Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee
I was thinking about the past, to a time when I last saw some of my ‘family’. Family on my father’s side…. I had been battling my own illness, been through two major surgeries, chemotherapy. I think back to the treatment I received from them.
The mass was on the outside of my lung, resting on my heart… closing off my bronchial tube. This went on until finally… I was diagnosed. At first, no one knew… until after many tests… I was dying. I could barely walk… I had entered the dark world.
I didn’t know anything, but… somehow, managed to walk on my own. That fighting spirit…. I spoke from the darkness I was in… Skip would talk to me, I couldn’t see him. I thought I ate, said I’d eaten… never knowing I hadn’t eaten anything.
Something wonderful happened… I didn’t know it. I’d lost probably 50 lbs. in a short time. I never knew it… nor got to appreciate it. Too sick. You know I’d been happy about that… if I had ‘known’. :)))
I don’t know of a lot of people who can look ‘beautiful’ when they are battling death to live life. Do you? Chemotherapy takes a lot out of a person…. side effects last for years, even to the day one dies. I know.
Your body is beaten down… you keep struggling to ‘get back up’ each time. You are knocked back down by death… to see if you have a fighting spirit to get back up. It happens time after time… until you become stronger, better.
And… if people are added to your battle… to make it worse… if you survive all that… you have become stronger. Oh, God… I made it… that was such a journey.
After surgeries that take your physical strength away… chemotherapy finishes up the job… you are lucky you can even walk… much less do what I did. I drove for two hours to go to my Grandmother Lola’s funeral. I was in a ‘bad’ way when I got there.
I just stopped for a moment to think about that. Skip wasn’t able to travel with me that day… he was on a trip.
I was all alone, not used to going out by myself. It’s strange… no one there at my ‘family’s gathering’… seemed to notice, care. Of course, ‘me being me’… I never complained. I never shared often how I was feeling, especially when I was ‘at my weakest’. I knew people treated ‘weak people’ bad…
It’s taken all these years until this very moment… to realize that. Not one person mentioned my illness, nor was glad to see me better. It was like they… didn’t know, or… acknowledge it. Whereas, I’d run, not walked… to their side to be there for them. To make sure they were okay, after ‘knowing’ they were fortunate to be alive.
I would have kept sensing them… to ‘try to feel’ if they were alright. I would have been… kind. I would have been … protective. It’s ‘my nature’ to be like that… I don’t care who, or how someone looks… I will protect … if possible.
No one cared… no one cared. I sit here in amazement… as I see all of them in my mind’s eye. I look at ‘each one of them’… I smile a sad smile now. But… I just thought of something else… ‘it’s my fault’.
Yes… it’s my fault… ‘I didn’t tell them I was so sick, the trip had been hard on me’… that day. I didn’t tell anyone that I was worried about driving 2 hours on the busy interstate, to get back home after the funeral. I didn’t tell them I was afraid. There wasn’t any one person, I could have asked for help from.
I know ‘several of you’ who were there that day… are reading my life stories. I remember ‘you, and you… and you… and you’….. and how you treated me at the most worst time in my life. You know that saying…. something about … ‘I wouldn’t care if you were dying’… well, ‘you all’ taught me the true meaning of that saying. Thank-you.
I really mean that… it just added to the things that ‘I know how they feel’… ‘I’ve been there, done that’, sort of thing. The good thing is… I don’t hate you, and you, and ‘you’ who are reading this ‘now’. I honestly don’t.
You thought I was a ‘goner’, and I’d never live to remember it. I do remember… but, I don’t have hard feelings toward you. I would never say, ‘do you remember when’? I wouldn’t have to, because… of course, you do.
You may just find out how it feels from your ‘families’ when you become weak in your older life… I do believe in people knowing how it feels to be treated the way they treat people, especially at a time that person’s fought to live, and that person loved you, was glad to see you… you turned your back on them.
And… laughed, made fun of them? Because …of how they looked? That’s ‘why’…. Camie, the little puppy I rescued… was ‘thrown away’… that’s why she was ‘left to die’… she didn’t look good enough, she was too sick. I didn’t turn my back on her… I gathered her up in my arms… I didn’t know what I was going to do to save her… but, she ‘damn-well’ wasn’t going to die alone. I cared.
I promise that I remember probably every person who hurt me when they saw me… turned away, ran the opposite way…. when I was struggling, battling to live. I wouldn’t have ever run away from any of you… I would have come to you, let you know I cared, and was glad to see ‘you’.
I have to say that one older man that I always loved, respected through the years… shocked me when I was so sick… we were in the supermarket. He didn’t see Skip… I’d turned the corner… when he saw me, he began talking fast… I couldn’t understand him… he turned away, almost ran to get away.
