By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee
Yesterday morning I got up thinking I’m going to feel good. I fed our Pups, and went to my wonderful shower …you all know my love for warm, soapy water! Bubbles from my perfumed soaps, the beautiful scents….
I took my shower using the bar of Dial soap my husband gave to me over a week ago. For some reason I’ve been using that bar of soap every day since he gave it to me. Normally, I would use my perfumed soaps. I keep trying to hold onto a memory from my childhood… ‘why’? I just don’t really know.
Once the Dial soap is wet, the scent instantly takes me back to when I was a little girl. It takes me always to the home of my cousins who lived next door to my Grandma Alma and George’s.
The big, sparkling white bathroom… lots of little kids running around squealing with happiness. Some of them getting into that big porcelain bathtub of nice, warm water to take their baths… some of them getting out. There were a lot of soapy washcloths hanging on the side of the tub, in the tub.
I can see little drops of water dripping from washcloths onto the sparkling, white tile floor. The window was open, a breeze blowing the curtain… I can see the sun shining… all of these things making that moment a wonderful memory in my mind.
How as a little girl I wished to be in that wonderful, warm tub of soapy water… before I was thrown to hell… I knew how it felt to play in my own tub with warm, soapy water.
Remember … I couldn’t take nice baths like that once I had to come to Grandma Alma and George’s to live. I would go into the bathroom on their back porch in fear of something jumping on me, something getting on me. It was scary.
I would stand at their white porcelain tub, and wish to bathe in warm, soapy water. I would turn the handle to make the water come on… I never understood ‘why’ it was always cold. Not knowing any better, I would try sometimes to get into the cold water to take a warm bath… always coming out of it, freezing to death.
As a little girl, I just didn’t know how to make that water warm. I didn’t know that Grandma Alma and George only had cold water. If I had known that, I still wouldn’t have known ‘why’, I was too young to understand.
My whole world changed to a life I didn’t know, wasn’t used to. No longer was there someone to cook, clean the home I lived in, to care for me, dress me. I was having to do this for myself at the age of nine.
George, who was blind, would tell me what to do…. Grandma Alma would tell me to come to her, she would take her one good hand to try and help me to dress each day. As time went by there, all of my beautiful school dresses, shoes changed to clothes I wasn’t used to wearing. I know I must have looked like a little orphan back then… I was an orphan,
I was a thrown-away child. Sometimes, I was wanted only to be thrown away again. My mother couldn’t maintain a stable life for herself, much less having a child to care for.
Grandma Alma and George didn’t have money to buy me things, much less to buy their food, pay their bills, and pay the milkman (how well I remember the milk there… that’s ‘why’ I don’t ‘see’ milk today… no one was allowed to drink the milk… it was for my Grandma Alma. She was paralyzed, sick… needed it. I learned to never see it in the refrigerator. I ‘can’t see’ milk today in our refrigerator.
My Grandma Alma and George… I can’t tell you how much I loved them. I loved seeing their smiles, hearing them laugh. I can see in my mind’s eye… George sitting there with a light in his sightless eyes, his round belly shaking as he laughed… sometimes he’d slap his knee when he was really tickled.
My Grandma Alma’s smile was something else… it made one feel so ‘loved’. Her eyes would soften when she looked at me, or at any of her grandchildren. She was like a fierce lioness where her grandchildren were concerned… even paralyzed she’d ‘fight’ from that chair that held her hostage for over twenty years… to protect her grandchildren. She threw ‘many a glass of water’ from that chair… it was her ‘ammunition’.
How sad… how funny it was to a little, frightened girl who would be crouched behind Grandma Alma’s rocking recliner chair… Grandma Alma would dare someone ‘to touch that child’… if they even made an advance to come closer… my beautiful Grandma Alma would throw that water in their face! My Grandma Alma loved me with her heart.
The sunshine would shine in that ‘house that was the portal to hell’ when my Grandma Alma and George would smile. It just never lasted long enough…. it was as if that house wouldn’t let happiness dwell there long. Hell-raising would break out constantly there… life was pure hell there. For a little innocent child that was ‘thrown to the lions’, it was truly a nightmare.
I learned that ‘I didn’t smell good anymore’ from some of my classmates. How does a child know these things? I learned the hard way so much in my life. How so innocent I was… how ‘so unknowing I was as a little girl’. I still feel ’embarrassed’ in today’s time as an older woman…
Grandma Alma and George did the very best they could… she was paralyzed, he was blind.
The positive about all the negative, painful life I had was/is that once I learned, I never forgot. Think of getting a powerful shock from high voltage every time you learn something… the life lessons I learned almost …always hurt ‘that bad’. If you don’t want to feel pain… don’t do it again.
You better learn as fast as you can because ‘it’s going to hurt, hurt bad’… if you don’t! I really always tried to learn ‘once I became aware of ‘what it was’ that I needed to learn. I hurt… a lot.
For a moment I stop to think, try to ‘see a little closer’ into that time… I wonder ‘who’ brushed my hair, or if it was brushed, then?
I have to step back in my mind… it really hurts when I try to ‘go close’, my stomach gets a strange feeling. Many things in my life make me feel like that… I have alot that ‘I can’t remember’ for the pain it causes me.
