Posts Tagged ‘grandma’

Where I come from.

April 19, 2013

My heritage is in listening to medical stories over dinner. This heart attack, that injury. Words spinning and dancing in the air, describing microwaving blankets to heat the up for boring night shifts. How the full moon makes everyone crazy. What this doctor said to that nurse, and always, the quiet thread of lives she has saved.

My heritage is in music, his stunning ability to sing and play the saxophone and just about any instrument he tried. Long walks in the woods, no place to go, all the time in the world to waste. Board games and letting me put make up on his face.

My heritage is lying in a bed while her older hands lightly trip across my skin, scratching my back and weaving stories together, telling me my future, the future of my sister. Sitting by her kitchen table, eating long johns and cheap hamburgers. Sitting in the dust, feet over water, fishing and listening to the rhythm of the world.

My heritage is in his books, his silences. Reader’s Digest condensed novels handed to me like some people offer seven year olds candy. Big bowls of popcorn, almond praline ice cream. Hose nose shines from my mother’s face, my sister’s.

My heritage, too, lies within myself. Hours alone in the woods, in fantasy worlds, climbing over fences into areas that were off limit. Endless filled notepads, playing with little people on my bookshelf and creating worlds for them, composing music during other empty hours and being absorbed and whole.

Moving house….peeing….whatever.

January 27, 2012

So, we’re moving. And I’m totally not grown up enough to sell this flat.

It’s a fairly major move, to another part of the country. All of TMD’s parents live there – though FIL (my father in law) is basically giving us his house and he’ll be moving about an hour and a half away to live with his partner. He’ll come spend the night once a week or so. I’m not an ungrateful sow, but I do wish he’d sell his house, invest his money for his future, and give us a bit so we can buy a house we actually want. He is redoing his house – new carpet, windows, paint, bathrooms, etc – and it is a nice house. Four bedrooms, big garden! I am just so not a city/suburban woman.

We might live in a small two bedroom flat now, but our back garden is expansive, with a path leading down to a huge park, woods, and yet more countryside. I’m all about the trees, yo. All about the trees.

Still, the area we’re moving to is nice, and there is lots of green space nearby – just a bit bummed that we’ll have to drive to it rather than our back door opening to it.

We plan to move pretty fucking soon – end of March. We have a lot to do before then. Step one was getting our wobbly toilet fixed yesterday, which necessitated both adults in the house pooping in children’s potties today before dumping it in a big bucket which is currently covered with cling film and in the bathtub. It’s all glamourous here.

(Sidenote: for some reason, my grandmother essentially lived in her basement – as most of my extended family does. Not in a weird ‘put the lotion in the basket’ kind of way, but in a cozy, comfortable ‘this one giant room is all we need, sod the rest of the house’ sort of way. When we were little, she showed us how to pee in a special red pot (like the sort you boil water and cook things in!) rather than walking all the way upstairs to pee. She did it, so we did too. Might have had something to do with her arthritis, or maybe  my family are crazier than I think. So ANYWAY. The point of this sidenote was to say I felt perfectly happy peeing in a bucket last night and this morning.)

Our new house – I have to try to start thinking of it that way, rather than as FIL’s house – has a bathroom downstairs and upstairs. So we can all pee without climbing stairs or resorting to using kitchenware to help us void our bladders.

I have the feeling I got off topic somewhere…

What wonders August holds.

August 9, 2011

August is always the month of Big Happenings for us.

It features our anniversay, Coconut and Snort’s birthday, the anniversary of my grandmother’s death, etc. It is always a busy, full, kinetic month – I don’t know if this is something inherent about August, or just unique to our family.

I wrote last week about this being a scary week. Lots is going on, but I guess – for now – the only other thing I’ll mention is Thursday. That’s Snort and Coco’s birthday…..and also the day I have my first round of more invasive treatment for my SPD/PGP. I’m getting steroids injections as well as nerve blocks. The steroids, oh, the steroids. Multiple shots in my tummy, ass, lady bits. I have the second round in September; I’m not sure which shots are happening on Thursday, only that it’ll probably be my front or back. And I’ve been told they will be painful.

I tell you, I was actually more nervous about the driving test than these shots – on the test day, my hands were clammy, and my voice shook so hard at the beginning I almost thought I wouldn’t be able to talk. I should mention that this isn’t me. I know I come across in this blog as confident, outgoing, etc….and those things are true. The things that worry me about the shots are, really, the hospital they will be happening in. The place is a motherfucking rabbit warren. Lots of little buildings thrown onto a large piece of land in random order.

