As you get older you start conversing with death more regularly. It is quite amazing how quiet death can be in your youth; where endless possibilities dominate the discussions. Death only whispering in your ear every now and again, grabbing your attention for small brief moments in your youth; becoming increasingly louder as you age. Until it reaches a fervor pitch, eventually drowning out possibilities and leaving you waiting for "it's" handshake with your heart.
Hospice workers are visiting my last remaining grandmother regularly now. It is almost time. She has been living in adult foster care for years now. Moving her there really began her decline. Taking people out of their homes, dumping them in a single room, then keeping them doped up and sat down in front of the television doesn't lend for much mental or physical stimulation. Especially when family and friends do not visit regularly. All of these factors lend to ensuring a form of Alzheimers will develop.
I do not know why, but I was always Grandma's favorite. She didn't get to see me that often growing up, as my parents divorced when I was three and my mom left the state with me.
Yet I did spend the first part of my life in her home. She has told me a few memories from that time. She also babysat my sisters, cousins, and seconds cousins regularly so all the parents could work. This meant she would babysit me from time to time while I was visiting my dad every other summer. Eventually the babysitting stopped, at least for my side of the family; as we got older and my dad and stepmom just left us at home alone instead.
I use to idolize her. She was single the entire time I knew her. Living on her own, going out and doing her own thing, gardening and taking care of her own home - a home that she had helped build!
I didn't know the truth of it all until I was in my twenties and living back in Oregon. I spent a lot of time with my Grandma then. Her house was comforting to me. The memories it held. Most especially I loved just visiting with my Grandma.
I learned during these visits how my Grandpa cheated on her. How he moved out from living with her and into his girlfriends home. How long it took for her to finally put her foot down and tell him he could no longer gallivant between the beds of the women in his life - he had to choose. He chose his girlfriend.
Yet they never divorced. His money and benefits from the Navy all came to her. She was always his wife and she never had another lover, dated, nor anything after that.
I wish I knew more about it, Dad never talks about it. I wonder if Grandpa left when the three boys where still young, or of they had all been older? I wonder how they handled Grandpa being an ass? What was it all like for them?
I have a brief idea of what it was like for Grandma, because she spoke to me about it and I caught the reflective pauses, inflection changes, and subtle looks she gave while thinking about it. It was always weird for me to recognize how vulnerable this woman, who lived on her own and took care of her damned self!, truly was.
People say she and I looked a lot a like when comparing pictures of her and I in our teen years. Here is a picture of her in her early twenties I believe:
When they moved her to the foster care she started forgetting my visits to her. She couldn't hold much of a conversation anymore. She always knew who I was, but never really when it was. It got hard to visit and see her like that. Now I feel guilty as I have only really made one or two attempts a year over the past few to see her. Last time I went she couldn't even stay awake and had become bed ridden.
Now hospice is visiting regularly and making sure she is in the best comfort as she prepares to feel Death's final handshake upon her heart.
It makes me sad that I didn't spend more time learning about her. Knowing her life and how she grew up. She lived in the middle of what is now pretty much gangland when it was all just fields and farm.
Three of the four houses that encompassed her side of the street on the 86th block, just off of SE Division in Portland, were built by my Great-grandfather, Grandfather, Great-Grandmother, and her. Now they are all old and falling apart as no one in the neighborhood really cares about having a beautiful home anymore. In what that neighborhood has become they simply cannot afford to. They also shoved two row houses in right next to Grandma's old house, in what use to be a large side yard that was part of Grandma's property.
There are cars lining the streets and lawns of the neighborhood and the beauty of the area is completely gone. There is nothing there that displays anything of the beauty, farm, and people who made that area thrive for two full generations. It is so sad how quickly and strangely everything changes.
It started getting bad in Grandma's neighborhood when I was about 13. She got robbed a few times; waking up to flashlights in her face and men in her bedroom telling her not to scream or they would kill her. Yet she stayed there, and would have continued to stay there had she not been turned back into a child, decisions suddenly being made for her, then placed into a small room of things, and forgotten.
At least I will disappear quicker, (I am already forgotten a lot of the time as it is), as there is no one to remember me. There is no one to regret not getting the full account of my story and in turn no one to lose out on finding a piece of history that personally belongs to them. No one to understand my life's possible effects on the world around it. No one to find out how my life was affected by the rest of the world.
