let the circle be unbroken

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I was in my grandmothers bedroom two nights ago. I was sitting on her side of the bed - near where she kept her jewelry box and sewing machine and books she was tackling at that moment. It was her room as I recall it in 1975. I wasn't a child, I was the adult Dawn, but I felt at ease somehow.

When Terrance woke me up, I said, "I was with my Grandmother." He looked at me and said "I 'm sorry I disturbed you from that."

My grandmother died last February. If there was one person who could have gotten me to cross the fear of returning to the place of my birth, it was her. I did and saw her to her grave, not unlike she saw me from the cradle. I have always seen myself as an extension of dreams she couldn't attain as a woman in the 1940's. She was whip smart. She knew and remembered tons of information, most gained from her reading books, which were stacked in massive piles all through the house. My aunt and mother told me that shortly prior to her death, they were watching Jeopardy and my grandmother whispered out an answer to a plant name in Latin.

Such a Dawn Move, that. I am dying but here is one last piece of esoteric knowledge I can throw into the universe. The genetic line is displayed in shocking clarity through that moment.

Being in her house after the funeral was disconcerting. She hadn't lived there for easily six months, as she had been in the hospital and then my aunt's house. I had not been there for well over 27 years. Not only was I returning as a Giant in Lilliput, but her essence was distilled. There were some stacks of books, but it was not my grandmothers house.

I walked around the yard for awhile. Even though it was February, there were some peeks of green trying to push through. I took pictures of some of the irises that were making an early run for it.

The funeral had been hard. Not only for the obvious reasons, but because my family is such a rag-tag group. Believe me when I say I wouldn't want it any other way - it was from this crucible that I emerged.

My uncle with schizophrenia looked awful. He has been on medication for a decade or so, and while it helps control some of the mental health issues, it takes a terrible toll on his physical body. I can still see him in there, and his voice sounds very similar. But he is slipping away. He recognized me before my mother did, looking up through red, tear swollen eyes to say "Hello Dawn Ann."

My other uncle, the youngest of the family, looked the best I can remember in ages. As a result of his last suicide attempt ( which I would be remiss in not mentioning that while it was indeed horrible, the attempt, I can not lie to say that I laughed my ass off through the whole terrible description of him trying to knock himself unconscious with a rock while he stood in a pond, hoping he would drown) he was finally on medications. At 49, the man was finally on medication. He is, of course, bi-polar.

There was another moment where he realized my grandfather had forgotten the final payment for the funeral and was very concerned that they weren't going to bury my grandmother.

In my own attempt to be both practical and funny, I made mention that I figured it happened a lot - I mean otherwise they would have dead people "stacked up like cordwood in the back." I am not sure if he found it as funny as I did.

Both of my uncles live at home with my grandparents, now simply with my grandfather. Looking at the lot of them after her funeral, I wondered how they were going to manage - Like tame ducks set free in the woods. Not helpless - but disoriented, vulnerable.

My grandfather died a year later. He had wavered in and out of knowing who I was during the funeral and afterward. At one point he looked at me and said "Were you the baby that lived here?"

Yes. Yes, I was that baby. From 40 years ago, I was that baby.

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