Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Veronica: Aging Grandmothers

Veronica sits in her favorite chair and sits very quiet and still. And if they call her name that they never get right and they don’t then nobody else will. But she used to have a carefree mind of her  own, with a devilish look in her eye, saying You can call me anything you like, but my name is Veronica sits in her favorite chair and sits very quiet and still. And if they call her name that they never get right and they don’t then nobody else will. But she used to have a carefree mind of her  own, with a devilish look in her eye, saying You can call me anything you like, but my name is Veronica. -Veronica, Elvis Costello 

Aging Grandmothers: 

One of my main reasons for coming to Haiti, was to see my grandmother, who I adore completely.  While I love her, I should be clear and tell you that she was never the warm and fuzzy type. She was always opinionated, cantankerous and if I am to be honest, sort of strange. Unlike my grandfather, she was down right anti-social. She never had any friends and rarely left her home. I’ll bet today, she’d be diagnosed with some kind of phobia.  Her entire reason for being was my grandfather, their children and grand children.

I last saw her 2 years ago for her 90th birthday. Yes, I noticed that she had slowed down. However, she was still herself and in top form.  Two years later, my grandmother is no longer in top form.  She can’t quite put her finger on who I am.  She knows that I’m the person in the photo that hangs on the wall. She’s knows that I used to be fat, but she can’t seem to fix it in her mind that I’m April. It is a dagger in my heart. Last year one of my cousins told me that she had to remind our grandmother who she was. I remember thinking two things: A. That can’t happen to me. (I don’t know why I thought that—I just did) B. If that does happen to me I’ll be beside myself.  Well, it DID happened and I am beside myself. I’m the 3rd grandchild of 20 total. Since I grew up in the United States, she didn’t see me as often as the rest of the kids. I spent every summer the occasional Christmas with them.  Although the love was not demonstrative, I knew that I was loved.  She knew my favorite foods and often had them on hand. When I was a little girl she knew the way I liked my hair best.  She knew when my birthday was.  Now can’t put her finger on who I am and it breaks my heart.  I am salty that she knows my other cousins and brother, but is foggy about who I am. Please, spare me your logical thinking. “You don’t live in Haiti”. (My brother did for a while and most of my other cousins do as well) I know all that. But this this bothers me quite a bit.  My brother has said that he thinks that not only is she 92, but I’ve changed quite a bit. I’ve lost weight and changed my hair. While I know all that, I do not think that I am unrecognizable. (More on that another time)  


I know it’s not her fault. She doesn't want to forget. But her mind, her strength and faculties are leaving her. There is nothing that she or anyone of us who love her can do about it.  She has lived a long life and seen some things.  Maybe I’m just sad that her time is limited. She’s tired and misses her husband. In the 10 or so years since my grandfather’s death she goes the the cemetery every 8th of the month. She talks to him and keeps him up to date with what’s happening with us. Lately, she has taken to asking him when he’s coming to get her.  I realize that this normal progression. I just wanted her to be of sound mind and body until she just peacefully went to sleep one day.  I HATE what is happening to her. Not just because I’m sure she’s frustrated, but because it hurts me so badly to see her deteriorate so. 

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