They Just Didn’t Know How Many Trains Had Hit Me …

Photos of Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee (Skip and Camie)

Well, as you can see … I’m beginning to look better.  Grief plays havoc on one’s soul, body … mentally.  It played Hell with my … everything.  I have looked like Hell for 5 years.

Guess what?  I didn’t care … I didn’t give a damn how I looked … much less how you thought I should look or didn’t look.  ‘Didn’t make me no never mind’.

Something clicked in me about 2 months ago … since … I have begun feeling good inside, outside.  I’ve taken an interest in dressing pretty once again  … wearing make-up, earrings … and all sorts of things.

I wonder if you can see the difference?  I know that several times for a short time my photos reflected ‘me’ where I looked nice again.  It never lasted long … grief kept sucking me into the darkness where I constantly fought to stay afloat.  I could have allowed myself to drown in the pain … that fighting spirit I have … even I’m amazed at it.  Where did it come from?

I think of my Grandma Alma … it came from her.  She was paralyzed for many years after a stroke … as a little girl living in her house … I watched her fighting spirit.  She never stopped.

My Grandma Alma was an amazing woman … I truly wish I knew her now, as the adult woman I have become.  She never showed her fear no matter she wasn’t physically able to defend herself.  Defend herself she did!  When Grandma Alma raised Hell … everyone stopped to listen … if they didn’t … all Hell broke loose.  That was when Grandma Alma had had enough.

Grandma Alma and the only grandfather I ever knew … George … protected me as a little girl.  I think of them when I look back to see where I learned strength … otherwise, where did it come from?

Grandma Alma was paralyzed … George was blind.  They were weak … but, they were the strongest people I’ve ever known … excepting Skip.  They faced things head-on … and no matter how it hurt them, scared them … they faced it with burning hell-fire.  Fight fire with fire … they didn’t back down … they always had to fight for something … even to have peace in their own home.  Peace never lasted more than a few minutes … unless everyone was asleep.  Hell would break loose … waking everyone up.

Sometimes … I saw George who was a big man … lose.  As a little girl, I remember the pain in my Heart … watching a big man fall.  Even as young as I was … I knew that was so wrong.  I saw someone knock him down … I have never forgotten.  He was blind … the person who did it was a … female.  It was so wrong … oh my God … it was so wrong, so awful.

Grandma Alma and George lived in Hell … I grew up in Hell …  Hell was raised every day of their life.  I can raise Hell with the best of them … but, I don’t choose to.  Not many people have ever seen me raise Hell … but, I promise you … it’s very ugly.  That’s why I don’t choose to do it … when I do it, I go for blood and I mean to win.

 I learned that as a child … I could have grown up to be … a really bad person.  I didn’t have it in me.  I only have it in me when my life, my loved ones, or someone … or an animal can’t defend themselves.  Oh my God … all Hell could break loose … and it all be silent.

Silent Hell … with a little, sweet smile that isn’t sweet.  That’s me … I don’t like that at all.  My Grandma Alma could do that … one knew to watch out … the Devil was coming for them … the thing was … they never knew when it would strike.  That was the beauty of it!  I loved my Grandma Alma … I can see her in my mind’s eye ….

Sitting in her old, upholstered rocking recliner … when you looked into her clear, sharp blue eyes … you saw such intelligence.  She could hold her own in a conversation … and match wits with the best.  She had to have been something else before … she had that horrible stroke.  I heard only good things about her … before her stroke.  She worked very hard, and she had a flair for dressing.  When she loved … she loved.

Her hair was white, her skin very smooth … the sun never got a chance to kiss it with lines, wrinkles.  She had a laugh that would make everyone feel happy for hearing it.  She could laugh as much as she could … cuss.  My Grandma Alma … ‘didn’t take no shit’.  If she did … and you didn’t know her … you didn’t know … Hell was coming for you until it was too late.

Most people in my family turned to drugs, alcohol to cope with all the terrible things in life.  As a young person, I tried to experiment … I was too damn chicken to do anything … yet, I had to save pride and say yes, I know what such and such feels like.  Well, my secret is … I don’t know jack-shit what a lot of things taste … or feel like.  When young … people are so dumb … why does one feel like they have to pretend they did this or that … they are the bravest, and will do things no one else has the nerve to?

I was the square when everyone else was round … and I like round shapes better than square shapes!  I don’t like points at all!  The funny thing is … only the people (very few, I promise) who were close to me … knew that I wasn’t …  ‘wild, daring, unafraid of anything’.

 I was realistic … I just met things head-on … ‘if you are going to kill me … do it, or shut up’!  🙂  I meet things in life without drugs, alcohol … even pain medicines I really need.

