If I were at church with her on that Sunday, maybe she wouldn’t have fallen and hit her head. Falls have always preceded bad things in granny’s life. She once fell into a grave. I have no idea how that happened. She couldn’t walk for a month after that fall. While in Pathmark many years ago, she tripped over one of those contraptions used to carry boxes. All she got from that fall was five hundred lousy dollars and one shoulder that ended up being higher than the other one. Then there was her fall on Pitkin Avenue during my senior year of high school. She fell so hard that people heard it down the street. That fall led to her onset of seizures. And then there was this latest fall. She tripped and fell in church a couple of months ago. She says it felt as if something picked her up into the air and threw her down. I think her recurrent clumsiness was the real culprit. She says she doesn’t think she hit her head. But, her recent stories about people entering our house through keyholes and naked people defecating in our backyard leads me to believe otherwise.
I’m scared. It frightens me to think of what’s happening and what may happen to my granny – almost to the point of paralysis. My chest feels tight. It’s hard for me to breathe. Maybe I’m just too scared to breathe. Paralysis – too afraid to come home because I don’t know what I’ll face, how she’ll be, what state of mind she’ll be in, or what kind of night she’ll have.
As I walk through the yuppified streets of Forte Greene, I envy the young, fabulous, carefree, college-educated people who block the sidewalks as they smoke their cancer sticks. I envy them as they recount trivial arguments with their roommates, enjoy their outdoor meals at over-priced restaurants, and make their way to nearby bars and lounges. I envy them, as I smell their perfume – or maybe it’s that fruity smelling shampoo all the college kids use. I envy the girls in their sundresses, shorts and tank tops. I envy all of them because they are headed for a night of carefree fun, while I am headed home – to what I do not know. To a granny who is losing her mind, but does not know it; refuses to accept it.
Granny is the only person I have in the world. The only person who has always loved me. Without her, I will be alone in the world. Truly forced to fend for myself. I now know how a college friend felt 9 years ago in Hewitt Dining Hall. She burst into tears at the mere mention of her ailing grandmother – the grandmother with whom she had lived all her life. I now know how a family friend felt during her adoptive mother’s sickness. Perhaps I’ve spent my life largely detached from the others. Ignorant of loss, or the sense of impending loss. I guess I’ve learned what empathy really means.
Although my granny has been sick before, I am faced with her mortality in a way in which I have never been. She has always bounced back before. I am hoping she will bounce back this time. I am praying. If there was ever a time I needed to pray and believe in a power high than myself or fate, it is now. I’m faced with the possibility of life without her – or life without her as she has always been – strong, fierce, independent, caregiver. I guess prayer provides hope that things will get better. Prayer eases the heart and the mind.
When I was in the sixth grade, my class had a potluck party and each child had to bring a dish. My granny made two pans of macaroni and cheese. My teacher, Mrs. Steinberg, loved my granny’s mac and cheese so much that she took home one pan for herself. Granny and I still laugh about ole greedy Mrs. Steinberg. I’m the world’s most horrible cook, but granny taught me how to make macaroni and cheese a couple of weeks ago. She actually liked it and bragged about it to her friend. I’ll continue to savor the lessons she’s taught me, and the love she gives me. I’ll continue to make my granny some macaroni and cheese.