There’s nothing stranger to see than, someone ‘acting completely out of character’. I stood there … stunned. What did he say? I feel pain… he ran away. It hurt me so much that I had to hold onto myself… when Skip came up, he asked me if I was okay. I told him I was just very weak… I couldn’t tell him. I was so embarrassed to be treated that way by someone we both liked, respected. I really felt… awful.
A couple years later, we learned that the older man had cancer… and he… died. I felt sad for him. I really liked him, I had always thought he liked me, too. Isn’t it ironic?
Same for the treacheous step-mother I told you about in a previous story… she had cancer… died within a couple of years after she did wrong. Isn’t it ironic?
I could name ‘more’ who had cancer… have died, since I was battling to live from my condition… and from how I was treated by … them. I cared for them; I loved them… if I had known, or seen them… I would have ran toward them. They wouldn’t have died being hurt by me… I would have.
Skip made me go with him to the supermarket, and places when I didn’t want people to see me… I was so sick. I had never been out in the public looking like I did. I had never seen myself look the way I did, when I looked in the mirror. I had always been dressed very nice, every hair in place… and ready to go anywhere. Looking the way I did… I lost every bit of pride I’d ever had.
You see, I did have a beautiful head of hair, long and curly. I loved my hair… I took pride in my big head of hair. I lost it to the chemotherapy medicines to save my life. I had to wear a wig, adding to the ‘look’ I was wearing.
Not only that… when it did grow back out to several inches long… I had to have surgery again… the cancer had returned to the inside of my other lung. I had chemotherapy again… I lost my hair for a second time. Can you imagine what this does to a young woman? She’s fighting for her life, people she loved… trusted turning their backs on her… and lose what we all treasure … her hair?
Skip didn’t want to leave me, when he had to go to the supermarket, stores… he wanted me to fight harder to live; wanted me to do the things I always loved to do. He wouldn’t ‘let me be’… he wouldn’t let me ‘just sit’ when I was too weak… he ‘meant for me to get well’.
Skip is my hero… he knew how to ‘invoke that fighting spirit’ … when it sagged. Guess what? I’m the same kind of person… Skip is. When he later became ill, diagnosed with colon cancer while caring for me… I meant to be well enough to care for him. I ‘had to become stronger’… and, I did.
I, also, ‘knew how to invoke that fighting spirit’. We ‘meant for each other to live’. We are here… now. :)))
When I went with Skip ‘out’… people I liked, cared about…. turned away from me. Why? Did they think they’d die… if they acknowledged me? People ‘used to love me when I was beautiful’… I learned what they’d do when seeing me when I was at ‘death’s door’.
Can you imagine the pain… grief added to my struggle? Did you know… all of ‘you’…. were God-fearing, ‘good’ people, ‘christian people’ who did this to me? I knew ‘each of you’, I knew the very churches you went to… I knew you were ‘supposed’ to be fine, upstanding citizens of the community with your ‘good’ selves.
You were good… I don’t doubt that at all. I wonder ‘what went wrong when you showed no compassion for someone who was deathly ill’? What in ‘your Bible’ told you ‘to turn away’?
I’ve sat many times trying to ‘put myself in your shoes’… to understand ‘why’ you did the way you did. ‘I swear, I just can’t figure it out’. I can’t do that to someone… I hope I never do that. I am a good person, who cares with her heart for both people, animals.
I’m not a ‘christian’ who goes to church to fool, pretend to others that I’m something I’m not. Don’t you get so tired of seeing this happen? I do get sick of it… I stay to myself, because I just simply can’t tolerate being around ‘false’ people. Be yourself… you’ll be happier being ‘true to yourself’… I promise. I am.
You went to your church, probably… that following Sunday… sat there with a sweet, little contented smile… thinking about ‘how good’ you’d been all week, forgetting …how you acted at the supermarket… maybe that didn’t ‘count’…..
Some years later, I would meet you at the supermarket, stores, I would see how uncomfortable you were… ‘you remembered how you treated a dying person’… now, you didn’t want to speak to a … person who won their battle to live. Aren’t you the ‘fine one’?
You have to be proud of yourself… you never had to feel a thing… nor see… you turned your backs, with your Godly selves. You didn’t waste your christian-comforting words on me… it would have been like snagging up on a limb underwater, when fishing. Too damn much trouble to get … free. There’s more fish to catch…
I don’t want to go to ‘your heaven’… at all. I don’t know of even… one real christian. If I did… that’s who I’d like to be associated with. No one is perfect… I don’t care who you are. I truly do… not believe… one person is ‘that perfect’. I really tried to be for several years out of my life… no matter how good I was… ‘I wasn’t good enough’…
Just because ‘you aren’t perfect’ doesn’t mean you treat people badly… especially when… they are at a point in life… a smile, even a kind word could make all the difference in them wanting to live… or to die. Think about that… with your christian selves… when you are sitting there in church thinking you are so… Godly.
