Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Parting Gifts

My maternal grandmother was not a nice person. Granny was a unique personality, with a 'get off my lawn' temperament, even toward her own family. She treated people badly, and was never known to keep her harsh opinions to herself.

Granny would bad talk my father, no matter what a good husband, father or worker he was. He had just 'made her list' for daring to marry my mother. Even with her grandchildren there was no gentility. A 5 year old wearing anything resembling the color purple would be openly called a tramp. Granny didn't like purple in any shade.

No doubt the woman was a fruit cake not mentally stable and needless to say, I never enjoyed her company. Visits in 15 minute spurts were enough were enough to burn off years of time in purgatory long enough.

As a teen, growing up in the 'hood, I was smart enough not get busted very often a relatively good kid, compared to the frequent precinct visitor cards of many my age. but when I did get busted by my parents they went completely old school on my butt. Hence, I became smarter if not wiser for self preservation purposes and limited these ungodly beatings teachable moments to a minimum. Still, from time to time my plans went awry and my parents would bust me. These were moments of great fear.

One morning, during Sophomore year, I woke up for school and headed down the stairs to find both my parents sitting on the couch together. Immediately my hackles went up and my body temp must have dropped by 10 degrees. Dad was always gone for work well before anyone in the house was awake. Dad never used sick days unless he was direly sick. Dad was sitting on the couch with Mom.

My life literally passed before my eyes, when Dad flatly said "Come here, we need to talk to you." Not in a nostalgic way, but like a Rolodex of all the recent activities I've been involved in and I had to quickly figure out which one I was about to die for. What had they busted me for? What would be my story? Did I have catchy epitaph? If Dad missed work for this I was surely about to be sent back to the manufacturer.

I know I was sweating and am surprised that I wasn't sweating blood. My heart raced as I approached the couch and feared for what would happen next. "Granny passed away overnight" was all my father said as he held my mother. It was all I could do to contain my relief and glee. I have no idea of how I held back a beaming smile or the pure joy I had for life at that moment. My relief was palpable, yet if noticed had gone unmentioned.

This was the kindest act my grandmother had ever done for me and I loved her for it.

I hugged my mother and told her that I was sorry for her loss before gathering my things and heading off to school with a bounce in my step and a new lease on life.

Years later, as an adult and with time having mellowed Mom, I told her this story and watched her laugh. She said "You can thank Granny when you see her see her heaven someday". I said, "if that's where she is".

I wonder is Vegas can offer odds?

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Mr. Man said...

It's sad that she was such a crab apple that her passing brought you glee.Unfortunately, people like that miss out the opportunity to change, thus missing life's little joys.

Heather said...

i can totally remember those feelings of absolute dread & fear when seeing both my parents home from work, or doing something not ordinary for them.


seashore subjects said...

Oh, the joy a little bad news can bring. Just goes to show that teens are all about one thing - teens. (and it must pass, because look at you today)

Momo Fali said...

If that's where you're going.

Teacher Tom said...

It does sound like she had mental issues. It's incredibly sad when those issues take a form that drives people away.

Whatever the case, however, it sure sounds like you don't want to wind up in the same place she did. =)

Michelle said...

Oooo your granny would have hated me. I'm wearing purple right now. It's my favorite color, and I would NOT have given it up for her. Here's hoping she found a way to happiness.

surprised mom said...

Since I also had parents who had no trouble "busting" their kids, I can well imagine your relief. It's kind of a sad/funny story. Glad you could share it with your mom later in life. Sometime I'll tell you about one of my grandparents who still lies in an unmarked grave. . .

de-I said...

I totally remember the fear of getting busted. I'm not sure my kids ever felt it.

I love when you go back and tell these stories. You have a great facility to put your personal history into story form.

WeaselMomma said...

@ Mr Man ~ My glee was not caused by the news of her death as it was ~I was somewhat indifferent to that~ it was great news to me because it meant that I wasn't about to bet the beat down.

@ Heather ~ That was never a good sign,

@ Seashore ~ It seems to be an affliction that time and maturity cures.

@ Momo ~ You're too right. I bet pull my act together.

@ Teacher Tom ~ Granny definitely had some major mental issues. I can't be sure where she wound up, but I know where I'd place my bet.

@ Michelle ~ Mom used to beg us not to wear purple when we would be seeing Granny. She would get huge amounts of grief about it.

@ Surprised ~ Oh, I look forward to hearing that one!

@ de-I ~ Thank you, what a wonderful compliment. I pray that my kids never feel that level of fear of getting busted.

terri said...

I feel sorry for you having had such a mean spirited grandmother. Mine were both wonderful women, but my maternal grandmother was something special. She's been gone many, many years, but thinking of her still often leaves and ache and brings tears to my eyes. She loved life and every member of her family unconditionally.

WeaselMomma said...

@ Terri ~ Mental illness, especially unchecked and treated can do damage to more person than one.

Melisa with one S said...

I like the color purple alot; your grandmother would've hated me.

Great post: and I LOVED Momo's comment. (sorry)

Otter Thomas said...

Very interesting post. I definitely can relate to the fear you must have felt coming down the stairs. At least you didn't start confessing too soon.

WeaselMomma said...

@ Melisa ~ I was fond of Momo's comment too.

@ Otter ~ I wasn't bush-league enough to confess anything before I had too. I knew what was coming down the pike would not be improved whether I owned up to it or not.

The Devoted Dad said...

As an adult I think about all the people that I characterized and wonder what they were really like and what did they think about life in general. They were probably not much different than I remember them, and as an adult I probably give them more of a the benefit of the doubt. - Jason

Mrs4444 said...

That is so funny!!! There are so many stories about wonderful grandmas. You never read about the bitchy grandmas. Way too funny.

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