Friday, April 1, 2011

dealing with death

This past year has been full of so many challenges for me. I feel that I have had the most emotional year of my life. I have never had a close family member die. This year I lost two. I lost my Grandmother in September to lung cancer.

Growing up I felt like my Grandma was a good Grandmother to me. I remember spending the weekends at her house and walking to the grocery store to buy vegetable soup aka my favorite. She was the one who taught me to put Cheetos in my vegetable soup and it was a chubby girls dream come true. (I can blame some of my adult weight on the veggie soup and Cheetos combo). I remember her teaching me how to cook and playing bingo with her. We used to watch Star Search and she always loved clowns. At one point in my life she had a huge collection of clowns that is until one of my junkie Uncles stole them all.

When I was a teenager our relationship became strained. I started to see her for who she really was. She was the type of person who always wanted to see what she could gain in life for free. She was always looking for a handout. She loved to gossip and was a busy body, always involved in other people business. She never had a job and lived off of the system for many years. Its funny but when she passed and my Mom and I were cleaning out her apartment all of her neighbors would come by and tell us how wonderful she was and it made me sick. She had such a good relationship with her so called "friends" and was estranged from all but 1 of her 7 children. When she died I was angry. I was angry because I didn't have the type of relationship with her that I wanted or needed. I still am angry. To this day I still try to accept the fact that she was who she was and even in her death I could not change her or have her be what I needed. I hate seeing cute little old ladies out shopping or doing what they do with their families. It makes me realize what I never had.

I know that you can't except someone to change in death. She died a painful death from lung cancer. Yet she continued to smoke cigarettes until the day she died. She spent all of her time in the casino chain smoking. I understand that it was her life and she has the right to choose to live it how she wanted but why would you choose to continue to do the thing that is killing you? Maybe she just didn't want to live any longer.

In all reality the analytical side of me can't blame her for who she was. My Grandma had a hard life. She was born to a very poor family who did what they had to do to survive. She used to tell stories about when she was little and my Great Grandma "Bubba" took off and moved to California. She left my Grandma, Aunt Ruth, and Aunt Betty home alone in Pennsylvania to take care of themselves. My Aunt Ruth was the oldest of the girls and not even a teenager at this point. My Grandma would tell how they would dig in dumpsters to try to find food and beg from strangers. They were finally taken in by an older brother and my Bubba sent for them one by one to make the move to California.

She also raised 7 children. My Mom is the oldest at 59 and my Uncle M turns 40 this year. All of her children have battled addiction of some sort weather it was drugs or alcohol abuse. I was very fortunate to have my Mom as my Mom. My Mom struggled with alcohol abuse and has been clean and sober for 12+ years! Go Mom :)I have 3 Uncles who are full blown drug addicts. They have stolen from my Grandma and used her to get what they needed. It sickens me to think how they took advantage of a little old lady on social security but they did and she let them. No matter how hard we tried she always let them come back and take more from her while in return she was taking from others. Can we say vicious cycle?

I think about all of the bad things that happened to her in her life and it makes me think that if all of this bad didn't happen to her would she be different? maybe nicer? maybe not as rough on her family? more loving? I just don't know. Right now at this moment all I know is I am still angry with her. One day I told my Mom that the one thing I know that I have learned from my Grandmother in life was how to play the victim. That's sad she showed me how to play victim but the good thing is that the role of victim is a role I refuse to play.

I am angry.

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