Monday, August 25, 2008

Sleeping in Granny's Coffin

After my last trip to Texas, I told my psychiatrist Dr. Nir that at my parents' I sleep in the bed Granny the Ho slept in up until a few days before she died. This bed has always been my bed and it's in the room that has always been my room when I visit my parents. The hospice workers moved a hospital bed into the room near Granny's end - so she didn't die in the bed where I'm sleeping.

She slept there for some months, though. Dr. Nir said I might as well have crawled into her coffin. I'm in Texas again, and I maintain that sleeping in Granny's coffin is comforting and peaceful.

Some people may know I've been particularly heart broken this summer over three issues:
  1. Granny died. I still love it that the icing from my birthday cake was on her lips the night she passed - but she's graveyard dead and that is hard. Fortunately, my sister saved a quarter cup of her ashes for each of us. Sooner or later, I'll have my quarter cup of Granny. At the moment, the ashes are with KPP in Florida. Equally as fortunate, KPP lives far enough inland so that they only get buckets of rain from storms like Fay, ergo, Granny's remains remain safe. KPP, her son and my uncle scattered the rest of Granny to the winds in the mountains outside Tahoe.
  2. The longest separation I've ever experienced from Velvet. When Velvet was with the wealthy, type A California in-laws and then hiking and fly fishing in the Rockies for college credit I found myself completely at loose ends. That he's leaving for college next year only made it worse at the time. The minute he got back, I was cured of that sadness and loss. The drunk girl in the bathroom helped, for sure. Annoying and heart warming, that's my baby.
  3. A relationship tanked. I've struggled to understand all my mistakes, especially why I stayed in a relationship where I couldn't be myself. I had my reasons - mostly based on fears that are part of my personal history.
When I sleep in this bed - or crawl into the coffin, as it were, I can feel my heart resting just where Granny's lay when she slept. She had five husbands, you know, and it wasn't all pretty. There was violence and abuse. Grown ups will beat up on and molest kids. Shit trickles down hill - just like Reaganomincs. The women on both sides of my family have had our share of trouble. If you heard what my Uncle Jenifer has to say about my grandfather, you'd know this phenomenon isn't restricted to females.

It's one big Southern Gothic jamboree. Dr. Nir says I don't have to read or watch Tennessee Williams because I lived Tennessee Williams. He's right of course. My family isn't so unusual, I'm sorry to say, which is why the book I'm supposed to be writing instead of fooling around on the blog has such a compelling story.

But back to the coffin.

It's like the sadness that has dominated this summer is pouring out of my heart straight into Granny's while I rest in that bed, and she understands. She strokes my hair and says it will be all right. There will be another man, even though he probably won't ever understand me either.

There was a book I used to love to read to my kids when I was working with two year olds called, How Are You Peeling: Foods with Moods

It ends with the line When how you feel is understood, you have a friend and that feels good.

My dear friends understand me - and I suspect more than a few people out there in blogland understand, too. There is one crucial individual, however, who has not indicated he understands and it's a struggle for me to accept and let go.

Granny understands that too. If she were here, I doubt we'd even talk about it since she was so dang deaf. Whether we talked about it or not, she'd tell me to quit crying because I shouldn't let that fool spoil my looks.

Once when she was mad as hell at one of her husbands, she waited until he was asleep and cut big old bald spots all over his head. She never told me what he'd done to piss her off. She fully believed that getting mad was a waste of time - getting even was worthwhile. Hence the bald spots.

My initial anger has faded. Neither one of us can help who we are, and I've been known to beat a square peg into a round hole before. For a couple of hours today, after sleeping heart to heart with Granny, I felt almost like my usual charming self. Then I got a headache from sulfites in the wine.

In the meantime, my mother has thrown herself into the project of finding me a home in Austin. She's digging the idea of me moving back to Texas for sure.

My New York friends can't imagine I'll ever leave, except for one who is moving home to the Bay Area in California as soon as her kids graduate from High School next year. Her life and mine have often paralleled. Our kids are the same age, we job shared for years teaching art to very young children, we got divorced at the same time. Our kids see the same therapist. And we're both moving back home as soon as we can because we never really liked New York or fit in even though we both made the best of it since we were stuck there.

Both she and I appreciate New York and are delighted our own children are New Yorkers; but being broke in the city is a drag when your heart and home is somewhere else. And besides, Tama Janowitz' New York is long gone. I think the only people who can live here anymore get paid in Euros. Maybe the trouble is that America itself has been so influenced by decades of Republican thinking that the human connection has been lost in the rat race for personal wealth and individual accomplishment. I'm not sure which came first: the rat race or the Republicans. I associate the phrase Rat Race with the Eisenhower Era, but that could be wrong. I'm not searching for its origins now, however. I'm going to float in the backyard pool then take Velvet down to look at Rice University.

I must digress a moment to be grateful for Farm & Wilderness, the Hippy Dippy Quaker Camp in Vermont Velvet spent the last five summers. Quakers are all about community. As a matter of fact, so is the preschool where I teach. Those of us who care about that stuff are sadly outnumbered. I suspect it's a generational thing more than demographics or geography. The Rats are everywhere - and they're happy to be rats.

Velvet and I go back to the city - his home if not mine - in a few days. I'm hoping that spending more time in the coffin with Granny will be restorative. Meanwhile, I've completely given up on eHarmony. Much better to spend these last few months in the city without the distraction of a man. I've never done it before, so I think it's about time. I registered for Perfect Match in case I decide I need a boy toy. I wonder if that was Granny's idea . . .


Gail said...

Hi Trish,
Wonderful writing. I can picture you in that coffin with your Granny. I like the look, the feel and the immense purpose. My Gram was immense in my life too. Only for a time. About 8 years.

Thank you for reminding me how important Granny's and Gram's are.

Good Memories

P. E. Nolan said...

I could use a little peace about now. It's been a hard day on the relationship front. The good news is that I can focus totally on getting my son established in a college that is good for him as opposed to simply a good school.

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