After Grandma passes, all of the family women who affected my life the most will be gone; except my little sister. Maybe I should get her story before it is too late.
It always seems to be too late though. I will never know my brothers because no one told me about them until the one person who could give me details died. No one tells me about a lot of things. Choosing to lie or keep things quiet so as not to hurt my heart. Do I come across so fragile? Because I am not. I want to know - as much as I can, before Death grips my heart and every ounce of me disappears from this planet.
A disappearance which could be at any given moment. Something I learned with more poignant reality as I happened to be exploring my friends list on Facebook. I was checking out people I heard little from since FB decided to change from displaying all my friends post to just those I had interacted with recently. I learned if I just went and said "hi" on their homepage and they responded I would start seeing them in my feed again.
Being nostalgic lately, I was looking at people I had gone to junior high and high school with, and the first name I clicked on was dead.
She would be my age and I met her during my freshman year in high school. Well technically during the last 4 weeks of my 8th grade year in junior high. I had just moved to the area and had to attend school for those last four weeks to be counted as eligible to graduate from 8th grade in the State of Colorado, even though I had already finished in Alaska.
Amy was awesome and we corrupted each other. She was beautiful and sassy to, with a short hair-do I kind of envied at the time. She was sporty, attractive, and had the attention of a lot of boys at school. Unlike me.
This is Amy back around the time I knew her in High School.
I helped her be at ease with sex and her sexuality in general. No, we were not lesbians, she was just a virgin and I wasn't, so we had lots of talks.
I knew her for a little over a year because as soon as my freshman year was over, we moved, again.
I found her again in about 2008 through Facebook. We chatted a bit and caught up. She was living in Florida and soon moved to North Carolina. She was single, no kids, loved her dogs, and was a hair dresser. She was still beautiful and looked hot in a bikini! She was still sassy, independent, and strong; a beautiful specimen of feminine strength and beauty.
She died a horrible death in an accident
in her car on January 24, 2011, with her dogs.
I was shocked to go to her page to say "hi" and find nothing but people posting how much they loved and missed her and still couldn't believe she was gone; even all this time later. She was loved.
In the past few years alone, people have been giving their hearts to Death fairly regularly. Some I have been closer to than others, yet all of them I was pretty shocked to see go.
As I continue to age this just becomes more and more the norm and people just don't seem to want to talk about or truly acknowledge it much. *sigh*
Maybe I am morbid for thinking often about what Death will say when Death comes for me. Will it be a soft whisper of forgetfulness until eventually I just dissipate? Or will it be a loud primal scream that hits me hard and shakes my core? Will it be a fearful boast or a gentle kiss? Will my memory live, in turn keeping me alive, after my physical is gone? Eh, I can answer that last question, no it will not - there is no one to remember.
In my youth, unlike most, Death spoke to me often. The fact I am here and alive is, in someways, unexpected. Top that off with the amount of times Death sat nearby and shook the hearts of those close, sometimes taking them directly, sometimes taking their loves. Well, it is no wonder I became a catalyst for change. It is also no wonder that I have developed a relationship with Death. Although come the fuck on, it is Death, how many relationships does Death really have? Maybe it is more of a fascination, appreciation, curiosity, and understanding that I have with Death; not a relationship.
I don't know, I'm not really trying to figure it all out; after all, there really is nothing to know. Death is just a little closer to me again right now, hugging me, pointing things out, like a father showing a child what work he has left to do, and what work he has done; proudly.
When I die
when my coffin
is being taken out
you must never think
i am missing this world
don’t shed any tears
don’t lament or
i’m not falling
into a monster’s abyss
when you see
my corpse is being carried
don’t cry for my leaving
i’m not leaving
i’m arriving at eternal love
when you leave me
in the grave
don’t say goodbye
remember a grave is
only a curtain
for the paradise behind
you’ll only see me
descending into a grave
now watch me rise
how can there be an end
when the sun sets or
the moon goes down
it looks like the end
it seems like a sunset
but in reality it is a dawn
when the grave locks you up
that is when your soul is freed
have you ever seen
a seed fallen to earth
not rise with a new life
why should you doubt the rise
of a seed named human
have you ever seen
a bucket lowered into a well
coming back empty
why lament for a soul
when it can come back
like Joseph from the well
when for the last time
you close your mouth
your words and soul
will belong to the world of
no place no time.