My grandmother died today. Not my Auntie Nora/Auntie Gram. If that had happened, I wouldn’t be typing this right now because I’d be a complete mess. The only emotion I’m really feeling right now is guilt.
This was my dad’s mother. He and my grandmother hadn’t spoken for over 30 years because some pretty horrible things went down between them. I don’t know much about her, except that it’s pretty much confirmed by everyone in the family that she was an awful woman. I feel bad saying that because she just passed and she deserves to rest in peace, but that’s the truth and the unfortunate legacy she’s left behind.
In college, I decided that I wanted to meet and try to get to know the grandmother I never knew. I’m not exactly sure why I wanted to do that, but I guess I just felt a need for it. I didn’t tell anyone – most especially my grandmother Nora or my father. I met her a few times and she seemed fairly normal and sweet to me. After a few months, my father found out I had been talking to her, and I felt enormously guilty, and starting pulling away. My father never discouraged me from speaking to her, and he never made me feel guilty, I just did. She and I never had a really close relationship, and she moved quite a bit and wasn’t great about keeping in touch either, so the relationship just faded away.
I found out last week that she was very ill with pneumonia and that she didn’t have long to live. I took Aunt Evie up to see her, and I went so that I could say my final goodbyes. Even still, I feel guilty. I’m not exactly sure why, but I do. And I’m sad, but not because she’s gone. I’m sad more that my father never got to have a loving relationship with his mother, and that there wasn’t room for reconciliation in the end. She didn’t ask for forgiveness, and I’m not sure she even wanted it.
Still, I think there’s something positive in all of us, and for the few moments within her life that I spent with her, she was kind and cheerful. I hope she rests peacefully now. Goodbye, Florence.