Ten Years Gone
Ten years ago this month, we said goodbye to my grandmother. Without her, I would not be the independent soul I am today. She gave me a place to be myself, and a place to be alone with the voices in my head. I would sprint to her house, run upstairs, and write, or read, or listen to music.
My grandma was one of the kindest people in the whole world. She never had a negative thing to say about anyone, unless they served her tomato soup. She hated tomato soup.
One of my aunties would drive up from Missouri to talk shit about the family. “Did you hear Auntie G. is spending more time in Florida than in Chicago these days?” she’d say, her tone implying a scandal. “G. always did like Florida,” Grandma would reply. “I liked it down there. You should visit them sometime.” “Oh, I never,” Auntie would say, and move on to the next family member.
With such a wonderful role model, you’d think I would have been the nicest child. Not so much. I was a horrible little shit to my grandma. We lived so close, and I took her for granted. I knew she would always be there. After the cancer diagnosis, I started pushing her away. Yes, even as an adult, I was a horrible little shit. And then, the woman I knew would always be there…wasn’t.
Not much has changed in the last ten years. I’m still a horrible shit. If people get too close to me, I push them away. If people ask too much of me, I freak out. If people violate my privacy in any way, I block them, even if they’re related, or my own fucking sister.
In the last ten years, though, I’ve written eight novels and six short stories. (I know that’s a little lopsided, but short stories are a new development for me.) In the last ten years, I’ve never lost sight of my dream. Five years ago, I joined the Pride board. Four years ago, I went to YaoiCon for the first time. Last year, I published my first short story. This year, I’m going to try to publish my first novel.
I still think of Grandma every day, usually when I’m working out like mad, or drinking my milk. “See, Grandma? Not getting osteoporosis.” No, that’s not the only time I think of her. Most of the furniture, wall-hangings, and knick-knacks in my house belonged to her. I can’t look in a mirror. We look nothing alike, but most of my mirrors belonged to her. I cherish each and every item. I have a decorative lamp that I broke when I was ten, and she tried to super-glue it back together. It looks terrible, but I will never get rid of that lamp.
I may have been a little shit, but I know who I am and I know who my people are. My grandma was a strong, beautiful, and resilient woman. She lost her husband, the love of her life, forty years before she died. She never forgot him, and she never remarried. She had the farm, and she had us.
I will never be just like her when I grow up, but I’ve tried to live by her example. I have my city, I have my tribe, and I have my Lemur. I thank Grandma every day for teaching me what is important, and what is not. I thank her for being the model of perfection I know I will never achieve, but I will strive toward every day.