I was very young when I realized the blurred lines between grandmother, mother, granddaughter. Each with our vices. Our head and heart hitches. Each infuriating. I’ve been slapped straight on the face. For telling her truth she didn’t like. For calling bullshit on the mind games. Knowing my mother learned it from her mother. We all want each other to be proud, to be pleased, to accept the women we are. We have all acted like the adult and more often like the child. I live in fear and brawl with fear and hate fear. And my grandma lives in the worst, most ridiculous fear of all of us. Fear of throwing anything away. Fear of the weather. Fear of anything-you-name-it.
Maybe crazy is a learned behavior. Grandma never wanted us to go outside. Or answer the phone. Or ride bikes or cross the road or try a new experience. I’ve inherited from grandma the same strange low self-esteem that comes off as vanity, the presumption that people are mean and everyone hates me and why should I trust you and “outside” is a dangerous place. I’ve learned from her my shutdown mode. My hesitation and excuses. My automatic jump to worst-case scenario and grudge with change and problem with not letting the past go. She is bitterness and beauty and prayers in middle of night and suffocating stalker love. Like me, she has a strange relationship with Church. She thinks my sister’s too skinny and my hair’s better blonde. She picks out the best birthday cards, plasters my pictures and writing on her refrigerator, makes the creamiest mashed potatoes, has the prettiest skin, and knows red is always classiest. At my wedding, she let go and danced like no one was watching. I was proudest of her right there. Right then.
She’s in the hospital. 9 inch tumor. Fears true.
I want to protect grandma in that hospital room from my mom’s harshness when life doesn’t go exactly perfectly right. I want to help my mom protect my grandma and comfort and show hope and love to her. I’m proud of my mom for making her go to the hospital. For being strength. For staying with her. For finding her the most comfortable pajamas. I fiercely love my grandma. And loathe so many of her ways of thinking and her way of living that is not real living. And here I am Waiting. Pacing. Muttering under breath, talking to myself like she does. Pleading prayers of don’t let this be cancer. Give her reason to believe that life is not all bad things. She can dust off bruised knees. She can see life can be more than sibling deaths and divorce and poverty and tests and trials and mental institutions. She can get herself unstuck. Live the rest of life not fearing all the things that shouldn’t have been feared.
I want us to dance again. With the music and the rhythm and the love blurring all the lines between grandmother, granddaughter, daughter.