Monday, August 20, 2007

Fade With Time

Sometimes after a long day at work (an eight hour day at an office as a secretary, cleaning houses in the evenings), my mother would come home to find my grandmother, her mother, passed out drunk at the dinner table, playing cards everywhere, the tell-tale bottle of whiskey back in the cabinet, its level considerably lower as evidenced by the black magic marker line my mother had drawn on the bottle as an attempt to figure out how much her mother drank. My crafty grandmother figured out that she could move the line around by erasing it with fingernail polish remover but sometimes she got so wasted that this little bit of espionage went out the window. Beer did not count as my grandmother often had this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner -- the oatmeal hour had become the cocktail hour. She was by and large a happy drunk, and this enabled her to forget about my grandfather. She moved in with us after he died, having endured many years of his abuse, and her face looked like a pugilist, the cauliflowered ears, the scars that did not fade with time.

My mother tried to control her, but couldn't. They fought all the time, loud fights in French that I couldn't understand. My heart broke for both of them -- my exhausted mother who tried so hard to keep everything going with her many jobs and her desperate need for the love and approval she seldom got and my broken grandmother with her tiny social security checks that she spent on alcohol and cigarettes, the only freedom she had in this word. Why can't she change? my mother would ask everyone late in the night. But true change is miraculous, road to Damascus shit, the blinding, the pull to something greater than ourselves. Although we are changing every minute, if only in our hearts, a place that nobody can see. My mother would put her mother to bed like she was a child, telling her to wake up and get moving, that it was late, even if it was only early evening and the night was a long way away.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"It's not true that life is one damn thing after another; it's one damn thing over and over." Edna St. Vincent Millay

Cocktail Hour
Drinking music suggestion: Great Days John Prine

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!


Pythia3 said...

My heart knows stories like these all too well.
Love the quote of the day - how true!

paul said...


OOC said...

Whoa, thanks for the arcana Michelle, feeling it deep in the bones.

the walking man said...

I could be I suppose your grandmother, have the scars and the penchant for alcohol, even though it's been awhile, and not one to be easily controlled.And I could be your mother wondering why nothing is ever good enough, even though it is so hard worked at?

But the truth is I am neither and neither are you, just depends on which door we walk though in that room of a thousand doors and what we do while on that pat the door opens to.



Susan Miller said...

I have often wondered what it would be like to face some of those now gone. If my years would better suit me to understand what was happening. As a child it seemed I was more of an observer taking mental notes of persons, places, things. Now I would most likely insert myself, my supposed knowledge, into the situation in some great attempt to help. But then maybe in some ways that would make me most like your mother, and I suspect a bit frustrated with those that would not listen. And then one day I would most likely wake up and say, "what the hell do I know anyway?", and it would all feel like some type of futility maybe.

Disclaimer: The above was written without coffee and simply inspired by your post.

Have a great day, Michelle.

Herman Northrop Frye said...

Luckily, Edna's abortion and suicide weren't " one damn thing over and over."