My grandmother died sometime between February 2 and 3. We still don’t know the exact hour; therefore, I have no date to put in the front of my uncle’s Bible.
I got up yesterday. I got dressed. Because it was so damn dreary, I wanted color, so I fished out one of my summer dresses (blue with pink and red flowers), a light jacket/shirt thing (deep blue), and a nice pair of tights (yellow). I bought the dress in the first place because it reminded me of what Oma always wore, only hers were longer, of course. Then, because my hair was unbearably greasy and I needed to go out in public, I topped the whole thing off with a red silk kerchief.
Dad yelled for me. He told me he needed me downstairs, right away. “What’d I do now?” I asked him as I eased myself into a chair.
And then he told me.
I was the third person in the whole family to find out. My aunt called Dad, who told me. My mom was ten minutes from home, so we couldn’t very well call her; it’s winter in Western New York. Bad Things would have happened. So then I called my man, who became person number four, and yes, he’s been most supportive, if unable to get away. That’s fine. I don’t want to give him this cold.
Mum… wasn’t inconsolable. I wailed the house down and proceeded to sniffle into Addy’s fur the rest of the time. Mum just wept, then pulled herself together long enough to call her sister. Twice. And be practical. My mother is really very practical. She’s actually working tomorrow, because they’re a few people down in a small department, boss included. (Bigger boss, however, will hear, as she has got to make her arrangements. The funeral is overseas, after all.)
Don’t know whether it’s all the sickness or just grief, but I felt tired and achy. I went to sleep around midnight and woke around three. I really shouldn’t have put myself to bed at midnight. Everything hurts right now, down to my very soul, though the soul pain is pretty distant right now. Mostly I am exhausted, but I can’t sleep, and the thought of choking down a cup of sleepytime tea is met with rioting by my GI tract.
Thinking one will never see one’s grandmother again and knowing it are two very different things. Yes, yes, she went peacefully; I’ve always held firm that it’s the living who suffer most when a person dies. I resent very much that I can’t fly over for the funeral. The thing is that even if I could, I couldn’t stay long. I have that critical appointment on February 10. (Which my father will help with.) I’d only be underfoot. Better they settle things, and when I’m able, I make my own pilgrimage.
And I shall have to take an interest in the running of The House now. Not our house. The House. The one with all my memories in it. The one my aunt now occupies all alone, rattling ’round like a marble in a teapot. I think she’d be smart to rent the upstairs to another spinster, except that she would have to install an upstairs shower and a full downstairs kitchen. Keep the space for young cousins getting on their feet? All second cousins, of course; I am my grandmother’s sole direct descendant in this generation. Mainly I want The House to stay there until I can come back. I have to trust that my mother and aunt will prevail over their brother’s instinct to Sell It All and Make A Ruddy Fortune.
My whole uncle. Not my half one. Though my half one was better. My whole one hardly cares that I’m alive, let alone a quarter of his family now. I wonder whether he will care more or less after this? Well, he’ll learn, because when it comes to The House, I am not in a mood to be moved. My grandfather’s dead? Fine. My grandmother’s dead? Fine. But he will not tear down the last I have of them until I am damn good and ready for it to go, and since I may well be widowed at an ungodly young age, “good and ready” is looking like “not on your life, buddy”.
Must dash. That’s my aunt on the phone, apparently not cognisant of the time difference.