Grandma getting her hair did three days after her diagnosis
We heard those terrible, dreadful words- “you have cancer”- on Tuesday.
My grandmother, my stoic, indestructible grandmother, was diagnosed with lung cancer.
They found it by accident. She had fallen and wanted to see if she fractured her rib. A small shadow on her lung made itself known on an X-ray, and then a CAT scan. The doctor in the ER wasn’t sure what the small shadow was, so he recommended that she see an oncologist.
Half of me thought it was impossible- ridiculous– that Grandma could have cancer. The other half knew for certain that she had cancer, but it was still small. She was asymptomatic, minus the general fatigue she felt as an 88-year-old woman with arthritis.
I arrived home for the holidays just in time for Grandma to see the oncologist, who ordered a biopsy. At the hospital, my grandma, mom and I made each other laugh. We were nervous, and the laughter felt good. Grandma was not (more…)
This is my grandmother.
She is one of my favorite people.
I come from a very small family.
There are only four of us.
My mother, my father, my grandmother and I.
Dad left when I was seven, and my grandmother, who still lives across the street from my mother, helped raise me.
I grew up in the clothing store she owned for 35 years and spent my childhood thinking she was the most beautiful woman in the world.
She still is, but she’ll tell you she’s not.
“Beauty is for young people,” she says.
I try to tell her that her logic is faulted; I tell her that beauty can be any age, any woman, any soul.
But she won’t hear of it.
I never thought that the day would come when this determined, stubborn, busy-bee-of-woman would get old.
But she did.
And she hates it.
Aches and pains make it difficult for her to walk for long stretches of time.
She gets exhausted easily.
She spends many of her days inside her house, losing track of what day it is and missing (more…)
I wrote this last month while visiting home. It was a difficult one to write. Did a lot of reflecting…
As the plane descended over the familiar lush landscape that is my hometown, several emotions reacquainted themselves with me. Feelings of joy, sadness, fear and optimism alternated dance steps in my brain.
“Where has all the time gone?”
“What will the future hold?”
“What happened to all the people I loved who have passed?”
“How can I keep moving forward?”
These are questions I don’t ask myself anymore. They’re only questions raised when provoked by the sight of my past, which is something that happens irregularly since I moved away from my home and family eight years ago.
In our attempt to live a fulfilling adult life, it’s often easy to get caught up in the minutia and forget what you’re thinking, feeling. To forget where you came from.
This last trip home wouldn’t let me walk past the flowers without perking my senses.
I was picked up by my beautiful and cheerful (more…)
As I get older, trips home vary in emotion. When I travel back to Central New York in the winter, I join the legions of individuals who feel depressed and forlorn. My hometown feels as though it has been forgotten- which it has, in a way. However, during the summer, the area feels alive and thriving and downright gorgeous- which it is. I’ve lived in or traveled through nearly two thirds of this country and there is no place quite like the American Northeast in the summer and fall. Nothing compares to the rolling green hills, the soft grass and the luscious wildflowers.
This trip I have reconnected with old friends and seen extended family. This might not sound like anything particularly special, but considering I come from a small family and am not always best at keeping in touch with people, this has been a very therapeutic and enjoyable experience. I’ve also gotten to lay in the grass while staring at the sky, paint my grandmother’s toe nails, take naps next to my favorite little Jack (more…)
I have a lot of stuff I want to write, but I’m on vacation, I’m sick and I’m grumpy.
I’m trying to stay away from the comp, but it’s hard.
In lieu of writing, here are some pics from my trip. Hope to get back up and writing this weekend.
Have a nice weekend y’all!
Nothing like New York in June
Grandma visiting Lionel in his new assisted living home. They miss each other.
Lionel holding a picture of his younger self so he can remember his life.
Little Miss Lucy
Working on some SXSW stuff for the blog today, but in the meantime, I wanted to share this photo of my grandmother as a teenager.
Right now it sits on my desktop and every hour or so, I pull it up to take a look at it. She’s so young, so happy.