Do you know the ‘power you have as a person’? Just moving your mouth in the tiniest of smiles, if you didn’t want to smile at all… can comfort someone without you realizing it.
You could even just ‘smile’ with your eyes, if you didn’t want to move your lips. You could barely ‘nod’ your head; barely ‘move your hand’… just at least acknowledge someone, especially when they are very sick. Did you know as a person… just doing only those little things… can bring ‘big’ comfort?
I realized I looked awful… in comparison with all my ‘family’ that day. I looked like ‘hell’. I knew I’d made a terrible mistake in coming to her funeral… I was being judged by my family members… and some of them were glad they finally had a chance to laugh, make fun of me. Why didn’t someone come to me, care?
On both sides of my ‘family’, no one cared. One brother that truly loved me, cared. My brother, Ricky… ‘Rick-Rick’. He and I, had the same mother… we never grew up together. No one knew he had a sister, and I… a brother… much less, a mother. No one grew up in the same home… together. No one could associate anyone with me to know… yes, I had ‘real family’. Just ‘not like their families’.
I remember once when I was so bad off… I barely opened my eyes at the hospital… I saw Rick-Rick with tears in his eyes standing at the foot of my bed… he was looking at me with such pain in his expression. I couldn’t speak to him… did he ever know I saw him? Did I ever tell him?
Sadly, my brother… Rick-Rick… died in 2007. He was the only family member who loved as I did… he loved me no matter what. I was the same way… no matter what. The love we felt for each other didn’t have anything with who, what we had in life… it was a true brother-sister love. That’s the only time in my life I ever experienced that… it was unconditional. I never-ever felt that with anyone else in my ‘family’… on either side.
I sat on the couch in my aunt’s beautiful home… everyone sat around. When I first got there, they looked me up, then… down. I smiled, my face already feeling numb from medicines… felt number, embarrassed. I shouldn’t have been there… I was no longer ‘good enough’. I looked too bad, too sick to have done anything about it… I did the best I could.
I pretended not to see my sisters, and their families laughing at me. They knew I’d been fighting for my life… I’d just come through battles they didn’t know exist. They never had an illness to knock them down to death’s door… When one would catch my eye… I would smile in a kind way… I saw ‘smirking’ in theirs.
It was how I ‘looked’. I’d been fighting for my life to get to the point I was at in life for so long. I was sitting there… being made fun of… laughed at. I looked at one of them… who was a stripper in a bar… ‘she’ was making fun of me… to her mother-in-law who……… I’ll never forget that. My sister was laughing at me… the one I truly loved as a child.
Strange enough that day… I saw three sisters. One was a sister who had the same mother I did… she did seem to care; she looked for me. She came to sit beside me… I will never forget that. It did mean a lot to me. She never knew the ‘other sisters’ I had… they all only ‘knew of each other’. At certain times in our lives… we’d all lived within … 4-5 miles from the other… in different homes.
I remember the expressions from my ‘family’… looking at her. Everyone thought they were ‘better’. The strange thing is… they really … weren’t better, not at all. She handled herself beautifully that day. I’m sure with her being healthy, not ill like I was… she had surely seen how ‘my family’ were doing.
More strange is… ‘they were all my family’, not her family at all. I have to write it this way… it’s a good thing I know all this… I would become confused! Just know this as you read… I don’t hate anyone, nor do I wish bad for them… I am just writing another ‘color’ in my life… a dark color.
So, no one has to judge anyone… you know, everyone is on a different plane in life… we do as we feel we must do… even, if we are making a mistake. Then… time goes by… and maybe we think about what we did… and we are sorry… only, it’s too late to go back to say that. No one knows where anyone is… and no one knows how the other will take them… and … all ‘that kind of stuff’.
Years go by… and those kind of things ‘become unimportant’… why? Because, as time goes by… lots of time… one is learning the ‘for-real’ important things in life. Those things from the past ‘no longer matter’. Sure, they aren’t forgotten… but, there comes a time when you think to yourself… ‘that’s okay, now… they did what they felt they needed to do… for whatever reason’.
When people have these kind of things happen in life… everyone tends to think ‘it’s the end of the world… relationship’. It’s really not… but, not many people ‘find their way back’ to see that. Be it pride, anger, pain… it prevents them from ‘going back to see’.
From all this, I look for my lesson learned… it’s that I’m amazed at the things that ‘almost killed me, destroyed me, hurt me’… I forgive people for. Those things that devastated me at one time or other in my life… no longer seem important.
