Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Grandma Redux

I found out yesterday that Grandpa actually found Grandma on the floor beside her bed, which was rumpled and therefore slept in. She might have gotten up and collapsed from heart failure or a stroke; I'm fairly certain that it happened fast and she was probably gone before she hit the floor, though there really is no way of knowing.

Mom met with Aunt Lea and Grandpa at the funeral home yesterday to go over arrangements for cremation and interment. She stopped by on her way home, and we talked about the arrangements, and had a little cry and a hug, and she talked some about Grandma and how not very close they were. Grandma was pretty opinionated and heaven help you if you disagree... She wasn't mean tempered or anything, just persistent and kind of noisy. Mom said she just went along and was agreeable to avoid the hassle but in reality she actually agreed with Grandma on about ten percent of things.

The service is a week from tomorrow, then cremation the next day, then interment the day after. I will attend the service but not cremation, where they put you in a room and pull back a curtain and you watch them wheel the casket up to a hole in the wall that is the entrance to the crematorium. Then they close the curtain. Grandpa has opted to attend this and Mom feels she must go with him and support him although she might have chosen differently if it were entirely up to her. Interment is where they put the remains into the niche in the wall at the mausoleum. I am not sure if I will attend this. I don't want to appear insensitive, but as the official emotional conduit of the family (long story) I will cry a lot and I hate to burden my mother with that. She is having a hard enough time. Not only has she lost her mother but she is wading through the feelings of a lifetime of distance and the desire to be close to her mother and not having that. And now her mother is gone and it will never happen, and even though she probably knew it would never happen, it is still very final and over with now.

Which brings to mind all the feelings I have myself about my own mother, and all the things I keep meaning to say to her, and I have this sense now of running out of time...

It feels like poking a deep, deep bruise in your heart to think about all this, the matter-of-fact nuts-and-bolts business of handling the dead, the necessary arrangements, in relation to your Sweet Grandmother. I can't make the connection without falling apart so I don't. I don't make the connection, and if I do, I fall apart.

I haven't seen my Aunt Lea in fourteen years, since she and Mom had a falling out over how Lea was treating my Grandmother (long story steeped in disfunctional family crap), and I haven't seen my Uncle Marty in probably more than 20 years, and no one can find him right now. He is not at home. It's possible he has gone on a little excursion or something. Uncle Doug (whom I have seen perhaps three times in ten years) is going to look for him since he lives in the same general area.

Of my mother and her siblings, let's see. Mom is the most "successful" if you will, as she is married to a good man, has a nice home, financially comfortable, etc. Lea probably runs second in that she is also married and has a (presumably) nice home, but gets points off for a wicked temper and (hopefully) latent alcoholism, beaten into submission by a 30-day inpatient program a number of years ago. Marty, I don't know much about him anymore though last I heard he was very actively alcoholic and I think his wife left him. He has a grown daughter I have never met. Doug is perennially out of money (for instance, Mom is buying him a train ticket so he can come down for Grandma's funeral) and divorced, and in fact can't come down til after Thursday because he has a court date to do with visitation of his son. Who I met once as an infant. I think he's ten? eleven? years old now.

Not exactly the Waltons over here, is it? Such fragile, broken relationships we all have with each other.

No comments: