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Fourth Time's A Charm by Ray Printer Friendly

I just now got brave enough to post this. I've almost posted it three times before. Each time, I write a little intro for it. Then I read over it, delete everything, and save the file.

Reading over it, I don't understand why I always made it into such a big deal. I mean, I do...but I don't. Maybe that's all bravery is, is being confused about what you should be scared of (4th time).

Been trying to get this out there forever (wrote it over a year ago), but it always felt wrong. Or, as Iím fond of sayingóit pissed off my heart. Itís a downer, but you have the weekend to recover (3rd time).

Note from Ray: I wrote this something like a month ago. It seemed like something I should put on the site, but there was a part of me that held backóI donít know why.

Maybe because itís personal, maybe because I didnít want to offend anyone who thought it would be an insult to my grandmother to put something like this on a website like this. But Iíve decided it belongs here. The kind of people that would get offended, they arenít around here, anyways (2nd time).

1st time:

I was very close to my grandmother when I was younger. In her final years, she had Alzheimerís disease, and there was no way for me to be very close to her because she didnít know who I was. Iím a scary-looking bastard, for the most part, and I generally kept my distance, so as to not terrify her. I think it was the best thing to do, but I always felt like a traitor. Anyways, this is for her, and for me. Itís not for anyone else, so if youíre put out by it, thatís your problem.


Tell me where it hurtsÖ

I just got back from a funeral, kind of. I got back late last night, after driving what felt like halfway across the planet. So, no, I didnít just get back, I suppose. Today passed in a flurry of whatever, the same boring shit thatís always going on, but I felt like I was just a step or two behind, all day.

The sun was down before I was ready, and I spent the night entertaining myself by trying to work out some sort of sound system for my apartment. What I ended up with was a strange mixture of components that sort of looks like a crippled robot with a growth problem. I spent some time drinking without reason, just doing it because there was some booze sitting there.

Tried to write, because thatís what I do, but it didnít work out so well. Watched various parts of several movies, in random order, just to see if it would form some sort of coherent plot-line. It didnít.

And then I somehow ended up sitting here in the dark; my princess has gone to bed for the night, and the house is quiet and lonely. I thought about waking her up, because Iím sad and dark-feeling, but I donít want to pull her into this kind of scene, if you can dig it. Nobody can make me feel better when Iím like thisóI just get aggravated with them for trying. So itís better to let her sleep, and hope that sheís having the sweetest dreams.

As for me, I watch the shadows with distrust, and a rotten grin. I hurt inside, and I canít tell the difference between sobs and laughter as I think about my grandmother. Iím listening to a depressing song over and over again, which Iíve always maintained was completely stupid. I canít help it, I guess. It reminds me of my Gramma. Gram, we always called her.

She had this smile. It was a wonderful grandmotherly smile. Thatís what it looked like to me, anyways. I donít know what it looked like to other people. Did it look motherly to my mother? Did it look lovely to my grandfather? She touched so many people. Not a grand impact, maybe, but so what? She was there, changing the world for us, changing our world.

Sheís gone now, in case you couldnít figure that out. It was her funeral I got back from. I spent most of my time there just hanging about, maybe in case someone needed a shoulder to cry on, I donít know. I spent a lot of time thinking about how I should feel.

I didnít feel like crying, if you want to know the truth. I felt a little out of place, but thatís nothing newóI always feel at least a little out of place. I felt sad, but it was a displaced kind of sadness. At the funeral, I ended up sitting right in front of a picture that they had of Gram, it was placed right above this big display of roses. I just stared at it, trying to connect the person in the photo to the person we were all there to mourn. I couldnít do it, which was why I wasnít so sad at the funeral.

Then we got into our cars and drove out to the cemetery. And my nephew, Ethan, heís sitting there in the back seat, asking me who my Gammy was. Gammy is what he calls his grandmother. My mother. What does her smile look like to him, I wonder? I try to tell him about my Gram, and I canít really do it, because my voice wonít let me, and what a way to traumatize a kid by bursting into tears when he asks about your grandmother.

I ask him, ďDid you see that picture of that woman? The one right above all those roses?Ē And when he nods his head that, yeah, he saw the picture, I tell him, ďThat was my Gammy.Ē And you know what? My stupid voice felt like cracking when I even tried to get out that little bit of conversation.

But now I have words, and they arenít all screwed up with my stupid voice, and they arenít all messed up because what will people think, or will this sound right, or how am I supposed feel, what am I supposed to feel.

Because me and words, we have an understanding. No fucking around, no trying to be cool. I let them out, and they let me out. Itís a deal, and nobody gets to slink away, nobody gets to watch out.

My Gammy wasnít even a Gammy, Ethan, believe it or not. She was a Gramma sometimes, but usually she was a Gram. She would let you drink coffee with your bacon and toast in the morning, but she always put so much milk and sugar in it that it could hardly be called coffee. If you couldnít sleep, she would scratch your back until you could, and if that didnít work, she would coerce you into talking until you wore yourself out. She was always proud of you, no matter how mundane of a feat it was that you had accomplished. She was always so happy to see you that if it had been anybody else, you would have thought they were faking it.

She would let you go upstairs and explore whatever you wanted, just be careful. She had some secret kind of recipe for meatloaf that made it better than getting a Happy Meal from McDonaldís. And she would buy your favorite kind of cereal right before you came to visit.

She used to put our ice cream into this big metal bowl, and blend it up until it was super-soft, and then she would just watch us eat it, and she would smile.

She was a lot of things. I canít spend all night trying to get my point across, I guess. She was amazing, she was wonderful, she was my Gram. I donít know who she was to the rest of the people at the funeral, but thatís who she was to me.

