At 11:25pm, twenty years ago, today, my grandmother died. She and my grandfather raised me because my mother and father divorced and then my mother abandoned me to run off with a man. She was young and, let’s face it…shit happens.
In any case, my grandmother made sure to beat my ass every single day. As soon as Dad left for work, it was on. I wasn’t afraid of her, though. No matter how much she hurt me, I rarely let her see me cry. Even as a very young child, I knew her weakness. I could smell it on her. Sometimes, I’d laugh at her when she beat on me. She’d slap me till my cheeks were crimson, but I’d keep laughing. But sometimes, she’d hold me from behind, as tight as she could, one arm around my body, her other hand over my nose and mouth. She’d hold me like that till I nearly passed out, then let me catch my breath before she did it again. I didn’t laugh then…bet on that.
My grandfather was/is a WW2 Marine vet. My hero. Every night, while other little girls were being told fairy tales as they drifted off to sleep, I was being told stories of Guadalcanal and the battle of Fonte Ridge. I heard stories of pygmies and other strange sorts they’d encounter on the Pacific front. Whenever he had time, my grandfather would teach me to fight like a Marine. Well…not really, but I was only four or five. However, I was the only little kid on the block who knew how to properly use a bayonet. (Years later, in high school, this girl wanted to fight me, so my grandfather drilled me on how to kill someone in three easy steps by breaking their nose and shoving their bone into their brain. Lol!) I was also the only kid who could shoot and properly maintain a .22 rifle and pistol. I had my own pellet gun, bb gun and bow. Grandad hooked me up!
Now and then, my grandfather would ask about my various bumps and bruises. They were always easy for my grandmother to explain away, as I filled almost every waking moment playing Marine with the boys on the block. Even when he’d ask me, I’d make up a story. Those were the only times I ever lied to him. But I knew what was coming once she saw his truck turn the corner on the way to the refinery he worked at. Although I wasn’t afraid of her, I did sometimes wonder how far she’d go. But I took a lot of strength from the things my grandfather told me. Especially when he spoke of what the Japanese would do to the men they caught. I figured that if they could handle that, nothing my grandmother could do could hurt me. I learned to get through it, I guess. That’s all. Besides, when your parents abandon you, something breaks and, even though you don’t understand it, you will never feel a greater pain. But, I digress.
The point of this ramble is that, every year, I try to remember something good about my grandmother. One memory that makes me feel sorry she’s gone. But the truth is that dying was the best thing she ever did for me. And that’s the truth. So, I think I’m going to blog this and let it be the last I think of her today. You can’t always find the beauty in pain…or the reasons that would help you understand some things in this life. Eventually, you can learn to remember certain things without searching for the reasons why.