This past Monday was the 4 year anniversary of my grandmother’s passing. A lot of people value their grandparents; I don’t know anyone that doesn’t love them with all their heart, but my grandmother was hands down the best.
And it was because she wasn’t just my grandmother. She filled a maternal void that as a child and well into my adulthood, I needed. In grade school, she made sure my uniform was clean and ironed. She made sure my hair was brushed and I got my vegetables. She welcomed me with open arms and without the slightest hesitation when the person that should have been nurturing me and making sure I got my homework done, decided to go out with friends instead. She never held things that were out of my control, like hospital or tuition bills, over my head. Sure, she was the master of guilt trips, but she could also be very comforting.
I look back on my teen years. I was awful in high school, angry at everyone and did my best to fight my own circumstances. With that said, it was years of life lessons and with the exception of the way I treated my grandmother, I don’t regret those times. I am ashamed of how cruel I was; the words I called her and the way we fought was beyond unacceptable. But she loved me anyway. I can still remember with acute clarity after each time I would refuse to give her a hug, she would respond with well I’m glad you let me give you so many hugs as a baby.
I regret not giving her a hug each time she asked for one. I regret yelling as much as I did, rebelling as I did. And yet, she still loved me with everything she had. She never left, she never pushed me back into an environment that she knew was worse. She worried when I slept in too late, and I caused her additional grief when I stayed out until 4, 5, 6 in the morning. Her letting me move into her flat when I was around 15-16 was probably the best thing that could have happened to me, but it couldn’t have been easy to raise a teenager as someone in their mid-late 60s.
But she tried, because she loved me enough to. She tried because she was selfless like that; she saw what was happening, unraveling, and feeling powerless to do what had to be done, she chose another route. She took me in. She told me constantly that she loved me and that I was her little treasure. When I transferred from college to a university, she helped me pay for my tuition and books without holding it against me.
She believed in my education so strongly, even if she was always asking me to write down my major because she could never remember. She always thought I would grow up to be a lawyer. She believed in me, when I had someone else in my ear repeating you never follow through on anything, you’re just like me, you’re going to wind up just like me.
Those words were echoed from that same person the day of my grandmother’s funeral. Only then, I didn’t have my grandmother to reassure me that I wasn’t.
My grandmother for her faults, was a strong woman in her own way. She was headstrong and had a very silent take-charge business attitude. But mostly, she was home.
And while the person’s hurtful words of you’re just like me still sting to this day like nothing else, and leave me obsessing over the idea until I have nitpicked each of my traits and convinced myself she has been right all along… while all of that occurs what hurts even more than those words is that she hurt my grandmother more than anyone else.
And felt no remorse for decades upon decades, only to lie at the funeral about how they had a great relationship. This, coming from the woman who fostered an environment where it was okay to treat my grandmother so poorly. And aside from aloof apologies about all those years that sound more like scoffs than anything, she maintains her semi-innocence.
And yet, four years later I have nothing but sadness and regret for many of my actions towards my grandmother. The grandmother that willingly took on the role of parent without blinking an eye because she was that type of person. She wasn’t resentful and never said things to my face like her daughter had. Things like at least I’m the one that stayed.
My grandmother wasn’t that type of person. And that is why when I allow myself moments to mourn the loss of her, I truly feel like I am grieving over the loss of a parent. The abysmal sadness and bartering I do knowing neither serves any real purpose. Please, just let her know I’m sorry and I regret every fight, every insult, every time I refused to help her spell out words in English. I say this requiem in different ways, apologizing for various things each time because I feel like I have so much to apologize for.
She was my parent in the years where neither one of mine seemed to want me. And I have never felt so unconditionally loved in my entire life.
So while I am living my life for myself, for my dreams and goals; I always have her in the back of my mind, hoping she thinks I’m making the right choice and praying that she’s still just as proud.