Diapers and Dragons

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Deep and Bitter Well

I don't know how to let go of the anger.

I thought it was gone, or at least faded. I haven't seen my grandmother in over year, and that was at my paternal grandfather's funeral, where my interaction was somewhat minimal, and I was able to smile and make nice on a day that precluded personal comments or criticisms. She smiled and said very little and mostly seemed old, vague, frail.

I haven't visited her in years, not since the summer of 2009 when my brother went with me and the boys. He performed beautifully in the Buffer role that my mother usually takes. I was distant and sad, keeping mainly to myself or spending time with the boys on the beach, mulling over the disintegration of my first marriage. I think Grandma didn't quite know what to say to me, and thankfully she kept her opinions on my marital quasi-status to herself.

I frankly admit this: I have avoided her. When I can get away with not seeing her at all, I do. I use my family and schedule as a convenient, albeit legitimate, excuse. On the rare occasions that I attend family functions in my area, I say little other than greetings, farewells, and a touch of polite chitchat in between. I rarely think about her, and when I do, mostly feel indifferent. Distance and rarity of interaction have swathed memory and emotion in protective padding.

Yesterday when I retrieved the mail, I found a card from her. My first thought upon seeing the envelope was I wonder if she's writing me to say she's proud of me? To apologize? Would I even care if she did?

I opened the card last, and realized as I picked it up that my hands were shaking. Not so distant from the emotions after all.  Anger. Hope. Sorrow. Resentment.

She invited me to Thanksgiving. More accurately, she wrote to invite you and your husband and your little boy.

Boy? Did she have the right granddaughter in mind? Was she thinking of my sister? My cousin C? My cousin D? They each have one small son.

The rest of the card made it clear that indeed she intended it for me. So what did she mean by this phrase? Was she neglecting to use MTL's name on purpose? Could she not remember to whom I am married? Was she intending a subtle recognition that he is, in fact, my husband (despite divorce and remarriage)? Did she intend to leave my stepchildren out of the invitation? She could have written you and your family, you know.

Or am I overthinking a few words written by an elderly woman whose mind is increasingly vague and "off"? Am I allowing old, old bitterness to cloud my reaction?

We won't be able to go way up to her house for Thanksgiving, but we already plan to go, with almost the entire Horde and my parents, for a few days following Christmas. I had thought I would be able to handle proximity fairly easily. My mother will be there, and most likely my brother as well, and I can always escape to the snowy outdoors with my husband to throw snowballs at our children or take walks through the woods.

Now I'm uncertain.

The anger is still there. It has sunken with time, become still rather than tumultuous. But the well is deep and bitter, and I fear I may never be able to drain it of the dregs.

1 bits of love:

Middle State said...

Welcome back to the blogosphere! I, too, struggle with a boiling pot of anger that won't settle. Although most of my life is happy, there is that pot on the stove, steaming away, threatening to drown the happiness. I look forward to your posts.

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