I’m having a sore week, and today is particularly painful. So I’m hoping we find the right place the first time round, as I can’t walk around searching for the operating theatre!

I’m hoping our pattern of changes in August holds true, and these shots make a big impact on my – and by extention, OUR – lives. Of course not all the changes in August have been good ones. Some have been soul destroying. But I figure the only way I can go from here in regards to the SPD is up. I needed a wheelchair on our recent trip to visit family on occasion, and I’m really ready to be able to plan a trip somewhere without wondering if we should hire a wheelchair for me. I’m ready for my life to expand again.

Within the little circle I live in – about a ten minute walk radius on good days – I have made friends and a life for myself and my children. But if that circle got bigger? Oh, it would be good. So good.

Anyway. On this particular August morning I am embracing the summer vacation ethos. Two little people are in nappies and are just doing whatever takes their fancy. For one bizarre moment they were just lying on the couch in a daze – picture to appear soon on facebook. They are in nappies, I’m dressed in all green like I’m in the fucking army or something, and no one has brushed their teeth yet. We are doing everything that little bit slower and it’s kind of nice.

She was here.

February 22, 2011

There’s a chair I think of, while I’ve got one hand on his back, while she curls in my lap. It’s white, squat, with funny brass studs along all the seams and back. It’s the chair I sat in while I waited for my grandmother to die.

I remember that chair today, I think about other furniture in her room, and I think, Oh, I wish I had that chair. And then I decide maybe I don’t want it after all. It’s hard, and I sat and sat and sat there, in my own silent waiting world, usually alone. Other people huddled together in the basement. They talked, they ate, they told stories.

Me, I sat in that chair. I ran my fingers over the brass studs, I rarely shifted position. It was my chair. My waiting chair.

Lately during naptime I find myself thinking of my grandmother. It first happened last week. I don’t remember what was happening, but I know I was angry and tired and frustrated. I wanted them to sleep, and sleep now.

And out of nowhere I had an instant and perfectly clear image – the little green candies my grandmother ate. Shaped like a half circle, thick jelly, with a bit of sugar on the outside. I thought about how a plastic bag of these were put in her grave, and how they had to come back out when a graveyard guy ran up and said he forgot to put the right sticker on her urn.

And while I was thinking about these candies, I suddenly felt surrounded by my grandmother. Not sad, not hoping, not anything. Just a mother sitting on the floor, trying to get her kids to sleep, while her grandmother looked on. All the anger and frustration was washed away. I felt like grandma was there to offer me support on that bad day. I calmed. I felt her. The babies went straight to sleep the second I felt her, and it was like a huge gift.

It’s good they went straight to sleep, because as I sat there, singing, tears filled my eyes and my voice cracked. I couldn’t sing anymore. Tears rolled down my face, I missed her so much, but somehow she was right there and comforting me.

And so now she seems to be there, not as strong as that day last week. Now she’s there in memory. I think about how hot and stuffy her playhouse at the lake was. I think of how she let me run wild, take a canoe and escape, learn all the back watery ways and never wonder about if I was safe. She trusted me. She thought I was capable.

I don’t know. Maybe that’s what she came by to let me know. Or maybe she came by to put my kids to sleep so I could crawl into bed and rest, even though I sat there crying in her presence, not wanting to leave my children’s room in case I left her and never had another moment like this.

Maybe she wasn’t there at all, but I think she was, and it goes against my skeptical, atheist leanings for sure, but it feels right. Today I’m so far from my family, my mother is over 3,000 miles and an ocean (and expensive plane tickets!) away, but my grandmother? She came to visit last week.

I don’t need that chair. I don’t need that heavy piece of furniture, that weirdly white leather chair. I just need to keep remembering the green gum drops, the front closet full of silky scarves, the secret passageways in her attic, the ticking of the clock in her front room.

Things you should know.

November 12, 2010

One, I’m psychic. Last night/this morning I had a dream that we found the square piece that fits in the shape sorter. That happy bastard has been missing for so long I was starting to wonder if we’d ever owned it. This morning TMD said, ‘Hey, guess what. I found the square.’

One and a half, last year she was telling me all about some work conference she’d been on. I stopped her and said, ‘I am trying to listen to you, but I keep seeing the colour turquoise in my mind.’ She freaked out. Turns out she’d found a turquoise heart in her coat pocket that day, and had been holding it most of the afternoon.

Two, I’m not a nutjob. I swear.

Three, when I was little – and still today – I was utterly and completely freaked out by worms. On a huge level. I knew that when we fished, we used worms as bait (though my grandmother took pity on me and let me use pieces of bologna or corn). I refused to eat fish because I knew the awful truth: fish ate worms.