Why?  God, don’t ask me ‘why?’  I think back to being a little girl … I’m in Grandma Alma’s semi-dark bedroom … there’s a little night-table … on the surface are many, many bottles of pills.  Oh, the fear inside me … oh, Grandma … you could die if you don’t take all these medicines!  I promised when I got big … I wasn’t going to have a lot of medicines to take so, I could live.  I never wanted her to die.  Wow … I just felt the hot sting of tears behind my eyelids … so much pain that’s been buried.  I need to let that rest now.

No one knew I learned to fear drugs, alcohol as a little girl.  I knew it helped to create the Hell I lived in, and the physical and mental pain … I suffered.  Not only that … all the other children who had to come live at Grandma Alma, and George’s house.  Some got to escape sooner than others … into another Hell … somewhere else.  I don’t think many of us ever knew calm, peace and quiet as a child.  No one would believe … what was amazing as I grew older … was finding out it wasn’t … normal.  It wasn’t the way all children had to live.  Damn … wasn’t that a bitch!

The thing is … I ‘fooled’ everyone into thinking I was the … coolest thing!  That was part of the game of Life as a young person … the secret was ‘ fool someone into thinking you are something … you are not’.  How many people do I see ‘now’ … walking ‘in my shoes’?  I can name them right and left.

They feel they have to impress, make others think they have more than the other … everyone knows if you have the best … that means you are the best, right?  Damn … a young person can be so stupid, waste so much time in caring what everyone thinks.

Material things … do … not … make … a person.  They only make them vain, selfish, lots of times … ugly people who are braggarts.  Everybody knows one or two in their life.  No one wants them around … they get sick and damn tired of listening to how much this cost, how much that cost … and mine is bigger than yours … and you don’t have one!

Now … as an older woman … you can think what you want as long as I know who I am, and am happy with that person … me.  I am my best friend … I like me.  I am a good person … I didn’t say perfect person … because I’m not … but, I’m one of the best people I know … even if I could be ‘mean’ as well as be … good.

So, this is me today … I feel my face is beginning to reflect the peace I have found inside … regarding my son’s death … all the deaths in my family … the very ass people I loved with my very Heart.  So many …

I keep thinking about what the oncologist told me not long ago … ‘you shouldn’t be here today’.  Maybe I am here because so many terrible things happened … and all I could focus on was using my fighting spirit to get through them … never knowing I was supposed to die.  Damn … everyone else I loved … died.  No one knew … they … were going to die.  There was a time I ‘knew’ I was dying … and later, several more times … knew I was going to die.  I lived, they didn’t.  So, what’s up with that?

My only child … Tommy.  I knew he was always going to be there. Even he died … so, what am I to think?  What do you think?  Do you realize that I have about 20 family members I truly loved in my life … who died in the past 10-12 years?  Very few are left today … very few are in my life … less than 3 fingers on my hand.

I almost lost Skip in a terrible tractor-trailer wreck in New Mexico.  I lost all in a house fire … both Skip and I survived cancer … we both fought to live for 6 years.  I almost died … congested heart failure.  Oh God, the list goes on … but, I won’t.  It’s just too … tiresome to sit now … think of all of them.

I don’t ever dwell on all these things … I just keep going forward … as far as I can away from these things.  So, you can see how my fighting spirit was, has been in action … constantly.  So … somehow my focus was on the future … even when I wasn’t aware of it … getting past all the terrible things happening in my life … that I didn’t know I was supposed to die.

It’s the only thing I can think of.  I wonder how you could explain it … and you don’t even know the half of the ‘bad’ things that happened in really a ‘short’ time.

See … I didn’t even know I ‘shouldn’t be here today’ … until several weeks ago.  I am a sixteen-year survivor of cancer.  Skip is a fourteen-year cancer survivor.

Through time … I have seen the shock, horror in people’s eyes when they saw me … they knew I looked like a train-wreck … they just didn’t know how many trains had … hit me.

Strange thing here … no one came up to express concern … the mean person in me thinks exactly this:  ‘f___ them’.  They will … get their day.  Only I hope I have it in me … to feel compassion for them.  Maybe I will … maybe I won’t.  That’s the ‘ugly’ person in me saying this because … I told you … I … am … not … perfect.  The good thing here is … I do care!  🙂  I never-ever wish bad for anyone.

Another crazy-ass thing is how so many people can know you for years … never bother to question what in the hell happened to you … for you ‘to look like that’.  They pretend not to see.  In my case, I was glad … I didn’t want anyone to ask me anything.  A lot of people went on their own way glad to see that I didn’t look like I once did … after all … everyone’s glad when someone who has been attractive … looks like a train has hit them.  Especially … women.  It’s a ‘woman thing’.  Don’t you agree?

Now, I’m ‘coming back’ …  I’m ‘seeing things’ in the very people who pretended not to see me when I lived the worst years of my life … who pretended to care ‘before’ that.  Sometimes, I don’t have compassion and I’m glad … until my Heart takes over.  Yes … I do care.  Even if no one cared how many trains had hit me.



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