In the time surrounding this year many events and changes were happening in my life. I began junior high. I fell in love for the first time. My father, and shortly after one of my brothers, came to live nearby. My brother then left again, though my other brother joined my dad eventually. Someone I considered a father figure betrayed my trust in the deepest way possible. My grandmother began to have series of strokes that would eventually lead to serious memory loss and physical disability. And we began going to church where I found my salvation. But I will only share about some of those this week while others you can check back at my previous posts for as they are linked.
(My grandma and grandpa on a trip to Hawaii when I was only 4- I didn't get to go but I always remember hearing about it! They loved it!)
While each of those events had huge impacts on my life, one that actually broke my heart the most was watching my grandmother deteriorate. In my mind it all started during one of those historical moments that everyone knows exactly where they were when they heard the news, and mine I can connect with 2 other huge changes for me. It was when I heard Princess Di had died in a tragic car accident.
Around this time, my father had also shown up at our house. I had been at a friend's for the weekend, it was dark when I got home. My mom, as if walking on egg shells, told me as I came in through the front door that someone was here to see me. Over the years I had occasionally heard from my dad who was a few states away, but it had been years since I had seen him. And with no warning that I can remember, poof, he was back. I don't even think I said one word to him that night. I saw him and while my younger sister, Carolyn, was eagerly ready to welcome him back with open arms, I wanted nothing to do with him! I went down to my room and wouldn't come out.
Eventually I was willing to talk to him again, though I don't remember how long exactly it took me (not too long). I remember sitting in our family room with Carolyn on one side of him and me on the other. I was still not feeling very forgiving toward him, but I was at least talking to him, however resentfully. This was where I was when my Grandma came to tell us that Princess Di had passed away. I don't think I was particularly aware of who that really was or how it effected my world, but I was sad. I was an emotional girl, so it didn't take very much to set me off. As my grandma gave us the news, I remember her going to lean on her arm, with her hand against the entryway. But her hand missed and she fell, not hard, I don't even think she hit the floor before she caught herself. For some reason though, this is what I have in my head as one of the huge indicator that something was wrong with her.
(My grandma and me when I was very young.)
I was a grandma's girl growing up. I was actually the first grandchild and therefore very spoiled since we lived with her on and off all my life. At one point I believe around preschool or kindergarten, I even lived with her in an apartment, just the two of us, as my mom and step dad managed the complex from the manager's apartment. This was so I could have my own room, but I just loved being so special that I got to live with my grandma!
There were other signs that something was happening to her. She had a lot of doctor's appointments it seemed. And I remember being very fearful of her driving around by herself. I felt like if I were with her, I could help somehow if something happened. I often would go with her places, especially if she were crossing over a bridge, even when I had homework or just really didn't want to go. I felt I would then be responsible if something bad happened, and the butterflies would begin churning in my stomach until I gave in and forfeited whatever I had been doing to stay with her and keep her safe.
At some point she was officially found to have had a series of strokes, that eventually happened again and again, and later she was diagnosed with dementia as well. It was difficult for me to witness. With my mom working often, sometimes I would be left to help take care of her, by making her meals and helping her to the bathroom. This happened on and off, as my mom and aunt traded off with caring for her. My aunt lived in California though during the early years, so for months at a time I would have to help my mom while she was working. Not only was it physically difficult, I wanted to just be a kid and found taking my grandma to the bathroom gross, but emotionally it was heartbreaking. Her memory came and went, but most of the time she had no clue what my name was. Sometimes she would call me Sandy, who was one of her sisters. Even harder then that, was hearing her not knowing who my own mother was. Her first daughter, who loved her and cared for her all those years, and she couldn't even remember her name. I couldn't even wrap my mind around how much that must have broken my mom's heart, but I imagined how it would've made me feel.
My grandma died before Natalie's 1st birthday. She met Natalie once, though I doubt she realized who it was. I wasn't there when it happened but my mom says my grandma knew her at the end. I don't remember enough about her spiritual life to know whether I will see her in heaven, but as she had a childlike mind at the end of her life I hope maybe she is up there waiting for me, and one day I will get to introduce her to her great grandchildren.
And as for my relationship with my dad, it has grown over the years. Slowly at first, but I think that's the way it needed to happen for me. I now believe we have a good relationship though maybe not the traditional one. We email each other on and off, and now I am the one living more then a few states away!
This is the 9th post in a series of 15, I am doing to record my youth with other ladies at
. Another session will be starting in October and everyone is welcome to join in on the fun!
Click here to view the rest of my Mommy's Piggy Tales posts, from how I got my name through 7th grade.