Three and a half, I also believed that squirrels lived inside green beans. Like, multiple squirrels per bean.

Four, I unfriended my father’s girlfriend on facebook. Her account was the way he accessed my profile – and pictures of the babies, etc. THIS IS HUGE. Clicking that unfriend button was HUGE. Admittedly there had been no ‘action’ from her/his profile in awhile, but I have been so freaking scared to finally cut off this ‘tie.’ It feels good. I feel brave.

Five, I’ve had a bad SPD relapse. This is due to a lot of things I won’t bore you with. But it’s been one week and one day of something quite hellish. I cannot wait for the blood to flow.

Six, tomorrow is Aussie’s son’s first birthday party. When were we grown up enough to have kids this old? Mine turned FIFTEEN MONTHS yesterday. I remember sitting in the pub with her, making comments about wanting to steal the bellies/babies of pregnant women.

Seven, I really need to get back on the enthusiasm and motivation train. The level of pain I’ve been in – coupled with my lovely pre-period self (argh, I’m a mean, tired bitch!) – leaves me utterly exhausted and down. I need to lose this weight. I need to write about when I gain weight rather than lose it. I need to be accountable.

Seven and a half, not to place blame, but things went down the shitter when ya’ll stopped wooing and hooing for my weight loss journey. You need to be held accountable. *wink* <— that was a fake wink to make you think I was being breezy about this.

Eight, I had to skip NaNoWriMo writing a few nights ago. I wanted to skip yesterday, too, but managed to do a day's writing. So as of last night, I was only a day behind. As of tonight, I am two days behind. I need to stop blogging and start romancing.

Nine, The Romancer is picking up speed and is more enjoyable to write.

Nine and a half, I still would prefer to watch Friends. Except every night when I finish writing, I am all YEEHAW and KABLOOEY and wetting myself with excitement. I put in the DVD, and fall asleep within five minutes of the show starting. I slept all last night in my glasses.

Ten, I am going to go all crazy cool and start using a Reusable Menstrual Cup, this cycle if all goes well. Prepare for posts full of too much information now. I foresee panic posts about silicone things stuck in my vajayjay, stories of how good I am at bearing down to get it out due to lesbian sexual activities, and blood spilling all over the floor.

Ten and half, night night. Sweet dreams to you, speedy writing to me.

Life & death are more than just bookends.

April 14, 2010

I can’t live my life as a servant to death.

My mother just called to say that Blondie (my sister) had phoned her in the middle of the night. Something has happened to my father and he is in hospital. My mom thinks it may be another heart attack, and it certainly involved a new stent.  She said he is in a stable condition. Blondie tried to text me, but for whatever reason I never receive her plain old text messages.

My mom said that Blondie said, ‘Did Existere call him on his birthday? Did she do something for his birthday? Won’t she feel terrible if he dies and she didn’t do anything?’


If he dies, when he dies, there is no doubt I will be supremely fucked up – for a lot of reasons. That being said, I don’t want to live my life pandering to someone who hurts me again and again, intentionally or not, just to lessen my own suffering when he dies. Life is too short, death will happen anyway.

Do I sound callous? I don’t mean to be.

But my life has always been about death. One of my first memories is my grandmother telling me that if I cried at her funeral, she would sit up in her coffin and punch me. She said this in a kind way, a loving way – trying to say that once someone is dead, that’s it. They are dead. She spent my whole childhood preparing me for her death. Sorting her jewelry,  telling me which pieces of furniture were destined to come my way.

I lived in terror of her dying. I spent my whole childhood with a constant prayer in my mind. ‘Please, God, let grandma and grandma and mom and dad and me and Blondie live to be well over 100.’ I would have this playing in my mind over and over and over. Every time I saw my grandmother I tried to get her signature. I would take along my journal everywhere I went, and was constantly tracing around everyone’s hands because it might be the last time.

Even now I am plagued by death worries. What if TMD dies? What would life be like? How could I ever survive if something happened to Snort and Coconut? Am I really going to die – but I haven’t chucked it all away and gone to live on a tropical island with my family yet!

My mother didn’t come to visit me when I moved to this country for years because my grandfather was very sick. She was afraid he would die when she was here. As it was, he did get even sicker just after she booked a ticket. But she came anyway, crying and upset most of the trip, and my grandfather lived for years after that trip.

I live in fear of death, and I am consciously trying to stop that. Despite my grandmother’s constant litanies of death and preparing me for it, when she died my world collapsed. I sank into a depression and just stopped going into work. I didn’t move off the couch once in about six weeks.

