Distorted Truth: Letter #1
So, to start with, my maternal grandmother was a little bit of a “dirty whore”…yes, I just called my dear grandmother a “dirty whore”…of sorts. She was married something like 14 times (YES..14..fourteen, 10+4=14), seven of those to the same man over and over, but a grand total of 14, if my memory serves me correctly. She was essentially a good person, really she was, but she had a bit of a wild side, oh, and did I mention her addiction to opiates and benzo’s? Yup, I think that her “V” was her best friend and I believe that when she was diagnosed with cancer (more another time on this) she was a bit excited, because now she could get all of the Valium and other drugs she wanted, no questions asked. She was stern…not a warm and fuzzy grandma what-so-ever…as a matter of fact, we often didn’t know which side of her we would get when we would see her. She loved her men (obviously, remember…14 marriages), and she was a pro at juggling four or five of them at once! It was only recently that I realized her true lifestyle that took place right in front of my eyes, and how duped I was as a child, not recognizing it as abnormal at all. So, I am writing my first Letter2theDead to her, she has been gone about 16 years now.
: Letters2theDead #1: Dear Grandma.
Dear Grandma Wanda~
I know you may find this odd that I’ve written my first letter to you, but I have several reasons. We both know that you were also our families “good black sheep”, a phrase that I’ve also coined for myself, which is what I loved about you. You didn’t give a rats ass what other people thought of you and though that part of you didn’t sink into my personality until most recently, I knew it was there somewhere. I’ve actually pulled many of your traits, good and bad, and I think of you often, especially lately. You always told me not to draw lines in the sand with people because those lines didn’t keep people out, they merely kept you in. I think that you lived this “philosophy” of life in everything that you did. Though I don’t have a lot of fond, warm and fuzzy, snuggle up to grandma and let me tell you a story kind of memories with you, I do have a lot of hard knocks lessons that you taught me…inadvertently, of course. My memories are of you telling your “help” how to make your toast and coffee in the morning or how to do your hair….you were quite the hand full, even in your end of days.
You often took us (my younger sister and I) to clubs or “honkey tonks“, as I believe they were called, and we were exposed to all kinds of things! It was with you that I first heard the term “lot lizard” and learned what it was…I believe I was six years-old at the time! I also learned what a “lip leach” was, and have even used the phrase myself! It was during these times that we saw you at your “best”, smiling, socializing, even flirting (which freaks me out a little bit now when I think about it). You had a certain zeal for this type of lifestyle and I can literally remember the “men folk” hovering around you as if you were a trophy to be won. For me it was great because every suitor that came to win their prize always gave the ooh’s and aaah’s to your granddaughters, which meant for me that I got endless soda and quarters to play all the PacMan and Asteroids my little heart desired, just so they could get a moment alone with you. You were obviously quite the catch!
I remember the very first time the phone rang and at Great Grandma’s house and it was you calling. I could tell by the look on her face that something was wrong. (I will later write a letter to my Great Grandmother, who taught me everything about everything and some of the funniest things ever!) You had been beaten up by your then husband. You had apparently been to the “honkey tonk” and he was not a fan of you having so many suitors, even though only a few weeks earlier her was one himself. I remember, as a six year old, riding in the back of the car to “check on you” with Great Grandmother. We arrived and found you with a black eye, bruised cheek, bloody lip. I can remember when I saw this the first time, I played it over and over and over again in my mind. It was almost as if my mind wouldn’t accept it. I can remember feeling angry, extremely angry. I can remember you would constantly say “ssshhh”…”hush now”, and I couldn’t figure it out for the life of me, until I saw him passed out in bed. He was still there. The man who just beat the hell out of you was still there and you didn’t want to wake him. You claimed to me that he was messed up on his medication and he didn’t mean to do it, but I heard you tell Great Grandmother what really happened with the “honkey tonk” scene. I can remember thinking somebody call the police! The police will help! They help everyone! But this was not an option. After this had happened over and over and over and over (and over again), and with just about every man that you had married, it began to become a ritual of sorts on weekends at Great Grandmother’s. And what I couldn’t figure out is why you would stay. I remember overhearing you say why you stayed one night and it I was in a bit of disbelief and amazement. You said, quietly, “he has the money to pay the bills and it only happens when he drinks the hard stuff”. For me, it was a valid excuse. For me I accepted it because I’d seen my mother struggle for years being single and living off of welfare and I sort of understood what she was saying, but at the same time I was horrified every time I would look at her bruised and swollen face. This was the beginning of, what would be for me, a very distorted sense of what life should be like, and for this I do not thank you. For it was this that would cause me much heartache, physical abuse and self-hate for many years.
There are many quotes out there today that I can definitely relate to you, more than I could even begin to list, but here are a few…”Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes” (Oscar Wilde), “In love, it is better to know and be disappointed, than to not know and always wonder” (Author Unknown)..I think you took that quote to a whole new level (Ha!), and lastly “Men marry because they are tired, women because they are curious; both are disappointed” (Oscar Wilde)…again, another one you obviously took to heart, and to the extreme!
So, as I end this first of many Letters2theDead, I wanted to honor you with the first. I wrote it to you because it was you who came to mind when I thought of who had a great negative and positive impact on my life. And while this is only a little glimpse of everything I have to say to you, it’s a nice beginning for me. But don’t worry, I will return again, later perhaps, not to rat you out, but to show the world just how “good” a “black sheep” could be!
Thanks for reading!