I’ve been putting this blog, “Unpleasant Memories of Grandma,” on hold. Why? Because I didn’t want to deal with negative feedback from family members who had better experiences with her. Since I lost my Facebook account, I felt this would be a perfect time. For anyone who feels offended by my post, please remember this was my authentic experiences with her.
Today when I think about my grandmother, it’s a funny feeling because even though I forgave her, I still don’t like her. Let’s go back to my first important memory.
“Why did you have to throw up in the sink? Why didn’t you throw up in the toilet? Now I have to clean up this mess!” Those words of anger spoken by my grandmother will be forever stamped into my brain. She ignored my words about how I couldn’t make it to the toilet, nor did she care that her eight-year-old granddaughter didn’t feel well. It still baffles me why grandma never noticed I was drunk or how that could have been possible from a tiny amount of Passover wine in my glass. She never knew how I went around the table drinking out of unattended glasses of wine.
Early Unpleasant Memories of Grandma
Grandmother often disregarded my opinions. A classic example was when her granddaughter (from her son) was getting married. My father told his mother-in-law he would buy my sister’s and mine’s dress from the store. She poo-poohed that and insisted on sewing them. Then she asked us what types of dresses we wanted. I still cringe when I think about the ugly dress she made for me, which totally differed from what I asked for! Even worse, it made me look like I was pregnant. Grandmother never fixed the dress, ignoring my numerous requests to take it in. I felt so embarrassed wearing this horrible dress to the wedding. How I bite my tongue whenever someone complimented it.
Grandma favored her son and his family with words or actions around me, which is why I often felt like a second-class citizen at family events. This wasn’t my imagination. Once when my sister and I slept over at our grandparent’s house. My sister woke me up with tears streaming down her face because she had snooped around looking for our holiday gifts. She found one present for each of us and twenty presents for our male cousin.
At one family event, I got up the courage to tell my grandmother what I thought of her. It felt so good to finally get it off my chest for about twenty seconds. Then the adults reprimanded me and someone yelled, “What a horrible child I was!”
Later Unpleasant Memories of Grandma
Fast forward to my mom’s funeral. My dad attended, even though he remarried years ago. After the service, he told me, “I thought about it. You and your sister should have been sitting in the front for your mother’s service instead of the back.” I replied, “No, dad. It was supposed to be that way.” He gave me a shocked look before we went to bury mom.
By that time, I was used to my grandma’s treatment. Family members surrounded her in the front row. It never crossed her mind to invite the two children who came from her daughter’s womb to sit up front with her. I count my blessings that I was allowed to speak at my mother’s service.
The last time I saw my grandmother was when she was preparing to move from her apartment into an assisted living home. She laid out jewelry for me to choose from. It was cheap costume jewelry, which I wouldn’t even buy at a secondhand store. Except for a gold Jewish star pendant, there were diamonds within the star. I prefer silver, but wanted something nice from my grandmother. As I went to reach for it, she exclaimed, “No, not that one!” A family member convinced her to let me have it. If she didn’t want me to have it, why would she even show it to me? Years later, I hocked it when money was tight to buy food and pay a bill.
There were no tears shed upon hearing of her passing. I declined when my sister asked me to ride with her family to grandma’s service. The idea of sitting there while listening to what a wonderful woman she was turned my stomach. That was their reality, not mine. It would have been disrespectful for me to speak of my experiences with her at the funeral. Besides, being called a horrible child once in a lifetime was enough.
What I Learned
Every relationship has lessons to learn and teach. Besides to always puke in the toilet, I learned these three lessons:
- My grandmother was a product of her environment and she did the best she could. Perhaps I triggered an unhealed issue within her? Her opinions and treatment of me doesn’t define who I am.
- I do my best to treat people with respect, acceptance of who they are, and not to show favoritism.
- I only allow people in my life who love and accept me for who I am.
It’s not unusual for my departed loved ones to visit me while I am awake or in my dreams. My mom and two cats visited me in my dreams before they died. Even my parakeet, Birdy Bird, visited me several times while I was meditating after he had passed.
My grandmother never did. Many, many years ago, I asked her for a sign. A little later, I was walking and spotted a shining coin on the streets of Denville, New Jersey. Imagine my surprise when I saw it was a coin from Africa with an elephant on it. I love elephants and knew it was a sign from grandma. Although when I think about it, symbolically it makes sense. Our relationship was definitely in foreign territory. Or maybe we had lived a previous life in Africa and our karma became balanced?