to grandmother's house.
grandma and grandpa.
some of my earliest memories are of my grandparents.
i differentiate between sets by calling them mean and nice.
my mom's parent are nice, my dad's parents are mean.
nice grandma used to babysit me when i was little, when my mom worked at the bank between having me and my brother.
i used to make mudpies in her backyard.
everyday, before mom came home, she'd hose me off and one of our 'things' was saying
'oh, no, mr bill'.
i don't know why. but to this day, she still says it, and makes me crinkle my nose at her, because it takes her back to when i was small.
i remember mean grandma having me over for the night around that same age when she still lived in florida. she'd have coffee on, all day and all night. and she'd let me have tiny cups of coffee with lots of milk and sugar. i drank it lukewarm. the only time in my life i ever drank coffee that wasn't on ice.
and i'd watch he man, and later at night, we'd watch hee haw, and dallas.
mean grandpa was always nice to me. i guess i was his favorite. i don't remember them fighting back then, though i'm sure they did. getting older, i found out he was an alcoholic in those days, and would take trips to the trunk of his car to drink whiskey out of the bottle.
i also remember him, years later, in virginia where they lived for almost 30 years, making popcorn on the stove. huge batches dumped into paper bags, with real butter and lots of salt. i think this is where i developed my addiction.
it's sad that i spent part of my trip home this summer visiting him in a hospital, and then the nursing home. he's in the last ugly stages of alzheimers now. it sucks. he doesn't even know who i am anymore.
mean grandma was the one who would rat us out to mom when she picked us up.
and who committed the unforgivable sin of taking my paper journal, when i was in college, and on vacation with the family. she read it, and scratched out things i'd written about her that were less than complimentary, and told my mom that she should read what i wrote about her (which i hadn't done).
nice grandma and grandpa were the ones who would sneak us treats, and tell us not to tell our mother.
they also let us live in their house when my brother died, while we were waiting for our new house to be built.
now, they all live in florida again. nice grandparents for most of the year, and mean grandparents full time, since they came for a visit and my parents and aunt realized that he was too far gone for them to live so far away and alone in virginia backwoods.
mean grandpa was also, most likely, in the kkk. which really sucks, and explains a lot about the racist household i grew up in. a hunter, a woodsman who lives in camo.
now, he can't figure out how to work the remote on his adjustable chair, and lives in pajamas day in and day out.
i remember nice grandpa helping me with my algebra homework in high school, because he was always sharp as a tack. now he is starting to slip, and forget.
and he is convinced that he can heal himself, and loves to tell stories about his days in the air force.
grandma had surgery on her spine a few years ago, it was one of my four trips home spent in hospitals.
she hasn't been the same since. before that, really, she was in a lot of pain. but now, she can barely get out to have a cigarette, and has all but lost her will to live.
i love my grandparents.
it's part of the reason i want to move home. their years are numbered, and few, and i want to spend as much time with them as i can, before they are gone.
for a long time, they were my motivation to have kids. i wanted my kids to know them.
but those days are over for me, and i know that now, by the time i have one, they will be gone.
there are times when i think about this and cry.
tonight is not one of those nights.
i have a lot of memories of all of them.
one of the most memorable trips was that journal trip to virginia with mean grandparents. the whole family was there. the whole 'famn damily'.
and it snowed that trip, which it never really did, and i wrote on the window of our minivan 'we <3 each other' because all we did was fight the whole time. and all they did was fight the whole time.
if i had a dollar for every time i have heard my grandmother yell, 'richard!' at my grandpa in her nasty voice, i'd be a millionaire.
she is the reason i left ever, really. i felt myself becoming her. and there was nothing i wanted more than to avoid the life she ended up living.
being stuck in an abusive marriage, miserable, wishing her life away. and thinking that when he's dead and gone, she'll finally be happy and able to do what she wants.
little does she know that when he's dead and gone, she'll be lost. and bitterly alone.
while i was married, we made a point to go to nice grandparents' house every summer. it was the one vacation we took a year, together. the puppy could run around their yard in the smokey mountains off her leash. and until they eventually got tachnology last summer, there were no cell phone signals and no internet, so we could really get away from it all.
and the trip there last summer was when my parents and grandparents fell out of love with ever. it was when they tarted to resent him for guilting me about wanting to go with my family out on the lake, because he didn't want to go. and ultimately, he refused to go, and i went because i wanted to. and they never got over it. because i couldn't really enjoy myself, worrying about him and what he was doing to keep himself occupied while we were living the good life.
and ultimately, when i took the trip home to tell mom and dad we were getting a divorce, my grandparents called him an anchor and said he wasn't a partner if he didn't contribute.
mean grandma didn't act surprised when i told her. she didn't really have anything to say about it.
when i go home, i see the nice set daily for lunch, and go once a week to see the mean set, because they're so miserable to be around.
that's the story of my grandparents.
i'll miss them when they're gone.