The other night I made pasta for supper. Now this is not an uncommon thing, I mean, I am the self professed Pasta Queen of my family. But for some reason I started bawling my eyes out! The pasta made me sad… which is illogical, and one can only blame my female hormones for it. But, I confess, the pasta made me sad because…. it reminded me of my grandmother and how much I miss her.
I’ve always been in denial about missing her, just like how I was in denial the months following her sudden illness. She needed to be cared for 24/7 and family member’s jumped in to help out. I didn’t want to help out. Looking back at my wack state of mind, back then, I realize that I could not handle seeing the strong lady, who practically raised me, lay there fragile and unable to do a thing for herself. I did not want to deal with it. And so I just did not.
I was in denial about her death. I mean, I cried the day she passed away. I cried at her funeral. And then, I cried no more. At one point, I found myself forgetting that she passed away. I locked that little bit of information in the back of mind. I refused to allow emotion into it. “Why cry?” I asked myself. She’s gone. She’s not in pain anymore. She doesn’t have to deal with the burden of life anymore.
I was in denial about being a sucky granddaughter. Man, I was a sucky granddaughter. I sucked. I could have done more. I should have done more. But I did not want to have to deal with the guilt, so I locked all of this away, in the same box I kept all the other stuff in, and shoved it into the deepest, darkest recesses of my brain.
My grandmother was like any other grandmother, but she was also different to any other grandmother I’ve ever met. I mean, she did all the grandmotherly things like bake biscuits and buy us underwear for our birthday but she was also different in that she grew up having to be tough, strong and independent. So that’s the way she was all the time. She came from an era where showing emotion was frowned upon. But she showed loved in other ways. We grew up living in her house and she did everything for us. Cooked, cleaned, washed windows – stuff you probably pay your domestic to do for you. She could come across as callous, but she was a proud, hardworking, selfless woman who gave all that she had for her kids and grandkids.
There is so much history, so many reasons, why I could be stirring my pasta pot and crying about my grandmother. But the image that moved me to tears was the sudden memory of my grandma’s face, after her sister had passed away. When they declared her dead, the look of anguish on my grandma’s face was so deeply sad, that it shocked me. It shocked me because I had never seen her put on anything other than “strong woman”. She stood there, her grief on display, sobbing out her sisters name as the tears rolled down her face. And then she saw me staring at her. Our eyes locked…. and she immediately pulled herself together. She was “strong woman” once again. The moment was gone. If I had blinked, I would have missed it.
So that night while cooking pasta, I suddenly remembered that bittersweet moment, where my grandmother – the woman who shaped me – allowed herself to take off the mask and mourn openly and I realized that in my whole life, those were realest few seconds I had ever shared with her. And it made me cry.