Loving Complexly

This was my Grandmother’s birthday.

It’s a strange, raw thing to feel she’s gone. It’s especially strange because, while I’ve described her as being a complex person to love, I don’t know if I quite properly conveyed what her absence means.

See, the thing is, it used to be this time of year I’d actually feel really uncomfortable. I’d dread mixing up the day I needed to call her, or call her too late in the day. Or call too early and have her mad about that.

But what was she going to do to me? Well, she’d apply pressure to my family. She’d make the time they saw her – out of obligation and guilt – full of recrimination at me. And that meant that suddenly my action was hurting people close to me, and they’d reach out to me, and share their guilt. And then I missed a phone call, or I didn’t make the phone call long enough and now my parents put pressure on my sister who put pressure on me, and maybe even sometimes to Fox, my partner.

The day I failed my high school exams, she decided to call me up and insult me for it.

For a long time, Fox used to think that I was a thoughtless dick when I put distance between me and my family over family gatherings and events. Didn’t quite click until recently that I was making a lot of deliberate choices.

Her funeral sucked. It sucked because her two twin sons got up and told us a detailed history of how their mother met their father, and how his ministry moved them around, their memories of how she handled serving their father’s ministry, and then when their father died, the story jumped forty years to ‘and now she has joined him.’

The messed up thing is, I still miss her? And I still love her? I’m so sad and mad about the fact that she spent forty years sitting in her home, alone, mad. But I’m mad about how all the times we did things to try and help her, how we met with her, how we tried to make friends with her and help her do things, she drove us away, constantly.

I remember her insulting my weight.

I saw my dad, the weekend his mother had died. And I remember him sitting there, quietly stunned, saying, I thought she’d outlive me.

Really makes Valentines’ Day more stressful.

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