Grief (Part 1)

In January of this year, I lost my Grandmother. It was hard and sad but I find myself not overly grieving over her death, which comes as a shock to many in the family because I was close to her. Was being the operative word.

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Grandma Yarrington & I; I think I am about 1 or 2.

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Uncle Joe & I at a family reunion, probably about 2000. His wife, Arlene, had passed away at this point.

Two years ago, my Grandmother was dangerously sick and was placed in Hospice. Her kidneys and liver were not functioning and many of us thought she was near the end. A lot of grieving was done. But she bounced back and refused to let go. She went home to her trailer and refused for a nurse or nurse’s aid to come in and see to her well being. I should mention that she was notoriously stubborn. She went on dialysis and it seemed to do well for her. The two aunts who are close by are extremely inept and fought over every little thing to do with her health. One convinced my grandmother to give her power of attorney, which devastated my mom as she and her brother had it. My mom is a nurse and one would logically think she would be the nest person to handle medical issues. One would think, anyways. But these two aunts are inept and cruel, not to mention just all out exasperating. Both barred me from contacting my grandmother and they did, in turn, isolate her from the other grandchildren as well. To be fair, my grandmother was not particularly close to any of the grandchildren except for my bother and I. And I believe one of the reasons for this was because we lived in Illinois, not in Michigan, so we were conveniently distant from the day to day issues and anxiety that arose all the time. Grandma’s love was conditional.

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Grandma Weld (my Grandma’s Mom), and I in December 1982.

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My father and I at the same event as the previous picture.

It’s really sad to write this, but her love was conditional. When we were all little, she loved all of us and delighted in having the grandkids over for things like have ice cream or cookies, etc. But as we all got older, because my brother and I weren’t around, she grew distant from the others. Because they grew up and were no longer children. they had  thoughts and feelings that were not in line with her thoughts and feelings. And that’s hard to accept. I noticed that about 5 or 6 years ago, things began to drive my Grandmother from me. While she normally liked talking on the phone with me every week, she started to not want to talk to me. I would write letters and got no response, which I accepted since her hands weren’t as steady as they once were, but not being able to talk to her was hard. Now, I loved my Grandma. I really did and I still do. Nothing will ever change that. But Grandma wasn’t perfect. She was stubborn, quick to anger and slow to forgive. She was not a reader, so never understood my passion for books. Now, her husband, my grandfather, was a reader. It was something instilled in him by his mom, Edith. My grandfather died when my mom was a teenager so any information I have on him as a person came from my Uncle Joe, his brother.

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Dadi and I, 1981.

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My mom and I, 1981.

When Dadi died (my father’s mother), Grandma resented that I mourned her. Dadi is the one who gave me my name. She came over when I was born and spent months taking care of me. Like myself, she was a poet and was published (and well known). She knitted and loved me. And I loved her. I still love her. I am more like her than I care to admit with my short, fat fingers, my love of the Arts, and the poetry. Grandma resented that. So, the fracture betwixt us started when I was 12. She also resented that I grew close to my Uncle Joe.  In College, I would call him every week just to talk. Now, he didn’t always answer, being hard of hearing in both ears he would take out the hearing aids when he wanted quiet time to work on a crossword puzzle or when reading. He taught me how to fish. He and Arlene, his wife, loved Elvis (who doesn’t) and they just were a happy, loving couple. He was the closest thing I had to a grandfather on my mother;s side. I miss him a lot.

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My brother & I in front of the Giant Chicken that, sadly, has been removed in recent years. It used to be outside of a Fried Chicken Restaurant in Michigan.

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Grandma and her second husband, Turk. Both loved each other but were both stubborn. They divorced but still saw each other. He loved her until the day he died. This was taken on January 25, 1975.

But that’s not to say my Grandma was all terrible and ugliness. She thought it funny that I have a thing for Paleontology, so would often send me clippings of new Dinosaur or even findings in Egypt. She taught me to sing “Hey Good Lookin'” by Hank Williams by the time I was three and I still can sing it because I have it memorized. It’s also a very inappropriate song to teach a three year old, but I guess I was cute singing it. She taught me how to make very fine stitches when hand-sewing. She encouraged my drawing and musical skills like singing. Grandma had a led foot and could flirt her way out of a speeding ticket. She enjoyed watching the Winter Olympics because she used to ice skate. She used to bowl and be very good at it and I remember her taking me and teaching me to bowl using her ball. She liked the Beach Boys and Elton John. Grandma always had canaries growing up. She had a few finches later on too. She also had a thing for penguins because “they are always well dressed.” She also had a thing for Garfield the cat. Other than birds, Grandma wasn’t an animal person, but she loved our one dog Beethoven (he adored her) and thought our cats were funny. Grandma loved butter pecan ice cream, cherry cordials, and fruit Mentos. So, it’s not as if I don’t have any good memories.

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My Grandma, Doris Weld, summer 1943.

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Grandma, aged 75, in AZ on a Harley. She developed a taste for them in her late life.

Grandma also had a little girl (or young lady) ghost in her trailer. Apparently the spirit liked it when I visited when I was little and would touch my teddy bear (which I still have). Mainly, the ghost would sit on her feet, wake her up, and then go away. Now, I’ve never seen the spirit, but it was always a running joke that when her trailer became too crowded with all of her stuff (she was a hoarder), the ghost decided it was too crowded and left. Grandma also once made me promise to “take” the ghost with me when she died. I don’t think it’s possible and since I’ve never seen the spirit, I cannot “take” it with me. She also made me promise to write her eulogy. I believe she feared that no one would want to speak at her funeral. So I did write her one. I didn’t get a chance to deliver it and that’s OK. A pastor and my Uncle Bill spoke at her funeral. My aunts didn’t dress her int he outfit she wanted to be buried in, which I am still upset about. She didn’t look peaceful, but then the toxins in her body made her stiff and it wasn’t easy to prepare her. Yes, I spoke to the funeral staff to thank them. They did their best with the makeup as my one aunt refused to give them any of Grandma’s makeup. She also refused them to allow them to do her nails, which I think would have been nice. But I cannot change what happened.

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Teddy and I, 1982. That bear was already 20 yrs old when I got him. I still have him.

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Teddy at Camp Innisfree (Howell, MI) in 2012. Still here. Still a bear.

I’m trying not to sound flippant but no matter how much it upsets me over things like her clothes, the nails, the makeup, the fact remains she was passed caring. And I had to accept this. Now, I feel guilty over not mourning her as much as I think I should. But i also realize that when she was sick two years ago, I truly mourned her and have been for close to two years. I mourn the closeness we once shared that just disintegrated. I mourn the fact that she didn’t like it that I grew up. I mourn that she never got to see Vivienne in person, never made it to my brother’s wedding. I mourn that she never really appreciated all that my mom did for her. I mourn that I can no longer call her just to chat.

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Grandma on her 75th Birthday wearing the earrings I got her. This was the outfit she wanted to be buried in.

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