I’ve let go a long time ago. I’m so glad… I don’t have ‘to grow old’ with ‘pure hate’ in my heart. It’s my nature to ‘hate, be angry’… it was ‘born in me’. But… somehow, I’ve escaped ‘that part of me’… I’m not like that at all… ‘even if I appear’ to be that way.
Of course, there are some people I’m never going to like… even the best person in the world… has ‘those people’. The main thing here is… to treat them with respect… be nice, get away from them as soon as possible. You don’t want them in your life, they aren’t ‘nice’ people. Don’t waste time with them… you know how they are.
Sitting there, at my aunt’s house, I fought the desire to just get up, leave. Drive back home, hide myself. I wasn’t strong enough for the world … yet. I didn’t know ‘my own family’ would become my enemy on my father’s side of the family. You wouldn’t believe… I didn’t. How sad I am when I think about all that… transpired. All I learned…
I will give them the credit they deserve for that day. They won… they succeeded in making me feel so little. I wasn’t the strong, beautiful young woman they remembered seeing. I sure didn’t appear to be ‘rich’, anymore. I know some of them were …glad.
You know… jealousy. Women are like that naturally… think about it… you might not let others know it… but, naturally if you are a woman, there’s someone you are jealous of… envy. Females… it’s a female ‘thing’.
I won’t even argue this with anyone… females are like this, no matter… how they hide it. Life is like that… and that’s the way it is. That’s right……
They had never seen me wearing such clothes as an adult. Hell, I probably didn’t know what I had on… myself. All I could think about was my grandmother had died… I loved her very much. I hadn’t long been at the door… that she entered, and I … ran away from. Death’s door… my grandmother was 100 years old.
I told you… you wouldn’t believe how bad I looked… imagine someone you love, coming back from death’s door… the only thing pretty about them is ‘that smile in their eyes’, the smile that says, ‘I’m so glad to be here, I made it, I’m glad to see you’!
Fighting spirit, I do have. I have more fighting spirit than… I have anything else. I was taught that well as a child. No one wanted me, on either side of my family. It’s made me feel the same way as an adult. I don’t really ‘want’ anyone that’s ‘family’… that’s a good way of staying in turmoil. I’m too private for that.
I only have a very few people in my life now… that I want. I learned my lesson well… strange enough, it took almost this long… to learn this particular lesson. Thank God, I have. I can’t bear the pain of loving so many people … I’ve been taught ‘over and over, and over’ how it feels to ‘lose everyone I truly loved’.
The pain, oh my God… the pure, pure pain of grieving. If you never experienced it ‘over and over’… there’s no way … you can understand. Especially when it seems in life… the only people dying are the ‘most important loved ones’ you ever had.
‘Now’… I want to be friends with everyone… but, I never want to be ‘close’ to anyone in my private life… never, never… never. If you get gone tomorrow… I’ve got to be ‘far enough back from loving you, as I can’… I can’t bear the pain… the knowledge that you… are gone.
Truthfully, even the distance I put there… doesn’t buffer the pain I feel in my heart. I love people who don’t love me back. When I say that… I can honestly say… it doesn’t matter. I don’t need their love… I just need how I feel inside… it feel right.
I hate people that I love… I don’t love people that I like. I was taught that as a little girl. It’s natural for me, but… probably not for you. You probably had the perfect childhood. I’m glad for you… you probably didn’t have to learn lessons the hard way… making your life more rewarding, easier… happier. It took me … longer to get here. :)))
The positive thing is… I turned out to be a ‘good’ person, too. Even if you don’t like me… or even if… you think ‘you’ are better. It doesn’t matter to ‘me’… life isn’t about wasting it on being liked by the wrong people. Life is about real things…
My fighting spirit makes some people like me, or not like me. Why?Because, they see a very sweet person in front of them… and you know how it is… eventually there are going to be the ones… who want to take advantage of a good person.
Their thinking is that … ‘hey , she’s too nice to be mean’. How many times have I encountered that in my life? People have even said after ‘trying to take advantage of me… pushed me too far’…. ‘but, I thought you were a nice person’!
They learned quickly… even a nice, good person …has limits. To be ‘good, nice’… doesn’t mean you have to do what ‘bad’ people want… or fall down on the ground and say… ‘walk on me’.
When I say ‘I don’t like ‘you’… I promise ‘you’ …. there’s good reason. If I don’t speak to you first, when meeting you… you can bet your ‘ass’ that you’ve done something negative to affect my life… and for the ‘time-being’… I DON’T like you. To get me to speak to you… you have to speak first. I might warm up to you… I might not. Depends…
Each person has power… no matter who we are. No matter if people appear to not care… they do. Doesn’t matter who you are… it does matter. Even the ‘lowest person on earth’ can make a person feel better… with just a nod, a wink… movement of their hand.. a tiny smile from their eyes… or mouth. Do you know the power you have as a person?