DING…DONG…the Bitch Is Dead
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Ebb and Flow.
Elizabeth, the woman who dominated my childhood is dead. The most hateful woman I have ever known in my life.
My father’s mother died this morning. She didn’t care for me even before I was born, and yes, I’ll share that story, too.
The last time I had anything to do with her, I was 18, and the first in the family to turn my back on her and her repeated hurtfulness. She did and said things to me when I was a teenager that ensured that the moment I graduated from high school, I would never have anything to do with her again, ever. Anyone else would have been arrested for the things she said to me and about me, though none of her church-going friends would have believed it.
I never refer to her as my grandmother because she wasn’t one. Never an I-love-you. Never a returned hug. Never a kind word. Not to me. The only person I’m sure she loved was her youngest son, and I once overheard her say that as far as she was concerned, she didn’t have any grandchildren except his.
How appropriate. In reading through her obituary, I’m aware that she never met my daughters or my younger brother’s son. The last time she saw my niece, who recently married, the girl was a baby and the woman was screeching to get that baby away from her (I’m paraphrasing because she wasn’t nearly as polite) while her “real” grandchildren sic’d a pit bull on me, my brother, and the baby in his arms. The last time she saw my oldest nephew, he was 4 years old…around 1976. I’m positive his children aren’t listed in among the great-grandchildren in her obituary. She never saw them, never knew about them.
The obituary refers to people who are left to cherish her memory. They need not have mentioned me among the grandchildren. I know exactly how much she cherished me, even before I was born. Relatives spoke of it in hushed whispers when I was a little girl and later more openly but out of earshot of her. They repeated the story so often that it became a standard in the family.
In the weeks before I was born in early March, when my mother was dealing with a high-risk pregnancy and was “about to pop” with me, she and my dad and two brothers lived on a farm with hogs that had to be fed every day. The livestock could be rather…mean…at feeding time. The only way to feed them was to carry heavy buckets of feed to their pen, balance on a beam and walk out over the hogs to pour out the buckets’ contents. This was clearly not a job for a woman in the last stages of pregnancy and unable to keep her balance on firm ground. Not to mention the fact that she was supposed to be in bed to keep from miscarrying again or delivering early.
My dad, brothers, and close relatives all came down with a killer flu not long before I was born. It leveled everyone in the household except my mother. That left her to carry the feed out to the hogs, risking falling and being trampled.
When someone who’d heard about my mother’s plight asked Elizabeth about sending one of her other sons over to feed the hogs so my mother wouldn’t risk losing her baby, Elizabeth refused. Even without interacting with anyone in the house, she wouldn’t help and she wouldn’t send anyone in her household to help.
“Han’ [I’ll be hanged] no! I’m not getting into that flu!”
So she has passed now at the age of 98. Seems so unfair that the only grandmother I ever knew, my mother’s mother and a kind and generous woman, died at 59 of cancer while my father’s domineering mother lived on, running on pure meanness. How sad that a lifetime of playing favorites with her kids and grandkids left her all alone in the end and with so few people left who honestly do cherish her memory. My kids are better off for not having known her, I believe, and she missed out on knowing them because I wouldn’t risk her acting toward them the way she acted toward me.
It might sound as if I’m glad she’s dead. I’m not. It’s just another chapter that’s over and done and the best I can muster is to note just that. As for feeling bad or sad, I don’t. I don’t feel anything at all for someone who never felt anything at all for me.