races, sexual orientations, life stories, and pretty much every demographic there was and is. Forgiveness, love, compassion ... they lived those words. I am proud of my grandparents; I miss my grandmother. She was my second mother ... and that fact paralyzes me still.


amocat said...

damn it! You are making me cry again!

This little piece opened up the flood gates: My son says it best: "My grandmas are not dead; when I look in my head, I still see them."

I still remember all the time I spent with her. She really was as wonderful as you describe. Tough but sweet.

Tell E. that I see them too.

Thanks again for your WONDERFUL words!

I think we need to go and have a few beers or glasses of wine.


tacomachickadee said...

K ... E also said, before the other two grandmas passed, how, before he wakes up, he sees grandma jeri playing fetch with kisa (our former cat) and crookshanks (mom & dad's recent dog), along with his imaginary friends. And kisa usually beats crookshanks, oddly enough. He's my little philosopher, that one. Recently, apparently, god also apparently told him he was going to put kisa back on earth ... and a few other things I'll share when we we all get together in person ... soon! Miss you!

Jenny said...

My sweet girl, much love to you. And I'm starving to hear what else E said! I hope to see you soon, will be looking for you on Sunday.

Nico said...

I found this entry while googling for "I miss my grandma". Good write up. I admit it made me cry. I miss my grandma too. ::hugs::