And here it is, 4.5 years later. My heart is still beating, I still miss my grandmother, I do not regret my life or hers.

But my father? This sounds cold, hateful even, but I am not willing to take the risk he may live years and years and years, and I will have to play nice and pretend my own feelings do not matter, just ‘in case.’

I wish him health, I wish him happiness. I just don’t want to be there at the moment.

That’s all.

I’m growing up.

November 18, 2009

Allow me my tiny moments, my tear filled eyes, my swollen heart. As I hold one, look into eyes, giggle at a goofy smile – and the other at my feet, full of sounds and kicks and laughter. I bitched throughout pregnancy. People came here to leave me comments, and more than one person emailed to thank me for not looking at things through rose-coloured glasses.

I, too, rolled my eyes at all the women who were trying to get pregnant – as we cheered each other on, they did it with blinkie signature files and I did it with telling people how my wife stuck pessaries up my vadge. As I tumbled through pregnancy, I wrote about not being able to walk, about throwing up in the bathtub, and, yes, about the tiny sweet kicks that rapidly turned into thunderous wrestling matches in my stomach.

I told the truth then, unvarnished, so you can trust that I tell it now.

Motherhood is so sweet that sometimes I am filled up, up, up with adoration for my children, for myself, for my wife. I sing to them and am amazed to feel wetness trickling down my cheeks. We hold whispered conversations, we are a daytime team of three, we can conquer the world.

Sometimes I am so tired I can barely pick my feet up. There have been two occasions when I have sobbed uncontrollably and felt like I couldn’t take it anymore. But the real seed of truth in the middle of it all? I often have an uneasy feeling, a wondering where all the terrible days are. As I read twin blog after twin blog, I read of women sobbing on the floor, sitting between their two babies, not sure who to help or how.

Me? I feel like the motherfucking baby CHAMPION, a woman so capable and strong in this new way, this fulfilling way, this way where I am talking back and forth to these two little people. She with her face that lights up, that tightens and tenses her whole body in a tall sort of happiness, her funny chewing face and sometimes solemn eyes. He with his conspiratorial glances at me, his wide mouthed and uneven smile, his laugh so powerful he surprises me every time.

We are getting the hang of it, and sometimes it’s lather-rinse-repeat of the same tasks over and over, but more and more it becomes a joy, a moment I want to live deeply in, a time I can already feel slipping away and so I concentrate on remembering every instant. Really paying attention to what it feels like to have her sleep with her right arm tucked around my back. Loving every time I change his diaper and he chats chats chats until we are both filled up with new thoughts and ways to be.

I cheer her on as she holds onto a toy and gnaws its face. I apologise to him for the ridiculous scratch mitts that are back in the game, as his poor face oozes and reddens. They reward me with their patience, their independence, their sweet baby snuggles and wide eyes as they watch the trees bend and sway in the wind.

For them, I walked this evening on my own to the doctor’s office, my legs still so weak and sore from months of being unable to walk. I almost gave up and came home, and then I kept going because I want to take them on long walks, I want to stomp in crispy leaves with them. I want to watch him feed the horses. I want to lift her up and point out the trains whizzing past.

I don’t need to look at my mornings through rose coloured glasses, because life is just rosy. I have a daughter who looks so happy and amazed just to be awake, just to be hanging out with me in our home. I have a son gulping his bottle, sitting on my leg, so strong, busy looking at everything. I know their rhythms, their likes, what it means when they move their faces just so.

Motherhood makes me feel like I am the first woman to have done this, the only one to really understand what it means. Motherhood makes me deepen myself, makes me feel a fierce love and determination to create a life for these two little people to unfold in their own ways, at their own pace, in their own directions. I want to be there in the background, my arms and heart ready to catch them when they need it, but giving them the space and freedom to make mistakes and try new things and be their own selves.

I want nothing more than this cycle of life to carry on, to continue, to grow older as I watch them grow up.  I’ve been thinking of my grandma a lot lately. How she held my mother, how my mother held me. Here we are altogether, linked by this business of being alive, of doing things that are no different than what has happened for thousands of years for billions of women.

But in here, in my heart, in this house, it is our little team of three that laugh together, that experiment with what it means to have a brother, a sister, a mother, two children. We smile when TMD comes home, their eyes widen and bodies jerk when the post comes, the cat streaks to the door on both occasions. I sing them Christmas songs, we dance to rap music, I curl up with one or the other and we read. I take naps with little baby bodies held close, their heads turned in toward my heart. I touch her smooth, soft cheeks. I rub lotion again and again into his funny chapped skin, loving that he loves that so much. We live in a world of touch, of taste, of kisses and space.

