The most interesting news I have to report today (pathetically) has to do with my grandmother's mild obsession with Klondike bars. It started with a sale (2 for $5) at her corner grocery store, when she bought an innocent sum of 2 boxes. Then, a few days later after an excursion to Kroger, in which the boxes of 6 bars were on sale for $2.32/box, she bought TEN more. Now, while I love a pure white vanilla ice cream block covered in melt-in-your-mouth chocolate as much as the next person, I have never found it necessary to stockpile them in apocalypse-preparation quantities. My grandmother, on the other hand, sees absolutely nothing wrong with such a voluptuous purchase because it was such a good deal. So now she has a full NINE boxes left. Here's proof:
I guess I bring all of this up because this week marks the last few days of me living with my grandmother. It started back in April, when she was in the hospital for a few weeks, and I stayed here to be closer to the hospital and take care of her cat. That was about 2 1/2 weeks, and then later on in June I full-on moved in after getting rid of my apartment so I wouldn't have to pay rent while I was in Italy. So I lived with her for a few weeks before leaving for Italy, and have been here since I returned.
I love my grandmother with all of my heart. She has single-handedly encapsulated what little family I have, and always offered me more than is necessary (or possible) when it comes to her money, time, energy, or anything else- for the extent of my entire life. She has been my one constant throughout. While I was away in Italy, she turned 90. I don't know if was the actual passing of this milestone that made me more aware or if she herself finally decided she was "getting old", but something has shifted. She seems more needy and clingy lately, which of course makes me want to get the hell out of here asap. We will be sitting together quietly in her living room watching TV or reading, and she will ask me out of no where: "Why don't you talk to me like you talk to your friends?" Dumbfounded and caught off-guard I will say "Well, Grandma, I don't really talk to them much, either. They usually do most of the talking, and it's usually not about anything more than plans for the night."
"Oh. OK." She will say, somewhat satiated. "I just wish you talked to me like you used to when you were little."
And usually the conversation ends here. I don't know what to say.
Having outlived nearly ALL of her friends and family, including my dad- her son, she lives in an interesting emulsion of past and present. Her memories of the past- crystal clear in their recollection- provide sustenance for her to make it through the now, which consists mostly of house chores and the 10 o'clock news. So I feel a certain amount of obligation to her, especially after all she has given me in my life. But when she wants me to talk to her like I used to, sitting on top of her dryer in her cool, damp basement when I was 7, I got nothing. 23 years have past and I'm not that little girl anymore.
It is hard for me to find a balance when dealing with my grandmother, and not get sucked into her abyss of needy, suffocating emotional unawareness. This week I have noticed my patience wearing thin while listening to the 150th repetition of the same old stories . And I miss living on my own- being able to wake, eat, sleep, nap or leave whenever I feel the fancy. Although, I have to admit, she has gotten much better about waking me up at 7 a.m. to have breakfast with her- today she didn't even wake me up and I was able to get out of bed in my own time.
I hate to give the impression of being an ungrateful and spoiled granddaughter when she is nothing but willing to help me out in any way I need. But I am starting feel the un-naturalness of our temporary arrangement. We have 60 years between us, exactly, and lead completely opposite lives in almost every way. She keeps an immaculate home (and I do not use that word lightly), and I, well, let's just say I'm a little more relaxed about housekeeping. I have more going on in my life that replaces the need to vacuum everyday, and for her, vacuuming is her life. It is these chores and weekly routine of housework that are her primary focus, and what her life is built around. Honestly, I can't relate to that at all. I'm still beginning my life, and hers is on "maintenance", having already been lived and experienced fully.
That's not to say that my grandmother doesn't surprise me every once in while with a totally hilarious statement or question. Like one Sunday I got here before she had returned from church. I was waiting in the driveway as she sped past and pulled into the garage. She jumped out of the car, huffing and puffing. "Christina, I HATE that priest! I hate him, I hate him, I hate him!" She is a devout Catholic, and so her fervent anger towards the priest who had brought props into church that morning left me quite amused. Or, the time we were in the car driving somewhere and she blurts out, matter-of-factly: "BB's! That's where I get my liquor." I almost had to pull off to the side of the road to collect myself. And my favorite, during one of our week night dinners together when I was not speaking to my mother. She had made her displeasure of me quite clear, and I offered my apology for disappointing her. "Oh, I'm not disappointed in you. But God is." To this I just about spat my mouthful of pasta across the room. I could not contain the uproarious laughter that her ridiculous comment prompted in me. And she could not understand what was so incredibly funny.
Sometimes I laugh at my grandmother, and sometimes with her. Ultimately, I know I love her and that my impatience with her probably has more to do with not having taking my medication for a few weeks than with her being uber-annoying all-of-a-sudden. Maybe as a peace offering I'll ask her if she wants to have a Klondike bar with me before we go to bed.