Sunday, May 13, 2018

Dear Grandma 1

Dear Grandma,

I wonder what you would say to me right now. I wonder if Mother's Day will forever be a source of pain and tears. Last night I wrote in my journal that I have to turn every negative thought into a positive one, but I cannot. I wonder if you were ever able to do that. In the last few years I noticed how negative you were about everything and I found it so hard to talk. You kept asking me if I was mad at you because I didn't visit as much. In fact, I barely made time for you in spite of being so close. I'll never forget the day I promised to take you out around noon on a Sunday and then I didn't realize that I forgot until after my yoga class. By the time I came over I caught you changing clothes back into comfy home clothes. It was 1pm-ish, and I tried to get you to go out anyway, but you declined. It was the most beautiful day in Chicago. I wanted to take you to Lake Michigan and push your wheelchair around so you could get the breeze on your face. It is one of my biggest regrets that I didn't try harder to get you out there. I couldn't even take you to the damn lake. How pathetic is that.

I wonder what you would say to me right now. I wonder if you would tell me to make peace with mom even though she is dangerous. I wonder how you would have reacted if you could have seen her last year in her largest manic episode yet. I wonder what you would have said to Uncle if you heard him scream at me the way he did. I wonder if you knew you had 2 sick children and you hung on for so long to help them. Or to help me.

I wonder what you would say to me right now. At particularly low points I often ask for your guidance. I think of your voice and imagine you here with me. I realize that there isn't anyone else that I could talk to the way I talked to you. What would you tell me? Would you tell me to give up and go home like mom did? Would you tell me that someday I'll be somebody, like you used to? I always wondered what that meant. What is "somebody."

I wonder what you would have said to me last year when I got laid off. You would probably tell me about the time you lost your job and you cried all the way back home on the 2 buses and the long walk. Maybe it was 3. 3 busses. I can't remember now, isn't that sad? Am I confusing your story with mom's? She got laid off from Jewel and cried and couldn't find anything for a few months, but then they asked her back. One of your bus stories in particular stuck in my mind. You had a little time and a small bit of money left at the end of the month and you decided to stop at Carson's downtown on your way home from the South Side. You picked out a dress and was so happy to have something new. But you fell asleep on the bus, and it slipped from your grasp. You woke up in time to get off the bus, but you forgot to check for the dress until you were walking home and realized it was gone.

I wonder what you think of my life compared to yours. I wonder what you think of my debt, my lack of work, my inability to establish stability and save. I wonder where it all went wrong.

I wonder what you would have said to me if you could have seen mom scream at me the way she did. I wonder if you knew what abusive behavior is. I wonder if you would have saved me from her if you really knew what she was, or believed in it. I wonder if there was an incident in mom's life that triggered her illness. She told me a story about how shortly after arriving to this country, she was in gym class and had to swim in the pool. She couldn't swim so she just splashed around. She said that back then they gave you swimsuits to wear when you didn't have your own. But when she got back to the locker room, some mean girls, she called them: greasers, had taken all her regular clothes as a prank. She didn't know what to do, so she left and walked home in winter in the swimsuit and tried to cover herself so her nipples weren't exposed. She said that you were home when she got back and she just cried and cried. So you went to the school the next day and reamed the principal out, and I wondered how you did that with limited English.

I wonder what you would say if you realized that your granddaughter is just unsuccessful. I didn't meet the success expectations at all, by any stretch of the imagination, in any category of normal adult experience. I wonder what you would tell me right now if you knew that. I was somehow, supposed to make up for all of this. I thought I could help you. I thought I would make you proud. I thought I would realize the dream. And I failed. It feels like I failed at everything I have done. And I have done a lot, more than you could imagine. But somewhere, I failed. And now I am in a deep bind and lost and seeking advice again. And it seems like I am doomed toward this cycle of bad, despite trying. I know that it is not very yoga-like of me to view things this way, but here we are, facing the same problems over and over. Broke, alone, no income, no prospects, need to find apartment, in tears. I wonder why it has been so hard for me to just land something decent.

I wonder if you saw me teaching last year. I wonder if you thought I did well. I wonder if you would think it's worth it. All the time and effort and agony. Funny how after only 4 years I could barely bring myself to apply for more teaching jobs. After all that, I spent the entire summer looking for work, and being so desperate I ended up at a restaurant along with some of my students. After all the weekends and late nights and all the grading. And all for what? To be broke again.  All that effort. For nothing. I wonder if you would tell me to keep going, or to try something else. And what else? What else is there that would just keep me and let me grow?

I wonder what you think of my yoga/dance business. I wonder what you think of how I'm running it. I wonder what you would say if you could see it and see what I've done to make it better. I wish you could be here and see it. I wonder what advice you would give me. I know you would say: "Don trust nobody." You told me over and over how much you wanted a little restaurant, but Grandpa wouldn't support you in the idea. I wonder why he didn't. I wonder why he never opened his own bakery. I wonder if maybe I will.

I wonder if I was ever thoughtful or nice to you on Mother's Day. I hope so.  I wonder what you would say if you could see me right now. '

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