Tuesday July 3. 2001
i could write volumes
I went to visit my grandparents today.
The drive up was fairly pleasant. I kind of zoned out, lost in my thoughts, and barely remember most of the drive. I only came to as I was driving up Slabbas Hill. I looked to my right, down the railroad tracks. Those tracks run right past Bank Street, the little dead end street behind St. Peter and Paul's Catholic Church where my great-grandparents used to live before they died. I can close my eyes and remember every detail of that house and yard and street with perfect crystal clarity. I could write volumes of the memories I have. Someday I will.
I arrived at around 1 o'clock, and walked across the long yard to the back door. Carefully taped to the glass storm door was a child's drawing of a sun, car and trees. I squinted at the name in the corner and recognized the handwriting of my 7 year old cousin.
I let myself in, and found both of them in the front room, which is now their bedroom, since my Pop-Pop can't go up stairs anymore. Grammy was watching her "soapies". I could smell a roast cooking, and soon Grammy and I were off to the grocery store to buy some salad for dinner.
My grandmother and mother are a mirror of each other in so many ways. One way that they are alike is that they both worry I don't eat right. My grandmother insisted on buying me some food, even though Mom had helped me stock up only last week. So I picked up some things I had forgotten - curry couscous, crunchy peanut butter, hummus ("What in the world is hummus?" she asked) and a half pound of hard salami.
I have a thing for hard salami. I pratically inhaled it when I was a child. I would eat two or three sandwiches a day. I would make "salami treats" - which was a piece of rolled up salami with a squirt of yellow mustard inside. I would literally go through a pound of salami at a time. I know it's horrifically bad for you. I'm not even sure what's in salami. I don't think I want to know.
See, I had great eating habits even then.
Grammy was peeling potatoes. I was standing around trying to be useful.
"So, your mom's not doing too well."
"No. She can't sleep. And she's really stressed out. She hated those pictures I took of her. She said she looked so tired."
"Well, I was like that at that age. I couldn't sleep, I stayed up all night crying. It's just not a good time." She sighed, and looked out the window as she was peeling. "And I thought I was all done, but I keep getting hot flashes, even now."
I lapsed into silence, thinking. They seem to have carried this legacy of depression and stress through the generations. I wonder if I asked I would find out that my great-grandmother, Nana, had something similar. I wonder if I will be powerless to stop the same thing from happening to me when I go through menopause and after. Part of me says, "No, this will not happen to you, you won't let it, times are different, you've chosen a different path", but another part says, "You can't escape genetics."
My mom reads what I write here, and she told me that she thinks I am taking on too much of her and Dad's problems. She said I don't own the problems, and shouldn't try to fix them. Intellectually, I agree. That makes perfect sense. But there is still some part of me that just wants to reach out and try to heal everything in her, to make it all better.
After dinner, Grammy and I braved the musty concrete basement to extract the table frame that I wanted to use for my mosaic table. It was made by Uncle Chester, Grammy said. It was very sturdy, and had no top, and looked strong enough to hold up a heavy top with ceramic tiles on it. While we were down there, we looked through various tools of Pop-Pop's. TONS of files, boxes and boxes of nuts, bolts and screws, and a half dozen small metal toolboxes strewn about. Grammy showed me a clock that Pop had been making out of welded metal that he had never finished. I keep forgetting, I have such a legacy of creativity on my mom's side of the family.
My great-grandfather was an amazing craftsman. There are things all over Grammy's and our house made by him. Intricate wooden decorations made with a jigsaw. Small windmills made of beer cans that hung from trees and spun in the slightest wind. I really think it was because of him that my mother decided she wanted to be an artist. He died a couple years before I was born. I wish I could've known him. No doubt we would've had a lot to talk about.
Along with the table frame, I took home a wok. Yes, a wok. Grammy just had one hanging around and since I like stir fry, I took it home with me. There's a vote for my budding domesticity.
"Come back soon. It's been so long since we've seen you." Grammy hugged me tightly. It was true, it had been a long time - more than a year. All the days I've wasted this summer sitting in front of the TV, sitting in front of the computer, sleeping the day away. I could've used them better. I feeling like I'm wasting time. Time keeps passing. Too quickly.
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One Year Ago:
"I went on lots of subways. Did I mention I love subways?"