Monday, May 23, 2011

something beautiful and something broken

my Nana died. i haven't spoken to her in many years, because she couldn't speak to me without making it miserable, a constant rehashing of my father and if he did or did not do what my sister says he did. and my choices. and my father. and my sister. and like that. i let her go, and with the exception of two phone calls over the years, she let me go too. she held on to my father. i am the mother of children, and although i should not, i understand. ' this situation ' is full of shoulds.  it has to be punctuated this way to perhaps and hopefully get across some of the strangeness and some of the delineations: involving family member X but not O, including the opinion of H and L but definitely not X, this way, " we " ( the family ) all know about it, extended, but only " us " know about it.   And one day the writer said when everyone is dead I'll write all about it. for now, it's simply enough to know that my Nana died. she knitted me a pink sweater with beautiful loops when i was three? four? and my sister, her namesake. my sister. her namesake. a sigh that goes on forever. she wrote me letters. she visited over summers, her broad intelligent face beaming and reeking of powder and department stores.  she dressed in skirts and slight heels, slacks but never jeans.  she wore jewelry. she was friendly with George Bush Sr. and the archbishop.  she was a lawyer as a young woman in Jackson, Mississippi, when women- mothers- were not supposed to be anything more than women, mothers.  she married my Grandfather and they had four children and my Grandfather was Supreme Court Justice and fought for civil rights. He was in a wheelchair. He had polio as a young man. He died when my father was a young man.  My Nana was reserved to the point of secretive while appearing ebullient and outgoing. She talked a blue streak. She had an accent as thick as the powder on her cheeks. My Nana said my name like this: Mahhgie Mhaay.  My Nana had three boys and they were tall and muscular and handsome and genius and stood next to their sister Ruby ( hi Aunt Ruby- she became, to my astonishment, a follower of my blog a year or so ago ) in smart lines with black shoes and caps and their beautiful faces shining to be photographed.  My Nana had three boys and they were mentally ill.  My Nana never, to my knowledge, said the words mentally ill in relation to her family.  My Nana was the mother of my Aunt Ruby who is gorgeous and traveled the country singing opera and who I resemble but in my opinion not enough. My Nana wore her grey hair in bouncy waves at the bottom, cut higher than shoulder and shorter than chin.  My Nana lived later in Boston and has now died in Boston in her eighties after a broken hip.  

When someone dies and all you can think is I wish it could have been different it hurts in a different way than it would have. Even if you know it couldn't have been.
Elizabeth said...

Oh, dear Maggie. I am so sorry -- I am so sorry. What you write is beautiful, poignant and redolent of your strength and dignity and heart full of love.

gojirama said...

Maggie, I am SO sorry...and I have been through something very similar with my mother. In the end, we reconciled before she died, but whether they were willing to admit it or not everyone breathed a sigh of relief that she would no longer be damaging everyone else's relationships.

Julia said...

Some day, sweet Maggie, your granddaughters will write about you with great love, and not a drop of regret.

Ms. Moon said...

Each person writes a different obituary for the deceased and you have written yours for your Nana. I wish it could have been different.
I love you, Maggie. Here. Let me hold your hand for a minute. Let me offer you a co'cola. Sometimes there is nothing so soothing as a co'cola.
That's what we think in the south, and I offer that to you.

svasti said...

This post resonates with me because my own nanna probably doesn't have many more years on this planet but I too, have let her go. Most of my family has.

Of course, that isn't easy. She is old and alone, living in a nursing home. She is being cared for primarily by my uncle - we've never been close to my mother's brother.

When we were young she made fig and apricot jam from the trees in her backyard. She made my sister and I toy clowns with long dangly legs and emboridered facial features. We had a ritual with cups of tea and biscuits on lovely little cup, saucer and plate china sets.

But she is also highly delusional, and was complicit in my mother's first (and illegitimate) child being forcibly adopted. She refuses to acknowledge any part in that series of events and blames my mother for all kinds of things, including the fact that when she was a child my mother refused to drink her milk.

As she got older, I watched in dismay as my nanna lost control of the connection between her brain and what her mouth was saying. Full sentences and phrases would be repeated on a loop, completely unbeknownst to her.

And I also watched as my nanna's viciousness (often mentioned by my mother but never seen by us grandkids) came to the fore and attacked everyone, including myself. She pushed us away with her words and her refusal to leave the house, until her isolation meant one too many falls and broken bones and she was transported, against her will to her current nursing home situation.

My nanna is proud and like your nanna, always cares about her hair and wants it to be impeccable. Bobby pins are a part of her daily grooming, probably even now.

But I don't know for certain because I've let her go. Like you say, it'd be nice if things could be different but they aren't.

Big hugs to you at this time. Death is hard, even if you've let someone go because they are still of the same blood as you, and you are a part of them, living on.

Hannah Stephenson said...

I'm sorry for your loss(es), Maggie.

Annie said...

Dear Maggie,
I'm sorry you lost your Nana, and I'm sorry things couldn't have been different. I also understand that situation, when a family member supports the wrong person, and fails to acknowledge the truth. You have to protect yourself, and you did. I know that it hurts, in so many ways. I'm sure you miss all the good things about her. And you are right to know, you made the only choices you could. Still, it hurts.

my3littlebirds said...

I can really relate to this story, this relationship. For me, one of the most difficult aspects of dealing with the deaths of certain loved ones is the loss of the possibility of things ever changing in a positive way. The loss of the potential for growth.
I'm so sorry for that loss for you and your grandmother.

Ida Mae said...

i am sorry for the loss of you Nana. it seems like it happened much sooner than it ever should have.
~ida mae

michelle said...

i truly believe we all do our best even if our best sucks

xoxoxo

Petit fleur said...

Families...

I'm sorry about your Nana, and that things couldn't have been different.

Sending you love,
pf

Vodka Mom said...

yes, a mother finally does understand the complicated way life unfolds.

However, a good hearted person should never fear the path that lies ahead.


And you are a good hearted person.

yolanda said...

so sorry, maggie...
love you!

michelle said...

i'm so sorry maggie.

xoxoxo

starrlife said...

Hugs Maggie- so sorry it sounds so hard.

Allison the Meep said...

Maggie, I am so sorry for this loss. This loss, after a succession of losses in this relationship, it seems. Family is so hard. Sending you love and healing thoughts.

CitricSugar said...

I'm sorry about your nana, and sorry I've been absent. Many hugs and much love.

Maggie May said...

Citric it is really good to hear from you. xo

Phoenix said...

This is pretty damn close to the bone, this post, and I will probably write something similar (though not indeed as beautiful) when my own father passes away.

Family is complicated, full of dark and murky waters of truth and love that insists on loving despite those truths and whether that's the biggest sin or the greatest mercy of all we will never know.

Captain Dumbass said...

That family relationship sounds sadly familiar, but I suppose everybody can say that to some degree. In the end those problems never seem worth it.

Jessica said...

This was so beautiful and sad at the same time. I am sorry for your loss and completely understand your feelings. I felt that same way when my dad died. It was hard. I think we silently reconciled, but when he passed I could not help but go through the if-a. could-a, should-as. And, I think, to certain extent, all that is normal.

Drax said...

I'm sorry babe.

Caroline of Salsa Pie said...

I understand, Maggie. I really do. Although the circumstances were different, there were complexities in my family that resemble yours--in many, many ways including the souther nuances...

I am so sorry for your loss...it helped me to write about it too when I lost my Granddaddy...

Love to you all...

mosey said...

Love to you.

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