Sometimes we all do our own thing, in our own ways. Other times the three of us look at each other, burble, talk, smile. They look at each other when the other one is not looking, and sometimes they get a little worried and look at me to make sure everything is okay.

And it is.

Better than okay.

Over and over and over again, we get repeats and do-overs and try agains. Through it all, I feel this time, this babyhood, as something so painfully sweet and slippery. Every day they grow up and into themselves more, and I find myself thinking of them as teenagers – and then I yank my attention back to right here, right now, because where else would I rather be?

In all the right places.

June 2, 2009

Something you don’t know about me:

When I was nine months old, I potty trained myself. Seriously.

My grandmother had a potty lying around – a neighbor had given it to her or something. She brought it over to our house, with the expectation that my mother would eventually need it for me. The potty was actually left out in the bathroom.

The first time I saw it, I pointed. No one thought much of this. And then I started refusing to pee unless I was held over the potty. My mom (probably rightfully so! *grin*) thought I was a fucking genius, but then someone pointed out that a nine month old baby probably doesn’t need any sort of pressure like that. So she put the potty away.

I’m not sure what the point of this little vignette is, but I do know I am 28 weeks pregnant today with two very wiggly babies. I have managed to find the giant brown skirt I wore in my fat days (saved because I wore it almost exclusively over the period when my grandmother was dying), and when worn below the bump it makes me feel more pretty and not as hot.

It is boiling here. It rivals temperatures I would have dreaded when we worked at a summer camp. I made TMD go out and buy a giant, giant, LOUD fan yesterday. I’m gonna aim it at my body and hold my skirt open so the kids can feel the breeze too.


…sun glinting off a river…leather couches.

March 25, 2009

In an altogether awkward, reflective mood today. Had a bad night last night, and a badish morning today. Every now and then these little bubbles of the unpleasant and unexpected pop up, and I wonder where they have come from and when they will go away again.

I also am thinking about my grandmother today. A few days ago my mother emailed me in response to my bump pictures and said, ‘I hope grandma can see you.’ I didn’t know what she was talking about – she was grandma, and hadn’t she just seen all the photos? TMD said, ‘She means YOUR grandma.’ A surge of something came over me – guilt for not remembering, loss for what I/she/TMD/the babies are missing, warmth at her memory.

This morning Chirp wrote to me about my grandmother, out of nowhere – with a quote of what she thinks my grandma would say about all these babies. It made me smile, and tear up a little.

The Polish Catholic part of me, the part of me who just started reading Eat, Pray, Love today (thank you, Tia!), thought for just a second – is this my grandmother trying to come through to me? Twice mentioned in one week after a too long absence? Then the pragmatic part of me briskly slapped me about the face and told me to gather myself in, to be real.

Today I am in the office for a little while in the morning, then lay down/eat lunch for an hour, then travel across the city to go to an afternoon training. It’s in a big, iconic building that every tourist will have seen – right along the river. I’m going to push myself out of the crowded public transport system and wind my way to the river, walking along the banks to go to the training. While it’s a slightly longer route and walking is not my friend these days, I long to see the sun bounce off the river, to see all the crowds, to walk along and marvel that I, plain old Existere from a countryish background in an ordinary backdrop, now live in this (mostly) extraordinary country.

Here’s hoping the sun cooperates.

After the training I’d like to find myself a little hole to curl up in with this book, sometimes reading and sometimes thinking about my very slipped Buddhist practice. My mother and I had a conversation last week where she told me to pray to God with  my worries, that everything was out of human control anyway. I said I thought most things were actually our choices, actions, etc.  We came to a somewhat happy compromise – an altogether interesting thing to happen when our spiritual views are (I think, anyway) far apart.

But whoever you pray to, whatever you believe or don’t believe, I suspect many things are actually one and the same. TMD’s strong atheism makes me nervous, people who are strongly religious make me nervous. I’m just here on my little island, wondering and curious and hopeful and pessimistic.

All things considered, though, I’m doing okay.

Cheerful, tangled memories.

October 22, 2008

Just realised that tomorrow was the anniversary I had with Jason (see x365 post a couple entries down). That explains why he popped into my mind.

I often find myself thinking of people and not knowing why; February is a month of my grandmother. This is when I flew out to be with her after the death of my grandfather. It’s also the last time I saw her healthy. I flew back six months later to sit beside her as she died.