Sunday, December 19th, 2010

radiumgirl: (exploding dog)
I called Owen to tell him not to make any solid plans for the rest of the week because we're probably going to a funeral. My grandma, my dad's mom, had a stroke on Friday night. For awhile there, it looked like she might bounce back. She was awake. She wasn't particularly aware but she was awake and she was moving and breathing on her own.

My uncle called me last night. She had another stroke while she was in the hospital. She's probably not going to get better from this one.

My brother came down from school and we headed over. I was expecting chaos and family drama, but it was actually a very quiet scene. She's in the ICU. She's paralyzed on her right side. She's on a ventilator and she hasn't triggered it on her own since Friday night, before her second stroke. When we got there, the only other people with her were my uncle and his wife. We hung around and made small talk for a little while. I kept catching myself staring at Grandma on the bed because I'd never seen anyone on a ventilator outside of TV and movies, and it's alot more brutal and uncomfortable looking in real life. Her mouth was open and her tongue was hanging out and there was a pad under her cheek to catch drool. It was not "In My Time of Dying."

My aunt wanted to know if I called my mom. I did not, because my mother lives for "Death Watches" and she always starts drama with people. That's why we haven't talked to her side of the family since I was nine. My uncle shrugged and said, "I don't care if she's here. She has a right to be here. She was in this family for thirty-some years. And she's your mother."

My uncle believes that Melinda's status as the-woman-who-pushed-me-out-of-her-vagina makes her impervious my judgement. He always says that he's worried that one day I'm going to regret not speaking to her unless I'm forced to. I'm worried about that too, honestly, but I'm not about to argue about it while his mother is in a coma.

I said, "If she comes here now, she's going to turn it into 'The Melinda Show.'"

My aunt nodded up at her husband, "She's right, you know."

"So." I took a deep breath, "If Grandma dies, I'll call my mom and let her know because at that point, she'll see the obituary in the paper and show up anyway. I just don't think it's right for her to sit here now and cry her big crocodile tears and pretend that she actually cares because, believe me Uncle Dale, she doesn't."

He nodded and sat down and looked out the window at the snowy parking lot for awhile.

I was actually pretty good about keeping my shit together at the hospital and even for the rest of the night after visiting hours ended. I came home and watched the Penguins/Capitals documentary that HBO is making (which is awesome) and did the dishes. My brother, Xander, and I, sat down at watched "A Very Supernatural Christmas" because, well. Christmas.

It slammed into me when I got in bed. Grandma is 87 years old. She has Alzheimer Disease, so there hasn't been a whole lot of coherent moments in the past few years. She once insisted that my brother and I weren't her grandkids because "My Chuckie and my Mary are just little babies. I don't know who the fuck you are." And then she demanded that Charlie come sort things out. Charlie's my dad. He's been dead for nine years.

But I remember her before she got really sick. She was this tiny little mountain woman who lived in a big white house with a red porch on the side of a mountain. She swore like a sailor and mowed her own grass even though she was a million years old because no one else did it right. She had seven kids, six boys and one girl, who are all, according to her, "various degrees of moron." She refused to get central air, even when my dad offered to pay for it once, because she liked to open her windows and smell the mountains. She loved The X Files and Xena: Warrior Princess and I loved visiting her when I was a kid because we would watch them together.

She's buried her husband and three of those seven kids. She seemed to get a little sadder, sicker, and less "there" with each passing. At the last funeral, two years ago, for my uncle Dave, who was her first-born, she didn't get out of the car because it was snowing and she had just gotten over the flu. I went over to the car to say goodbye after the casket was lowered and she wasn't crying, but she looked pretty close to it. She blinked at me, "Mary?"

"Yeah, grandma."

"Charlie's Mary?"


She nodded and looked out at the thinning crowd near my uncle's plot, "They all keep dyin' before me."

I just nodded because the lump in my throat wouldn't let me do much else.

"I'm not buryin' another one of my kids, MaryAnn. I'm not."

If she dies this week, she'll have gotten her way. I think that's softening the blow for alot of the family. It helps me to think of it that way too, but at the same time, I just feel like another part of my dad is going away, my family is getting smaller and smaller. I remember when I was a kid, I looked at my six aunts and uncles and I thought my family was huuuuuuge.

It hasn't felt huge since I was twelve.

Owen pointed out, "Your family is always growing. Your cousins are always having babies and let's be real here, you and I are probably going to have babies one day; chubby, nerdy babies with serious authority problems. And my family loves you. My grammy thinks of you like one of the grandkids."

I giggled in spite of myself and pointed out that my cousins are always having babies because they don't know what condoms are, not because they planned it that way. "It's not the same though." I said.

And Owen was silent for a moment on the other end of the phone before conceding, "No, I guess it's not."

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