Sunday, February 19, 2006

Memories Of Time Long Past...

On another journal blog that I visited, someone mentioned something about elderly people and writing... It brought back memories, so I thought I'd share some of them with you.

(emeraldcite's blog - a link is in one of the last few posts, I'll place it on the right in a few days when I can figure out how to do so and have the inclination to actually click on the template for this blog and remember where and how to place it properly within the template.)

I remember my grandfather with amazing clarity. My grandparents raised me, so to speak, in more ways than one.

My grandfather was an amazing man and the older I get, the more amazing he actually was. I hope some day, to be remembered as an amazing person by my relatives, it is a way to be immortal for a few moments, in the future.

When I was little, younger than my daughter is now, he started calling me Josephine. I thought he was crazy, until I realized he called every female Josephine. I would hear Josephine and I would laugh and laugh, because I thought he had forgotten my name. Little did I know that it was probably his way of never mixing up a woman's name, to which, now, I know is probably an insult.

This knowledge, of looking back - and seeing it all through the much broader picture, made me realize, that my grandfather had probably been a bit unfaithful in his prime. But it doesn't truly matter, because that only adds to his laughter and his smiling ways.

He would tell the same joke over and over again, and he would laugh at himself - uproarishly so. We would all roll our eyes - and my grandmother would say "MO!" in that tone of voice that brooked no deals. He would then simmer down and open his newspaper, focusing on the cryptograms and the crossword puzzles being absolutely silent, until he started snoring.

When I was a child, living with them, I loved to listen to his snores rattle the windows and shake the house. It was comforting hearing that snore. It was like knowing that as long as he snored, I was safe and I slept soundly. When the house got quiet, I worried that he had quit breathing and I was terrified that he would be cold and dead if I dared peer into the bedroom. I would breathe a sigh of relief when the snores started again, and I would drift back to sleep.

I remember that he loved cribbage. He would play and play cribbage. He would boast and brag that he was the best player - and he would loudly exclaim each 15 for 2 points with a bravado and a "so there!" type of exclamation. Until one day, I beat him at his best loved game. He took his cribbage board downstairs to his favorite chair and I never saw it again. It wasn't that he was a poor sport, I realize now. It was that I had taken the one thing away from him that he was sure of - that he was good in cribbage. When a 13 year old beats you at a game that you thought you were a champion of, it must be hard to bear - because I think I hurt his pride... And even though I asked to play again - the board was banished and excuses were made.

I wish that I had let him win.

I think he had a collection of porn. I'm not entirely sure if the guys from work gave it to him, or not. But I think it was hilarious finding the titles on the VHS tapes when cleaning out everything. We never checked the tapes, but the names alone were enough to cause laughter, trying to imagine him watching them in front of my Victorian Iced Grandmother.

He loved her. My grandmother. She was his dream woman. He took care of her like a child and he never argued with her. She was a stringent woman who had high demands - and I loved her too. Very much so. I don't think people understood her. Now, when I look back at her ways, I have finally come to the determination that she probably suffered from severe bi-polar disorder and was addicted to pain medication.

My grandfather never uttered a bad word about her, no matter how many arguments she tried to stir up, he always carefully manuvered around them. Like a game they had been playing for so many years that it was natural for them.

They were comfortable with each other. I don't know if they were happy.

And I didn't know my grandmother loved my grandfather as much as he loved her until the day he died. A part of my grandmother died with him that day - and she died not more than a few months later.

I remember sitting there watching her, wondering how she could hold up under such pressure at his funeral. I thought she was being quite the uncaring woman, who laughed, did her makeup and made the funeral a social event. Until I watched her for a moment.

And even though she laughed in the hot Nevada sun, there was a fly crawling across her face. She didn't notice it. She didn't bat an eye, and as it crawled across her cheek, I realized that what we were seeing was a facade - that she had gone numb inside, realizing what she had lost.

I don't think for a moment that anyone else noticed. Everyone loved my grandfather. He was an icon, a hero and many more things than just a grandfather and husband. He'd lived through history - been written about in National Geographic and he had been a solid stone in our lives until the day he died.

My grandmother had always lain in bed, because she had been injured in an accident when she was a teenager, her back breaking, and it affected her as she got older. But truly - I don't think it was the injury that kept her in bed - like I said, I think she was Bi-polar and depressed, before anyone knew that such maladies existed. And no one cared, because her sharp tongue had already cut everyone enough - that it was safer to leave the tigress in her room.

But my grandfather had always been devoted to her.

I find that even more heroic than all of the other accomplishments of his lifetime.

And that fly... it made me realize that what I see in a person, their actions and everything they say or do ---- are not necessarily who they really are.

I'll never forget that.

And I think that maybe my grandmother died regretting many things - and for that, I love her even more.