I drove down to see my grandmother a moment ago at the assisted living home. Old people were jockeying for positions at the dinner table when I arrived. "Eight minutes till dinner," the nice lady told me in the reception area. I had eight minutes to visit and sadly, I was relieved. I normally stay thirty minutes and have been going twice a week. I have been torturing myself and am a glutton for punishment.
I found my grandmother lying in the bed looking listless. "Suppertime?" she asked me as I stepped in the room. "Oh, it's you." Don't be so happy to see me, I thought.
"The food here is terrible," my grandmother complained. It smelled delicious though and made my stomach grumble. I wanted to stay for dinner, but wasn't sure of the protocol involved. My grandmother then hobbled on into her den to have a seat. "You ought to be ashamed," she told me. "You ought to be ashamed for having your father buy you a house. A grown man should see about those things."
"I would have been homeless Memaw," I said. "I lost everything in the divorce."
"You are a lucky man," she said shaking and waving her index finger at me scornfully.
"You hungry?" I asked, trying to change the subject to more kinder small talk.
"Oh, I can't eat these days," she protested. "I am just wasting away. I think I will die soon."
That was enough to cheer me up (sarcasm.) My grandmother is a stern, ostentatious, surly old woman.
"Do you really enjoy me coming twice a week?" I asked her with a rare candidness.
"You and your mother are the only ones that come to see me," she replied, not answering my question.
This woman has five children and fourteen grandchildren. They all shy away from her. I have been trying to be "of service" to others by going twice a week. I have only recently started. I can see why, now, that no one comes. It is the most unpleasant experience. Getting a tooth pulled would be a far kinder happening.
Later this afternoon, I was talking to my mother. She had brought Maggie a bag of various and assorted dog treats.
"Mom, was Memaw ever nice? Was she ever kind?" I asked my mother after telling her of my visit.
"Your grandmother used to laugh and sit up with us kids at night reading stories," mom said. "She was a wonderful cook and would cook the most delicious and nutritious meals in a loving way. She got pregnant with your uncle in her forties and then your grandfather had his heart attack and she was never the same."
"I love her, but she makes me feel terrible," I told my mother.
"She makes me feel small as well," my mother replied. "So I understand. But it helps me by you going. I have noticed her being more nice lately since you started to go. She actually paid me a compliment the other day about my hair."
I gasped. Memaw? A compliment? The very foundation of this good earth must have shook and floundered. I felt better at my mother's words that some good was coming about by my seeing my grandmother. I wish she was like my father's mother who could do no harm in my eye. I would be down to visit Sally Lou almost every night. She was such a kind soul.
"You are still going to go, aren't you?" My mother asked as she stepped out towards her car to go to Weight Watchers.
"Yeah," I replied. "But I am going to need some tranquilizers afterwards."
Mom laughed and gave me a hug. There is always one "Memaw" in everyone's family, isn't there? I will continue to be of service to my grandmother and love her despite all her foibles and misgivings. Love will make you turn a blind eye as they say. I hope you all have a great night. I am off to AA.