My grandmother is sick.
Even after having almost two months to think about this, i still don’t know what i think. Ten years ago all four of my grandparents were alive and as animated as ever, and five years ago two of them were in managed care facilities because they were not well enough to live at home with family members. Now i have a paternal Grandfather whose eyesight and conversation skills are slowly failing, and who i’ve seen the least out of all of my grandparents over the course of my life. And my maternal grandmother, the one i visit in Florida in December so that she can fly up to Philadelphia for Christmas, the family member who i’ve spent the most time with over the course of my life other than my own mother.
My grandmother is sick, and she may be dying.
Almost a decade ago she had colon cancer, and i didn’t know what to think at the time and by the time i decided she was in remission. When she lived in Philadelphia she used to walk a mile with a rolling shopping cart just to get twenty dollars of food at the grocery store; she has never driven, and she eschews the aid of services who cater to transporting Senior Citizens. She never completed grade school, and subsequently can read at a very low level and has trouble balancing her checkbook – at the same time, she is one of the more perceptive people i know, even if she presents her perceptions in the most basic way possible.
I am her only grandchild, and she misses me. I miss her, and wish she was still in Philadelphia so i could stop by her house to pester her every week or two, but she’s not. What she is is just a phone call away, but everyone knows how much i hate the phone. Of course, hating the phone doesn’t really matter when it comes down to talking to someone you love who might not be around for a long time.
Last month i called and had a hilarious conversation with her, like the ones i used to have with her years ago when she would interrupt my video games and put away my GI Joes before their battles were over. She asked to talk to Elise for a minute, and Elise smiled the entire time. It was a window for each of us, on either side of the phone, to look through to a different sort of time.
I haven’t called since, and today i received a rather accusatory email from my cousin Ashley, who has largely been spending her free time hanging out with my grandmother (her great aunt). She told me, in no uncertain terms, that if i can’t make the time or find the motivation to call my grandmother then i really shouldn’t bother caring at all. My grandmother is depressed, not eating, and not her usual chatty self. But she wants to hear from me.
I want to call, and i do call, leaving chirpy messages on her machine when she’s not at home in the evenings. But, i still don’t know what to think, and i guess half of my reluctance to call her once every week or two is connected to. Of course, the other half of it is that i don’t even talk to my own mother once every two weeks, but that’s something else entirely.
For how much i claim to like the internet, i seem to enjoy it when my life is unplugged from just about everyone else’s. I’ll call again tomorrow night.