In the bubbling over bubble that is social media, we tend to only share our proud moments. The moments we would want others to see. The honor roll sticker shit.
But, life isn’t like that. Life isn’t all A plus pluses, and if it is, get out of the classroom and fail, otherwise you’ll grow into an annoying human who thinks they have all the answers.
My grandmother died yesterday. She was the last of my grandparents still living. We were a world and two generations apart, and we were not close. It’s not that I hated my grandmother, more an indifference born through decades of one-sided interactions. She loved me, or the idea of me in her own way, and I would say it back because I couldn’t take one of the last things she gripped so tight, nor did she have the mental faculties to comprehend any kind of rebuttal I could give.
My grandmother had an extremely horrific childhood. I don’t know most of the details, but her early life in Chicago was broken and full of suffering. Still, she wasn’t dark or evil, yet the whole time I knew her she said things that were hurtful, out of place, and demeaning to other colors and types of people. She was scared. She was bitter. She was angry. She was perpetually unhappy and these tendencies pushed away everyone she knew in her life.
The only person she had in the end was her only son, my father, arguably and IMO one of the best humans on this planet, who just wanted to lessen his mother’s suffering which she created endlessly herself. He threw himself into the storm of it for years and now it has abated. Slipped into silence. And just as we all learned a lot from that storm. Be kind. Accept others. Seek first to understand. Don’t sweat the little shit. I think we can learn just as much from the silence of her passing.
I was unemotional when I heard yesterday morning. A mix of guilty relief and sadness for my father at the loss of his mother. This morning in the early hours she came in my dreams. I woke and walked up some stairs, it was like her home in Tomah, but different. A mix of Tomah and my childhood home. She was cooking. Not speaking at all. My mother was there, smiling, sitting at the counter, but she couldn’t see her. We woke my father up. He sat at the kitchen table. She came over and leaned against the wall. He couldn’t see her either.
I asked her who her favorite person was in this world. She looked up and said, “Oh, my son.” I said, “He’s right here and he loves you.” And we all cried.
I woke up with tears in my eyes. The first ones.
So Grandma, thank you for raising my father, for feeding him, for loving him, and providing him with more questions than answers, and oh so many struggles that made him who he is today. And thank you for the lesson that life is short and that I must always appreciate others…you too.