Monday, June 05, 2006
El Road Trip: Recap
Well, we got home last night at about nine o'clock and poured into our house and collapsed.
What a trip.
My daughters have only ever been to Dallas three times in their short lives.
My cousin and I, both having been teen moms, had a long talk about this Saturday. The fact is, after you so phenomenally fuck up at the age of fifteen, you aren't likely to want to come and brag about it to all of those who know you best.
I told her that I couldn't bring my girls up there until I felt like I was doing good, until I was proud of where I was in life.
Amanda was three when that finally happened.

We arrived Thursday at 8:45pm. Which was exactly six hours and twenty five minutes after we had pulled out of my driveway in the pouring rain. After the initial hugs and the first of at least forty five million times that I heard "I can't believe how big they are!" we carried the luggage into our room (aka: The Rose Room).
The girls settled in to watch Chicken Little with Ruthie and my mother, my Aunt and I sat down at the kitchen table to have a Talk.
Now, last year, when I went to get Veronique's things from her apartment, my uncle came and picked Ruthie and I up and took us to lunch. Afterwards, he took us to see my grandmother in the Nursing Home. I hadn't seen my grandmother in a few years so the reality of how much her health had deteriorated hadn't really sank in yet and I had never set foot in a Nursing Home before. Mix that with the fact that I had just packed up everything my best friend owned and loaded it into a U-Haul to take to her parents and, well it was not a fun experience.
I remember walking into The Nursing Home and immediately hoping that my grandmother had somehow secured the "penthouse" or something because surely she didn't live like these other people.
And then we walked into her room and I was slapped, hard, with the reality that she did.
She was just as frail and her body was giving out just as theirs were.
This is especially difficult for me because my grandmother, up until a few years ago, was this fiery redhead who didn't take shit from anyone and who never actually had to knock the shit out of me because she had instilled such a fear and absolute respect in me that I wouldn't have crossed her. I even went so far as to lock myself in a bedroom once for three hours because I had somehow pissed her off and waiting for my mother to come home was less scary than opening that door to her. She was the one I always said "yes ma'am" to, even if it was only in response to "have you brushed your teeth baby?" And she was the first one to call me when I was in hiding at fifteen, thoroughly knocked up and ask me "are you pregnant baby?"
And now she was laying helpless in a bed.
All of her energy and spunk and tell it like it is was trapped in this frail body.
You see, she hasn't lost the ability to be herself, she is still in there. Her body just can't hold her up any more and her eyes can't see and that bright red hair has faded to gray.
When I saw her laying there last year it took all I had not to burst into tears. Instead, I held her hand and talked to her and told her how I was just as I would have if we had been on opposite side of a coffee table smoking cigarettes and bitching about the heat.
And when I left, I held my head up and keep my tears in.
Because she doesn't want my pity.
That was last year.
This year, it is worse.
She has been in and out of hospitals all year and she decided right before my arrival with the girls that she was done. So Thursday night as I sat down with two of my grandmother's three daughters, I heard The News. The News that everyone in my family would be hearing sometime over the weekend.
She is done.
She doesn't want to go to the hospital anymore, she doesn't want new drugs... She doesn't want to prolong her current life.
Your first instinct is to be pissed. You want to march in there and tell her no, damnit, you are not going to just give up. There's physical therapy and surgery for your eyes and drugs. There are ways to make you live longer.
But how do you walk into an eighty one year old woman's room in a Nursing Home and tell her, as you hold her bony hand, that she has to live for you. How do you do that?
She is eighty one. You can ignore the fact that she is more than three times your age and that she has lived through things you've never experienced, you can ignore the fact that she has raised four children and has eight grandchildren, fourteen great grandchildren and one great, great grandchild. What you cannot ignore is the fact that she is eighty one and has her wits about her and by golly, if she is done with this life and ready to leave it behind then that is exactly what she has the right to do.
But as I laid there Thursday night, I couldn't quite wrap my head around all of this.
It makes sense and yet no sense at all.
I told my girls that this would probably be the last time that they ever saw their great grandmother and we took all the appropriate pictures... but can you somehow come to grips with the fact that the woman who is laying on the sofa holding your hand and telling you the story of how her great grandfather moved here from Italy back before "the war" and changed his name from Rodgelio to just Rodge, is going to die in the next few months because while her mind is there, her body isn't cooperating.
So maybe I spent the weekend in denial... maybe I am still in denial, but I can't seem to face that fact. This woman has been the only grandparent I have ever had. Both my father's parents passed before I was born and my grandfather died when I was four.
And I love her.
Friday we went to see her in The Nursing Home and she shooed us out after an hour and said we "had better things to be doing" while we were there than "hanging out in this place."
Saturday all The Relatives flocked to my Aunt's house for the big birthday party. I have cousins who haven't been there in ten years that set the family feuds aside to come and pay their "respects" to my grandmother for possibly the last time.
It was this amazing mixture of wonderful reunions mixed with bittersweet goodbyes. I met children who have been born since my last trip and kissed their heads and cheeks and watched others do the same with my girls. I heard more than once about how I had "marked" the oldest and youngest of my daughters. I got caught up with lives and loves and jobs and families and friends, I heard about grades and sports and spare time, and I got picked up and swirled around by the particularly tall of my family members who I hadn't seen on the last visit and I shared tears with those of us who will not handle the passing of our main matriarch so well.
As Saturday evening came and The Relatives started to leave, the goodbyes were laced with the impending truth that they would all be seeing me again soon. Because while none of us said it outloud, we all know that in the coming months we will all be making the same trip to my Aunts house to say the final goodbye to my grandmother.
A few stragglers hung around after the main crowd had burned off.
It was then that Naki called me and said she was on her way.
In all the emotional wave riding I had been doing, it had somehow slipped my mind that she was even coming. She arrived about thirty minutes later and stayed for a few hours playing catchup with me on the porch. We drank margaritas and talked about life. And I invited her to come down to the coast with the girls and I on our HUGE beach trip coming up the last weekend of July which she said she'd really love to go on. So, my fingers are crossed that she will join us.
I have to admit I was a little nervous that our reunion might be awkward but it was everything but. She was so very cool and just hung out and shot the shit with us without seeming to feel like it was weird at all.
At about nine o'clock pm, I loaded the sister and the girls into the Focus and drove thirty minutes to my cousin's house so
our daughters could have a sleepover. I felt bad because I know that Ruthie and my cousin and my cousin's friend all kind of wanted to pull the whole older chic sleep over thing (which was tempting since Cousin has some cool shit to play with, like her own tanning bed!!) but I was pooped. I took Trin to the guestroom and passed smooth out.
We got up the next day and let the girls swim for awhile before heading back to my Aunt's for the final goodbyes before hitting the road.
We got home last night at almost nine and hit the hay after I set the pc up to upload the pics (which are here). I have many thoughts still bouncing around waiting to take form but for now, consider yourselves updated :)

It is good to be home.
so eloquently put by katehopeeden at 11:04 AM
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