A lot happened last month, and of course it was accompanied by several unpleasant and unhappy situations, such as the death of my grandma, Mary. She died last Monday and was 86 years old.
Like most people, she wasn’t perfect. For example, she participated in the body policing that led to my current engrained negative perceptions of my own body during my formative years, something I don’t forgive her for. She gossiped a lot, and it was oftentimes annoying. However, when I or my sister or brother were hungry, she fed us; when we needed a place to stay, she sheltered us; if we needed money or anything she had to give, she gave it. She cared for us. Whenever her family needed something that she had to give, she did, she helped as much as she could. Quite frankly, I can’t understand how such stingy and selfish people as my aunts, uncles, cousins, and even members of my immediate family were born of someone so generous and open. Yet here we are.
Mary was sassy, kind, and had a sense of humor that her children (my aunts and uncles) didn’t seem to want to mention, which I thought was totally boring. Some of her most daring and dreaded catch phrases were “You a lie!”, “I ain’t studyin’ you!”, and “Shoot naw!”.
I had a lot of trouble expressing myself over her death when I was told. I was more outwardly emotional and upset when Tariq and Mimo, my brother and my cat, died, which bothered my sister. With Mary, it wasn’t like it was unexpected. She had dementia/Alzheimer’s for several years now. By the time, I went to college and came back, she didn’t even remember who I was, if my last encounter with her was any indication. This made it easier for me to accept that the Grandma Mary I knew was gone and the days me and my siblings spent with her at her house were gone and were never coming back. She had two mild strokes–the first stroke and the way my family (the ones financially able to pay for her care) neglected her prepared me for the eventuality that she might pass away soon. The second stroke ended her life last Monday. And so I found myself at a funeral that Friday, looking at many of the members of my family, most of whom I loathed. That Thursday, regardless of my wishes not to attend the funeral, I was forced to rely on the sparing, reluctant hospitality of my family and deal with their petty idiocy and serious psychological issues which they freely project on anyone they can.
At the time I found out, I was staying at my friend’s phony ass boyfriend’s house who clearly came out and said he never wanted me there in the first place among other things; I was trying to be social with people who I obviously didn’t fit in with, plus, I didn’t have much money, don’t like relying on others, and was feeling awkward relying on my friend who insisted on catering to me at least a little (I’m not the kid who did sleepovers, obviously). so I felt generally uncomfortable (but that’s another post); and finally, I found out that the storage unit I was there to deal with had been broken into at least twice–everything in my life up until 2011 is inside that storage unit and it was all thrown around like so much garbage like a landfill, some of it broken, and some of it stolen.
It seems odd because I was visiting Atlanta, my hometown, after borrowing and scraping up pennies to get there to deal with that storage business. Because of the mentioned circumstances I was in at the time, I didn’t want to go to the funeral. I was already under enough stress. But maybe I was supposed to be there, maybe I was in the right place at the right time. I couldn’t make the bouquet of roses I wanted because I didn’t have the money, time, or supplies to do so, but I cut the brown rose blossom I crocheted onto my purse and used that instead to put in her coffin.
Regardless of even more painful experiences formed and memories created, wounds and scars maintained and received, I was able to give a formal goodbye to my grandmother.
My fondest memories are sitting on my grandmother’s porch, next to her garden in the sun on a perfectly warm day, staring at the sky, feeling safe no matter how bad or sad things were for me-. Just sky-watching, knowing that this sky stretched on for miles and miles and that so many people existed under that blue sky. I believed during those times in the many possibilities of the world, and even if things were really bad, one of those possibilities of happiness would someday open for me. Mary, The Root, gave me that space to dream.
Live on in my heart.