Once I begin thinking ‘beyond’ the wonderful memory of my cousins bathing in the Dial soap ‘back then’… I begin to feel that sick sensation inside. I just wanted to remember the memory of the ‘happy’ time.
I showered, dressed and left to go to Walmart to pick up chews for Mr. Kissy, and Chadwick. Kissy has to have his chew every night so, he can relax and settle down to sleep. A chew is his pacifier. He is a big, spoiled Rottie puppy.
Some days are very hard for me, today seemed to be one of them. Not only did my body hurt… my ‘mind’ hurt, too.
As the morning progressed, the more ‘weight’ I felt sitting on my shoulders. I began to feel disoriented, so weak from carrying such a load. I really didn’t feel like talking, smiling… I was proud that I did, though.
That’s how I can fool people into thinking I am just fine… that way no one will look closely at me… I can go on my way until I make it home to… just ‘simply be’.
I just wanted to get home, out of sight from everyone before they noticed that I wasn’t walking tall… my shoulders were being pressed down by the weight on them.
I laid down on the bed, Kissy and Chadwick jumped up to lay beside me. They knew it was unusual for me to lay down, I don’t usually give up so easily. They loved the opportunity to be lay close to me, and sleep. How they comfort me, I let my hand, my foot touch both of them as I slept to get away from the pain in my mind, body.
I wonder ‘if’ anyone can ever ‘see’ the huge, heavy weight I carry? For a moment, I will find humor here… not the extra weight that I am working at losing… :)))
I’m talking about the invisible weight that sometimes threatens to crush me into the ground… I’m very strong because I carry it each day. Some days it isn’t as ‘heavy’. Yesterday, it was almost more than I could carry.
Grief… that’s what the weight is… pure, pure grief. Sometimes it can get the best of me. Sometimes I think I can talk about Tommy and think how well I did… when I get alone, something happens inside me.
It did this morning. I was happy I could speak about Tommy, it was one of those times I didn’t feel like I would cry. I spoke to two people I knew, about Tommy.
I told them a little about his ‘last’ trip to the ocean, how I worried about him and his family getting there safely that Memorial Day weekend…… how I relaxed and was so glad. How… I got ‘that phone call’ from a stranger……… after that I stopped, I couldn’t talk about it anymore.
How nice they were, they both hugged me not knowing how that touched my heart, how that meant alot to me at that moment. I told them that I write, that normally I don’t talk about things and ‘why I chose to at that moment’… I just didn’t know.
When I left there, the weight I felt pressing on my shoulders became ‘heavier’…. I felt my heart begin to hurt, the tears begin to make my eyes burn, the pain in my throat began… all I wanted to do was to get home.
Grief, something so invisible, something you can’t hold in your hand, has the power to cause such physical pain. No one can see you being hurt by it, being attacked by it…. they stand there not knowing you are ‘being torn apart, devoured by it’.
‘If all of a sudden’ they could see ‘grief’ as it really was, they would see a person being shred to pieces in front of their eyes. But.. they can’t see the gaping wounds, scars left from each time … grief strikes.
The strange thing is that a person, ‘me’… can stand there and smile… no one the wiser… as I’m being ‘cut to pieces, shredded’ by the grief that follows my every step.
Picture in your mind standing still while wild animals were ripping your flesh… to keep anyone from knowing the pain you were experiencing… you just smile, pretend everything is alright… while you are ‘bleeding to death’…. and the pain… oh my God, the pain.
When I finally got home, came inside… I walked to the bedroom, debated with myself about ‘giving up’ and just going to bed. This time… I had to give up, I fluffed my pillows to lay my head on… as I laid down on the comforter I was pulling the quilt up to my chin to ‘comfort me’… like my mama used to do to me each night as a little girl…. before ‘I went to hell’.
I was so thankful to be to myself, where no one could see me as I laid down beneath the weight of my … grief. Pure, pure grief. I felt I could no longer hold it up… I had to lay down to rest from it.
I felt tears on my eyelashes as I closed my eyes… tears of relief that I could finally just be in the darkness for a little while… the kind of darkness that was comforting to me now…. sleep.
It’s strange … when we see something heavy trying to crush a person… everyone runs to rescue them. It’s strange because when something heavy is crushing someone that can’t be seen… how can anyone run to rescue them? The weight is just as great.
Grief…. the weight one carries inside, on their shoulders that can’t be seen. I suffer in silence as it hurts me, crushes me… with a smile on my face while I let you know that I am fine, all is well, my tears and red eyes are from allergies I suffer… I stand there with such a heavy weight on my shoulders, no one can help me… they can’t see it.
I have tried once again to ‘put grief into words’… you can’t see how heavy it is, you may sometimes see my shoulders looking stooped from the weight. I try to hold them high, straight… if I’m not careful, the weight will pull them down again.
Tommy… I just miss my son. I miss his sunshine smile, the sound of his voice, his laughing eyes, his funny jokes, hearing his cowardly lion laugh, even when he liked to take his big hand (he was so much taller than I)… and put it on top of my head and mess my hair up! He would say ‘mama, you have hair all over your head’! I didn’t like him to mess my hair up… but, I’d be so glad for him to mess it up now.
This is ‘why’ I carry that invisible weight on my shoulders, that pain. Only I am aware of it, because I ‘feel’ it… I can’t see it, either. But, it’s there… always there. Can you see the weight I carry on my shoulders?