Friday, July 11, 2008

The week that was / Memories

Well, it's been a while since I posted. I really do need to post more often, but inertia often takes over. . .

My job has me rotating back and forth from a week of day shifts (6am-2pm) to a week of afternoon shifts (2pm-10pm) and back and forth and so on.

My day shift weeks are tiring affairs. I really don't handle starting my day at 5am too well so, by Friday, I'm a little bit beat. I usually wind up having a late afternoon nap and then a lazy evening involving nothing more taxing than a rented movie or a good book.

This week has been particularly draining because it started on the saddest of notes. My grandmother, after being diagnosed only 4 days earlier, passed away from cancer on Saturday afternoon. You can rationalize and justify all you want but it still doesn't make up for the fact that a person you love is no longer there. The Saturday before, I was joking with her, kidding in the way we always did. A week later, she was a shell, hollowed by that horrible disease. And then she was gone.

I don't know where I am going with this post. I started with the intention of talking about my evening, reading by waning twilight on the roof of my building. Now, with words on (virtual) paper, my original vision seems far too trivial even for me, a man who thrives on the trivial.

Let's get this straight - my grandmother was a pain in the ass. She was demanding and vain, stubborn and sometimes selfish. She could manipulate with the best of them, keeping everyone running circles around her, doing her bidding.

She was also pretty incredible. She was never an apple pie and knitting sort of grandmother. In fact, we grandkids grew up calling her by her first name because she did not want people to know she was old enough to be a grandmother. She suffered a major stroke when I was about two years old. Still, bounced back and I can remember her playing softball and bowling regularly. Even in the last years, in very poor health, she made a point of getting up and playing in our somewhat annual family baseball game, if only for an at bat.

She drove a pick-up truck, largely because it gave her the chance to look down on people in a way her short height would not normally allow. She played lottery tickets with a vengeance and relished trips to casinos and slot rooms.

She came from a wonderfully musical family and once played the piano, though that was lost to the stroke. The grandmother I knew was still a fan and loved listening to people playing, especially live.

She loved the Leafs, but we forgave her for that. She loved them from the radio days and rarely missed a game on tv. It got to the point where even the more rational side of the family, those that cheer for the Habs, came to secretly root for the Leafs a little because she was so devoted to them. Of course, we'd never tell her that.

My sisters and father talk often of the time they took her to the east coast. She was in her late sixties at the time and had never seen the ocean before. It was one of those rare moments where she was truly at peace, watching the water and the whales.

It's funny how things change. I started by saying that she was a pain in the ass and I won't take that back. It was who she was. It was who we loved. Glossing over the truth would create a fiction where a memory should be. What's changed is that it seems so inconsequential, minor complaints in the face of a larger truth. The reality is that, for all the demands and the hassles, there is not a person in my family who does not wish we could do her bidding one more time, take her out for a meal or shopping, mow her lawn or plant her garden.

The evening after she passed, we had family over to my parents' new house, a wonderfully warm and inviting home on a hill in the middle of land that once belonged to my grandfather. The evening was a makeshift affair, take-out pizza and chicken, some baking brought by friends. It was an evening of talk and remembrance while we tried to cope with the shock of what had happened. Of course, even in moments of sorrow there can be instants of levity and we laughed at those, which was good.

At the end of it all, though, the evening lacked one thing. We all felt it and knew that the person who would have loved the evening the most was the one who was not there. That was a very bitter pill to swallow.


Dale said...

Sorry for your loss, Remi. Remember me to your dad.

John Mutford said...

Sorry I missed this post until now. My grandmother died last year, too. She was the apple pie sort of grandmother, but had her flaws as well. I miss her like hell though. I hope everyone is coping.