Monday, December 28, 2009

Visit to GG

GG stands for Great-Grandma. She is my mother's mother and was a fantastic grandmother when I was a child. I really could not have asked for better. We spent lots of time with GG and my grandfather. They took us sledding and fishing and shopping and camping. My grandparents picked one weekend a month and took a different grandchild to shower love and affection on for the whole weekend. Things I remember doing on my weekends included working in my grandfathers garden and 'helping' him fix the roof. (Nothing was scary with Grandpa there) and going to the store (Ben Franklins or Uncle Bill's) with my Grandma and being told I could pick anything I wanted. The only thing I ever picked was a superball... it drove my grandma crazy that she couldn't talk me into something better. Both of my grandparents came to my high school graduation, and both of my graduations from college.

After my Grandfather and father died, my mother and grandmother bought a house together. Things changed then. Grandma needed my mother for company and care and my mother needed my grandmother for financial support. Their relationship began to deteriorate and they both felt stuck.... And miserable.... And they did not suffer in silence. A few years later, when my mother passed away my grandmother refused to go to the funeral. Then she took down all pictures of my mother off her walls and only talked about her two boys... to the point where people in her nursing home did not even know she ever had a daughter. This was very hard on my sisters and I but we tolerated it because of the history and the love we had always known from her. About 7 years ago, I gave my grandmother a "grandma's memories" book. It asks questions like: What is your best memory as a child? -- Describe your school...each time I visited my grandmother told me she was working on the book. Finally, after 2 years she gave me the book on Christmas. When I got back to my sisters house I read the whole thing.

Towards the end of the book was the question... "What is your biggest regret?" All she wrote was "my daughter" I felt so many things... devastated and hurt and sad and shocked... and mad. I wrote her a letter and told her how disappointed I was. That I wanted my kids to read this book and they would never really get to know my mother and I asked why would she write that knowing the book was for me. I told her how disappointed I was that my kids would never have my parents to be the grandparents like they had been to me. I reminded her how good my mother was to her until she started getting sick and really wasn't nice to anyone. She never responded to my letter. She cancelled the next years Christmas party.

Three years ago when she turned 90, I sent another letter with a birthday card. I told her that I wanted to just move forward. She was turning 90 in April and I was turning 40 in June. If she just sent me a card for my birthday I would know everything was ok. June came and went... no card.

I met with our church rector this year and told him I wanted to fix this relationship. He prayed with me but did not really grasp the depth of the issue. (He thought she was un-accepting of my lifestyle.... which was never an issue with her) but one thing he did say was that God helped us know what things were really important. As we were praying together, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe what she regretted was how things turned out with my mother. Maybe I had interpreted it wrong... or maybe I just did not want to be at odds with the oldest living relative I had anymore.

I was miserable just thinking about the visit. I have no idea what I thought would happen. It is not like this 93 year old woman could manhandle me out of her nursing home! But I was scared of what she'd say. Would she say she regretted me too? I took Pepper and Dori and our cute little puppy for back-up and dropped the other kids off at my sisters. Pepper picked out a perfect little gift on the way that I carried in to her room like a shield. When I handed it to her, she said, "You did not have to bring a gift, Pixie... you being here is present enough." We stayed about 2 hours, it went well. I left happy. :)

1 comment:

  1. Ilene....I am so happy that you were able to move forward with GG!!!! I know how difficult it is when their is tension/misunderstandings that separate loved ones. It warms my heart to have read your story and to know that you had a nice visit. May things continue to move forward and communications prosper as the new year begins!!!!!

    Love, LINDSEY