My mother's mother died last week. She was 86 years old and was born deep in the hills of Tennessee and died there too. She lived in Michigan while her husband worked, and she raised five kids. I would visit my grandparents when I was little and then in high school, and as an adult. I never met the grandfather that drank and beat his children. He went away once my grandfather retired and moved back to Falls Branch. I knew the grandfather that had a great laugh and always had his dog by his side and cowboy boots on his feet. My grandmother was the "disciplinarian" if you will. I did know her.
I didn't cry for her at her funeral. I don't miss her. I thought about it the entire trip down there and I couldn't think of one nice thing she said or did for me. I do remember her yelling at me to play outside, turn off the lights, get out of the kitchen, stop taking pictures, etc. She said these things to me when I was nine years old and she said these same things to me when I was 31.
She would tell you to go outside and get her a switch - a small branch from a bush - so she could whip welts into the soft flesh of your legs.
I remember she grew raspberries and I liked eating them. That's all I got.
I arrive in Tennessee on a Sunday. I find out pretty quickly that things are a mess.
My grandmother was left a good sum of money which she wasted in the 6 years since my grandfather died. Her youngest daughter helped take care of her, and signed many of the checks that sent unreasonable sums of money out the door. A great deal of it went to one of her sons, the favorite grandchild - GOLDEN BOY. By her death she was broke. Most of her children are in no better financial shape than her. You know who paid for the funeral? My 30-year-old brother. If that isn't a big ridiculous flying pile of shit, then I don't know what is. If it hadn't been him it would have been me - the next to arrive with a credit card. She has 14 grandchildren and I paid for the flowers from all of them, including the unemployed, and GOLDEN BOY himself who got thousands from her, but flat out refused to pay his $20 share of the flowers that rested upon her casket. In addition to that he once denied to me that he ever took money from her. "I got my own money." I heard you ask her for money. I was in the house. We have all now seen the copies of the checks you cashed, you leech. We know the truth.
Yes, she had the right to spend her money as she wished, but those taking advantage of her should have at least left enough to pay for her death. She could have helped others that would have appreciated it. Her other children, her other grandchildren. What remains is a house and 62 acres of land. The five children are to split 50 acres, and the remainder is to be sold along with the house, the profits split five ways. I initially wanted my mom to keep her 10 acres, and be able to revisit this place that was kind of magical to me as a kid, to bring my daughter. Now I think they should sell it all. I don't wish to return. I'd rather put all this simmering seething anger behind me, about how it all ended. All is not lost, but it should be. I will tell my daughter stories, she can build her own special memories.
There's a few other tidbits that added to the smoldering coals, like my grandmothers ring being given to my brother for his fiancee, and later someone insinuating that he shouldn't be paid back for the funeral because, "Well, he got that ring." He never asked for that ring. And my terrible mother of a sister both ignoring or being mean to her two-year-old and acting like a child herself when forced to actually feed or watch her kid. Cleaning the clutter of the house that belonged to a hoarder only to be told someone will have to sort through the garbage we bagged because, "just because I think it's trash doesn't mean someone else will." I'm sorry. I thought yesterday you were wailing about not knowing what to do about all the clutter. Good luck to you all in finalizing everything that needs to be done. I'll be trying really fucking hard to bite my tongue and look past this and forget the fact that my grandmother picked favorites and I was at the bottom of the list. The clear realization of this is still quite raw.