One thing I know for sure, though, is that she was not just that lady in the picture above the roses.

Maybe the best time to feel like crying is when thereís nobody around to know if you did it or not.

Tell me where it hurtsÖ

Entered By James From Austin
2009-10-09 04:39:17

That's great Ray. I know why you did not want to put in on the site, but let me tell you man, it belongs here. The best of your writing is intensely sincere heartfelt real gritty stuff -- sometimes it is raunchy and degenerate, but that's just the conditionals -- the essence of what you write is just like this piece right here -- it is not only an honest attempt to deal with Life but a poignent and powerful attempt.

Entered By Ray From Austin
2009-10-09 05:13:23

Thanks, man. We'll see if it's still here in the morning.

Entered By Charlie From Unknown
2009-10-09 05:37:29

Yeah...I think I needed this, too. Two of my best friends were my Gram and my mother-in-law, and I lost 'em both. And it still hurts, and confuses me, and makes me mad. What are we supposed to feel? I dunno, but if you felt like this, and I did, too, then it makes me think we both felt the way we were supposed to.

Entered By One of the Many Kimberlys From Unknown
2009-10-09 12:18:42

I am glad that you wrote this, and gladder still that I had a chance to read it, especially when the house was quiet and no one to see the tears on my face. I lost my grandfather a little over a week ago, just hours after I lost my dog (sounds like a bad country song, eh), and my grandmother, who also had Alzheimer's, passed away on my birthday last December. Those losses alone, individually, are difficult enough, much less lumped together in too short a time to process. You have managed to capture here all of that hurt, pain, love, memory, and more... Your writing has always touched me; reading James and Charlie's comments cements that. You are a writer, Ray, and through your words, you honor your Gram. Thank you for sharing her with us.

Entered By Leslie From Texas
2009-10-09 16:58:14

I always wished I had told Gram how wonderful she was before she died, and you managed to sum up perfectly the things about her I loved, right down to the Cap'n Crunch cereal she had in the kitchen cabinet every time we came to visit. Amazing and beautiful post, Ray. SO glad you shared it. She was a kind and beautiful person and it still pisses me off that she was stolen from us too early and in such a terrible way. I sometimes find myself staring at women I see who remind me of her, who are an age she would be now, wondering at the unfairness of it all. Remember that Christmas we arrived without prior notice, and since she hadn't really put up a tree she decorated one of her houseplants for us? And how instead of the regular Christmas gifts one year, she gave you an entire box of grapefruit, since she remembered how well you liked it for breakfast? She was truly awesome, and I often wish I had been at this point in my life when she lived here nearly a decade ago. Instead of working full-time at the newspaper office, I'd have the printing business at home, and she could have come over and spent the days with us instead of sitting in the nursing home. The boys would have had a wonderful time with her -- she'd know all the Star Wars characters by heart and I bet she would have been a wicked PS3 player. Miss you, Gram...

Entered By HomeTown Girl From Canadian
2009-10-09 22:39:11

Ray, I'm glad you posted that.Your gram was awesome.She was a very nice lady.Even in the end I loved her to death.I use to take her roses up to the nursing home after we broke up.You probably never new that, but I loved her!She deserved this post and then sum!!Kudos my friend

Entered By Mom From Lipscomb Co. S.O.
2009-10-10 07:32:48

It's 2:15 in the morning and I just read your post. It's okay to let tears run down my face when all the prisoners are asleep and the 911 line is quiet. . . She loved you so much. Ray, Les, I'm so glad you remember. She always met us at the door with arms wide open, and let you kids sleep with her until three was just crowding her clear out of bed. Then she set up the army cot beside her bed for the oldest or most sacrificing. She knew before I did that you loved Cap'n Crunch cereal. Thank you so much for the post, Ray. When she died, my cousin Cherie wrote about her, "She was the best of us."

Entered By Dean From Allison Tx
2009-10-12 20:23:53

I know how ya feel. It was a year since you wrote it but the day and memory will always stay. Thats a good thing though. She is a special person you will never forget and will most likely try to emulate when you have Grandchildren. I know how ya feel, I have a Grandparent who for no reason at all will just pop into my head. No doubt, he pops into my head because I know his life is so worth saving in my delapidated getting older memory. You know why I know my life is worth something and special, cause Im the Grandson of someone so special. As you are and your grandmother.

Entered By Uncle Kelly From KC, MO
2009-10-14 23:20:40

Hey Ray....what a great post. I'm so glad to know you and Les have kept such precious memories of who, I feel, was the most wonderful lady in the world. She was an amazing Mom and an amazing Gram. I sometimes shudder to think what I might have turned out like if it wasn't for her. I count the days until I get to see her again. (Boy, I'm glad it's 6pm at night and no one can see what a mess I am). Love you!

Entered By Karen From Indiana
2009-10-16 04:21:35

What the hell? You can't write about your grandma? Snap out of that, whatever it is. Grandparents are universally appreciated, for the most part (leaving room for the random grandparent that sucked - there must be some.) I brushed my grandmother's hair a few months before she died and after she'd lost the ability to speak. One of the best moments of my life, ever. I'll never forget it. And we called her Grammy. Glad you got one of the great ones - it certainly sounds like you did.

Entered By Diane From NH
2009-10-17 22:21:59

Awesome stuff. Losing a person close to you is wicked. Terrible. Awful. Sad. And every loss leaves a tiny bit of open wound for the next loss to crack open anew. Counting the people loved and lost in your life can be bittersweet -- thank GOD you knew them...why take them away?... Maybe that feeling of loss makes us appreciate the ones still with us, accept them with all their faults, stay in touch with ones we might let fall by the wayside... Kudos to you for posting your heart.

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