This is the person who is your mother or father's mother. She's old. She probably bakes amazing cookies or pies. You would never hang with her on a Friday night, but you love her nonetheless.

Enjoy them while you can, folks. Go visit them sometimes. Take them on errands or trips if they can't drive. Buy them nice presents--remember how they spoiled you rotten when you were a kid? Write them letters. Take a tape recorder and record them telling stories about their childhood. Tell 'em you love them. Enjoy them while you can.

I had three.

Mary was the one my father never met. Buried in Spokane.

Laura was a well-meaning stranger. A nurse.
Dad never knew the score until he hit fifth grade. Following a parent-teacher conference, his classroom teacher hit him with, "So - you're stephcild," or something equally wickedly lame. Blended families go under the rug.
Laura died this summer. I hadn't seen her in ten years, not since my grandfather's funeral. She had cancer.
Laura bought me a Pound Puppy one year for Christmas. I named it Lady. Then she had a fight with my Dad and the presents stopped coming.
Laura was a chain smoker.

Delna's my last surviving grandparent. Turned 75 a couple of days ago, and still kicking, brand-new artificial hip notwithstanding. I visited her is the hospital when she had the inferior organic hip replaced this summer. I realized I had never had occasion to visit her in the hospital before, but I probably would once more.
She came to visit me a few weeks after I left for school. We saw American Beauty, and she said it was trash.
When I was little I would throw all my belongings in a picnic basket and head to the farm to visit Grandma and Grandpa. I would go to church with her, and if nothing was doing on the farm, Grandpa would join. I got bored easily in church. Grandma would pull a little Tupperware container full of trail mix out of her purse and slide it across the pew. This kept me from noticing the boy in the row in front of me, who was wearing girls' dress shoes, complete with bow ties.
I remember my cranky grandma in the moments she wasn't cranky. Was it just me who could ever see her like that? Was it so rare for the rest of them?

Conflict that didn't ever end. Police scanner in her kitchen, by the fridge. So she could keep on top of who was in trouble in a one-cow town. Did she make me stay in to listen to it while she worked in the garden, or did I imagine that?

She has always been old even in the young pictures. I think she left my mother for a while but I've never been clear on that story.

I do not remember anything she wore although I spent hours with her, watching her drop bread dough on the floured counter and hit it and drop it again.

I remember her deep freeze full of what? I wasn't allowed to look in. What could she have needed all that space for, she lived alone. I could not ever imagine her as part of a family, as a face anyone might see every day.

My grandma, on my mothers side, passed away in 1994, after bowel cancer metasized. My grandparents resisted change for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, up till the age of 10 I spent 2 weeks every summer with them. Playing lawn bowls with them, helping my grandfather dig potatoes or peat then coming back to my grandmother cooking. She always refused to tell me her age, I only found out from the tomb stone. She took my side in arguments. She used to tell me stories about how my father was the bad boy in the village, and how she banned my mother from seeing him. They never had a telephone until I went to university and my mum and I paid for one to be installed so I could ring them. They had one of those light fibre lamps the first time around and thought it was the height of chic. She wrote on slate in school. I still have the sweater she knitted before I left. I still have the wallet she bought me, 12 years later, it's battered and unusable. After I left Ireland, I only saw her twice a year. I still only see my parents that amount.

When I saw her she was full of morphine. She had a 10 minute period of lucidity. She'd put makeup on because she knew I was coming. When she died, it was a Friday. My mother lied to me all weekend until I was back in work on Monday so I wouldn't have to be alone. I didn't go to the funeral. My mum and grandma had discussed it the month before, and thought I would get too upset.

Now when I go back to my parents, I drive the long way home. I stop somewhere and get flowers, dig a little hole on the top of the grave, and put them in. My mother doesn't know. I don't mind.

I've never really liked my grandmother.

I dont get along with anyone in my family, really. I suppose that's because I'm a very difficult person. But recently, I've started to enjoy... no, I think appreciate is the word... my grandmother's company. I never would have guessed, but she, like me, was a techie in high school.

The sad thing about our relationship is the way we grew closer- through a common enemy- my mother.

I know that she regretted having my mother, and now she feels bad that I have to suffer because of her mistake. But now Grandmother is dying. And strangely, I don't feel sad. I think she'll be happier that way. She hasn't had a happy life... my mother is the living manisfestation of that... so I'm hoping that we all get to go someplace nicer when we die. Because even though people make mistakes, we all deserve a second chance.

My grandmother died in 1994 from starvation and lack of care in Vietnam. I have never seen her before, I have never talked to her, written to her, or ever seen her. But sometimes I dream about her, and how she must have been like, to be so strong to endure through the Vietnamese conflict, her husband killed by communists and letting go of her children who fled to America while she stayed in her homeland.

My mother was very attached to her and continues to write letters to her even today, knowing that she has passed.

This is a poem I wrote for my grandmother:

to my grandmother

i never knew you as a person, i never saw you,
you were thousands of miles away, that’s all i knew,

i remember my mom sat there for hours writing letters,
about her garden’s flowers,
and how it’s so nice to live in this place,
and how her own son is such a disgrace,

it wasn’t that she didn’t know,
that you had passed away so long ago.

perhaps it didn’t matter, that you had passed,
she didn’t even care.
she enjoyed writing letters to you anyways,
it took away her despair.

sometimes she’d sit alone, staring off into space,
imagining your presence, your beautiful face,

she’d sit there for hours,
staring into thin air,
and sometimes i sat with her and tried,
tried to imagine you were there.

i could see you sitting in your chair,
sitting there with so much elegant flair,
beautifully dressed in a thick red gown,
in so much pain, but never letting yourself frown,

but it still baffles me – we have never met,
and still, you are the most beautiful person yet.

Grand"moth"er (?), n.

The mother of one's father or mother.

 

© Webster 1913.

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