Friday, October 14, 2005

Still waitin' for that tractor...

Today, I realized the real reason why I had been in such a funk this week. It was the two year anniversary of my grandmother's death. She died on October 9, 2003 and was buried on the 11th.

Why, you ask, did it take so long for me to realize this? Good question. It's taken me all this time to process the whole mess of our relationship. The mess of her funeral is a whole other topic in itself.

I know the woman loved me, in her own way. She did help me out when I really needed it. She and my grandfather paid my college tuition all those years ago. She and my grandfather were also two of the few who stood up for me when the Heir Apparent to Hell (otherwise known as the second woman my dad married) went around the bend and well, she thought she could pick a fight with a thirteen year old kid and beat her domain out of me. My dad stood by the Heir Apparent.

My grandmother was also waiting for me at the front door when I got home from the hospital the night before she died. She had been in a coma for two days - I think she simply willed herself out and her body didn't catch on to the idea until the next morning. My mother and I could feel her presence for about two weeks afterward (in fact, she almost drove my mother to insanity. She said my grandmother was a constant presence, 24 hours a day, until my mother cleared up a bit of unfinished business between them.)

Still, in all the years I was around her, I always felt as if I was kept at arm's length, like an infrequent acquaintance. I always felt that it was because I refused to kowtow to her. She wanted everyone to think that she was the Matriarch of a wonderful family who thought everything revolved around her. All I wanted was a grandmother.

To be fair, I don't think my grandmother knew exactly how to relate to me. I wasn't interested in "high society," such as it was in that small town. I didn't much care what other folks thought of me either, as long as I treated them fairly and vice versa. In other words, I didn't put up a front.

She also always wanted me to be interested in talking about dishes, quilting and other "woman's stuff" but I was more interested in what was going on outside the house. Was Trixie's hooves still spreading all over the farm or had she gotten proper shoes? What kind of fish was the pond stocked with now? Was help needed with the hay?

I guess you can say our entire relationship could be summed up in a single conversation we had a year or two before she died. I had been out in the fields all morning, helping my dad bale the hay and we had come in for lunch. We were all sitting at the kitchen table when she told me in a great, expansive voice, "Some day when I'm gone, you will get all my dishes." The only thing I knew to say was, "But I'll still get the tractor, right?"

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