Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Blood Gets Thicker

For background information about my grandmother, go here, here, and/or here.

Back in February, on the ride home from the rosary at Brooke’s grandpa’s funeral viewing, my father said, “I had occasion to lie to your grandmother recently.”

He has a tendency to start conversations in amusing and intriguing ways.

He told me that she had asked if I wanted anything of hers, and my father, ever the diplomat, said that I did. She handed him a small box with a large ring: platinum or white gold, covered in diamonds and Burmese rubies. It was a gift from my grandfather on their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, one they spent in Hawai’i. She wrote a short note describing the circumstances around it gifting, and Dad packed it away to bring to me. He had, of course, planned to do it under better circumstances.

The ring is one of those items which is either gorgeous or gaudy, depending on the wearer, the context, and one’s personal opinion. For my birthday, I wore a black silk dress with red flowers on it, and this ring matched perfectly. It worked. When I thanked my grandmother for the $50 check she sent for my birthday, the one with a note instructing me to take Brooke somewhere nice for dinner, I mentioned to her that I had worn the ring. I didn’t hear back. I was pregnant one week later.

Since I got pregnant, I had been concerned about how my father and I would deal with telling my grandmother about my delicate condition, as my father likes to say. I was ready to write a letter to my mother’s dear Aunt K, and it was time to tell her, so I wrote one to my grandmother as well. I was pleasant and granddaughterly, but I was also very clear that this pregnancy is a blessing to me and to Brooke and to the rest of my family, and if she wasn’t going to treat it as such, she could take a hike.

A week later, she called and left a message on our answering machine. “Hi! It’s Grandma! Congratulations! I’ve been busy getting my teeth fixed, so I haven’t had time to get a note in the mail to you. I’m gonna try your dad later this week. Bye!” There was feedback as she hung up the phone. A day later, a note arrived in the mail. She wrote about her new dogs, her zucchini bread baking marathon (32 loaves), and about news around town. She wrote how pleased she thought my mother would be and how excited she was. She addressed the note to Brooke and to me. She also wrote that my aunt had had a cyst removed from her rectum, but that “she is doing fine.”

On the phone with my brother the other night, I reported this bit of news about our aunt. He laughed and told Hope. “Poor Aunt O’Mascara,” I told him, “Having her news about her rectum broadcast everywhere.” Paul then told me how he had been on email with Aunt O’Mascara’s daughter, our cousin Big Hair. Big Hair told him that she had heard of our news through our grandmother and had been confused about how it was possible that Brooke and I were going to be having a baby in February.

“Things are different now,” my grandmother told her, with no commentary about the differences being good or bad. Maybe she is learning. Maybe she really wants to be a part of my life. Maybe it’s not too late.


At 4:20 PM, Blogger flyoverguy said...

Looks like a door may be opening for you!! Sometimes grandmas can be suprising.

At 4:58 PM, Blogger Jen said...

Wah! I'm crying of course. Anyway, here's hoping for the reformation of grandma....


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