On November 2nd 1992, I alone bared witness as my Grandmother’s mind finally took the descent from being only slightly cracked, to becoming wholly fractured as my Grandfather lie dieing on their kitchen floor. As she whisked me off to his library amid the confusion of paramedics and family members, I remember being incredibly confused and frightened as she commanded me to pray to god and violently forced me onto my knees into the closet to do so. Upon retrospection of this evening, it was not her calling out to a god that I had never before heard her mention that foreshadowed the events of coming years, but rather the fact that that night, the spirits began to talk back to her.
My earliest memories of her begin as she babysat me on the weekends, when my parents needed “alone time“. My Grandmother has long been an undiagnosed obsessive compulsive, and at this point, she was captured in the depths of her vitamin craze stage. I remember well these days with her, but it is the days following those visits I remember with much more clarity. The day always consisted of taking the seven vitamins that she had set out for me beside each meal, while the days afterward consisted on the excruciating fecal ramifications of introducing foreign vitamins and minerals to an undeveloped six year old digestive system.
But these early memories were not all bad. Often at this age, as did my father, I would have terrible migraines, and she would hold my head in a dark room for hours at a time until they mostly passed. I remember being amazed during these times with her, when she seemed so genuinely loving and warm. But as soon as the headache was gone, she was immediately on the phone to my Mother, lecturing about the vitamin deficient causes of the pain.
The death of my Grandfather brought about an abrupt end to the vitamin stage, and ushered in a spiritual one. It was less than one business week after his death she began to claim that the dead were making contact with her. Eventually they were telling her things that my Grandfather had done to her, without her having known so. It is hard for any family to deal with the loss of a loved one, let alone a patriarchical figure that was the sole gatherer of families that rarely saw eye to eye. But when a Grandmother is telling her children, grandchild, and anyone who will listen (including the alleged mistresses husband and family) about the messages from beyond the dead of his extramarital affairs (with no physical shred of proof), it is damn near impossible for any rational mind to deal with.
It was for this reason that she basically became disowned from her family for nearly a decade. My Grandfather’s family abandoned her due to the smearing of his well known name, my father abandoned her for the obvious reason, my aunt good-heartedly attempted to include her in her young children’s lives, whilst wisely whispering words of psychiatric commitment. All of this while, I alone took the daunting task of visiting with her once a week, of enduring séances where she spoke ill of my Grandfather, of going out to dinner at the same salad buffet and having everyone watch as she loudly argued with spirits that no one could see, yet she could seemingly hear clear as day.
When finally feelings settled down, the family began to slowly learn to ignore her constant badgering about the spirit world, and for a time, people began to again see each other, albeit uneasily for the holidays. It was not many years into this time when my Aunt Tam succumbed to cancer after an arduous fight. How hard it obviously was on her kids, my younger cousins, I can not even imagine. I tried (as did others) whenever present to keep my Grandmother from attempting to make them contact their deceased mother, but it turned out to be an insurmountable task. I could not convince her that despite her beliefs, no one else in the family felt the same, and that no one wanted to hear what she believed Tam was saying. Incredibly, Tam’s husband begrudgingly dealt with it, and still willingly does to this day, in an effort to give their kids a grandmother.
When I finally decided I needed to leave Ohio in order to start my own life, and move to California with my now wife, my Grandmother was not happy. Her response came the day before I was to leave, by claiming to the family that I emptied her trash can onto her lawn, and broke her flag pole in half. My Father, in an amazing attempt to make things right before I left, went to investigate. He discovered her garbage had been gone through by raccoons, and that the .50 cent flag on a pole no bigger than a pencil had been knocked over in the process. When he asked how she knew it was me, she responded “Because the spirits told me so”. I then tearfully went to her place in an effort to talk her out of this notion, to no avail.
That following Christmas I was not able to return to Ohio, so I sent my wife with her present. Earlier that year I had a phone conversation with my Grandmother about a class I was taking, and I understood her to be genuinely interested in my class, Critical Thinking. So being a poor college student, I sent her my textbook as opposed to returning it for the $5.99 re-buy at the campus bookstore. Her response was to storm back to my wife’s mothers house the next day, throw the book at her, and demand back the $100.00 savings bond that she had given us for a Christmas present (which was purchased by my grandfather in an effort to provide me with a college education). When I called her to confront her on this situation, she then disowned me, saying that I had never been there for her, so her life would go on with little noticeable difference.
That next July I married my wife at a formal ceremony in Ohio. My family pushed me to invite her, again and again and again. I declined to the very end. It’s not that I had finally had enough of her, far from it. It’s that I would never let anyone treat the love of my life in that absurd, mean-spirited fashion. I was then informed that upon her finding out, I was fully disowned as she berated my father into returning the part of my inheritance that had already been disbursed, and was sitting in a bank lock box vault.
I do not hate my Grandmother, but I do pity her, and it would be more than a lie to say that I do harbor any ill feelings towards her. I still haven’t spoken to her since before the wedding. The last I heard from my father, she is nearing the end of her spiritual obsessive/compulsive phase. According to him, her new craze is that aliens have infiltrated the world and are currently living among humans. As little common sense as it makes, I look back and cherish those days of near vomit inducing migraines as some of my best fondest memories of being with her, as it is the only point in our relationship that I have ever felt unconditionally loved by her.