My grandmother is 85 years old and her partner is in the hospital. His Alzheimer’s is starting to take over.
When I talked to my grandmother yesterday, she spoke like a woman who has nothing to look forward to. When I told her she should move to a warmer climate, she balked, “I’m at the end of my life.” When I told her that she should go out and spend time with friends, she said, “They’re all dead.” When I asked her if she will continue seeing Lionel every day at the hospital, she stated, “Yes, until one day he will forget me.”
Needless to say, it was the most uplifting conversation I’ve had in a long time.
Looking at this picture also makes me cry.
I wonder if this young woman fulfilled all her dreams.
My grandmother is the most fashionable lady I know. To this day, through all the aches and pains, she still makes sure to be completely polished and presentable. She owned a woman’s clothing store for 35 years so she is no stranger to women’s fashion. Her closet and basement is filled with wonderful articles from the past the six decades. Her house is equally stylized, almost museum-like. While I was home I took the liberty to shoot some photos of her home and of her. She will be 85 years old at the end of November. She speaks about how she is disgusted with herself: how she could let her body get old? She feels ugly. I wish I could make her not feel this way. How can she not see how beautiful she is? If only we could all look this good at 85. As for her secret? This woman eats like a bird, worries so much she barely sleeps and smoked for many years. She uses cold cream to remove her foundation and Vaseline to remove her eye make-up. I’m guessing it’s just good Eastern European genes.
Visiting home is always…always…
I’m not sure what the word is.
Every time I visit home I feel different. Like the arm of a clock on a different time. When I was 22, I was 3AM, when I was 25, I was 4PM and now the clock rests on noon.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve mellowed out. Initially their dutiful daughter who always did what she was told suddenly did not like it. She snapped back. She was trying to figure out who she was and the last thing she needed was someone infringing on her time alone in her head.
Now, now she knows who she is. Now she doesn’t have a guttural reaction when one of them does nothing more than simply be the overly-concerned mother or grandmother that they are.
But coming home brings a new emotion. It’s no longer youthful angst, but rather seeing something I don’t want to see.
Something I’ll pretend is not happening.
As I hung in the doorway of my grandmother’s bedroom watching her get ready to go out, I noticed how small she looked. The weight (more…)
Just want to send a quick message and THANK YOU because….MY GRANDMA WON THE GOOD MAGAZINE PEOPLE TO ADMIRE CONTEST! I am so f’ing excited. So is my grandma. When I called her she squealed like a little girl! Then she proceeded to tell me that she’s been mailing with a psychic and the psychic told her she was going to become a millionaire. Then I was like “What the fuck…?”
Anyways, she’s super stoked and I’m so tickled that she’s going to be featured in a national magazine! That woman deserves it. She’s such a classy and beautiful lady who has worked hard her entire life. I used to dream of making it big in Hollywood solely because I wanted to treat her (and my mom) to all the finer things in the world.
Thank you so so so much again for all who supported. You seriously have no idea how much this means to me.
You can read more about the post HERE.
If you don’t read Good Magazine, you should. It’s one of the best magazines out there.
Grandma and Lionel ate Burger King kids meals tonight. They bought Lucy the Jack Russell Terrier one too.
“I don’t cook anymore because Lionel can’t chew!” Grandma explains to me.
“I thought he just got new teeth, Grandma?”
“Yeahhh, but they hurt. They don’t fit him right.”
She had already changed the subject three times. Grandma didn’t want to talk about the elephant in the room.
I don’t even particularly want to write about it.
“What did Lionel’s son say, Grandma?”
A pause, then my grandmother’s familiar shielded acknowledgement and dismissal of my question due to Lionel’s close proximity to her.
“Mom said he wants to put Lionel in a home?” I ask quietly.
I hear Lionel’s booming voice in the background, asking for mock help as Lucy tongue whips his face.
“Hold on a second,” my grandma says as I hear her small footsteps walk towards the bedroom.
She gets really quiet. “They want to put him in Walden Oaks. We went over there today to take a look, ” her (more…)