An All New Kind Of Sadness

Yesterday started off like any other, I woke up, took the necessary medications, and had a small bite to eat. After eating I relaxed in bed for a while. Finally it was time to shower, as I entered the shower I remember the new shampoo in the kitchen, I hightailed it in that direction, as I did I seen my mother in the living room on the couch with a look of what I can now describe as dread, but then couldn't quite make sense of, but I remember sensing immediately it wasn't good. I jokingly tried to anticipate bad news, I drooped my head, slouched my hands behind my back. It hadn't been that long since I had last chatted with her, I figured she was up to something. Then she said the following "Your grandma Dean died." I crashed into the couch behind me into hysterical crying and sobbing. This was a whole new kind of pain. The family had dealt with loss before, certainly, but I hadn't. This was the first time someone I had deep roots with had passed on, and it's like nothing I've ever felt before

My grandma Dean is my fathers mother, she played a much bigger part in my life than he ever did. Though as I grew up we grew apart, and I grew resentful of the comments she made about my weight, I always cherished how she made me feel as a child. She'd look at me and just smile, pick me up and take me places, we would just go cruising in her car listening to instrumental jazz (elevator music), she'd show me off to family and friends and she'd always tell me how proud of me she was. I wasn't particularly great at anything so she was essentially proud of my very existence. I remember one year as a pre-teen, we went riding around town going to all the Christmas displays in town. That was so much fun.

She had active role in my life at least the first ten years in my life, she always made sure I had my hair cut, because it made me more handsome. I was at the barber weekly, and honestly kind of hated it. Every time I was there people would tell me how much I looked like my father, this was an undeniable fact, truly I was his spitting image it seemed, and at a young age, even then that made me uncomfortable, I just wanted to be myself. I didn't want to look like my mom, or my dad, I didn't want to look like anyone, but especially not my dad. My first barber was nice and quiet, I seen him for a very long time, then he moved away and was replaced, a louder, guy replaced him for over 12 years I went to the same barber almost religiously.  Then things got spotty.

For as long as I have been alive my grandmother has, or had rather, diabetes, I'm not sure which type, but she had to take the insulin shots. As I grew older she would make very blunt comments about my weight, comments that I guess in hindsight everyone including myself tried to pretend weren't issues. Or were rather elephants in the room. As the gaps between seeing her grew, so did my weight, I started becoming resentful, bitter, awkward and just scared of her comments, but I was too blind to understand her worry. I ballooned fast, and the history of diabetes on her side of the family is critical. Wish I understood than what I understand now! This realization is making me question a lot of aspects of my life. This whole thing is so overwhelming.

It's been a very long time since I last seen my grandma, and that is going to haunt me maybe for the rest of my life. Since that encounter with my father at the psychiatrists office she had been on my mind, it had been just this past weekend, Saturday in fact, I thought maybe I would start spending time with her, maybe reconnecting, I pictured myself explaining to her how I'm trying to lose the weight, what I've lost, I visualized helping her do household tasks. I thought I had time.

My father was the one who found her, I guess he has been staying with her, I didn't know she had been on dialysis three times a week. She died peacefully in her sleep of natural causes. That is the only comfort I can't take from this. Dad alerted an ambulance after he noticed she was unresponsive. From there he notified family. An aunt contacted my other grandmother, who called my mother, who told me. My dad actually ended up stopping by that night, I was in bed emotionally crippled. He didn't know if I had gotten the news, my told him I had and that I had not taken to it well at all. He informed her he hadn't either, but that if I could, could I come by her place tomorrow (now today) sometime. He also told her the funeral would be next Wednesday. Once he left mom informed. I was hit with another wave of intense emotion.

At some point I finally managed to shower, after which I returned to my room and bed and did not move. When I wasn't crying, and regretting, and feeling guilty, or feeling that familiar haze return, I wondered about dad, even before he came over, I instinctively knew that the knock at the door that night was him though. After he left and I was delivered his message I was feeling so completely overwhelmed. What do I do!? All I wanted to do was stay in my bed, under the covers in my room, door shut, never to face reality ever again! I didn't want today to come, I was going to skip therapy and skip life, back into recluse, into the proverbial crevasse.

I woke up this morning feeling well rested, exhausted, and drained all at once. I don't know how to make sense of that but that is the best I can do to describe it. I had a mild breakfast, showered and decided I was going to go to therapy. Therapy was just a pain, I wanted it to be over 2 minutes in, it just dragged on. Finally it ended on the way home I decided to make a detour... To grandmas to see dad. I had not at all thought it through, it was an impulse decision. As we got close to my grandmothers house it suddenly dawned on me that other family might be there, it was too late to sink in, we were there and people were on the porch and I could not tell if dad was one of them. We stopped. I swallowed my anxiety to the back of my throat. I got out and mom did too, even though she has no relation, simply out of support and courtesy (thank goodness). As we approached the porch of unfamiliar faces they all somehow recognized me, it was awkward as I knew none of them and didn't even pretend to out of politeness, I've found that only makes my anxiety worse. They were all a friendly bunch though, but no dad, finally I made my way inside.

 Standing down the hallway two rooms away, male-birther my father, I walked up to him and gave him a hug, a hug that made me cringe internally. We sat down and talked, my mom joined, it was a casual, but awkward affair, mostly him and my mother did the talking. Me and him made some exchanges too. One that stood out "you still into computers" (how deliciously 90s) a question I genuinely don't know the answer to anymore, but heard a whole lot growing up, but certainly had an answer then.

I notice on the wall pictures of my great grandmother, she passed when I was 13, it didn't effect me much, though I was sad, she was a lovely kindhearted lady. There was a picture of my father, and other unfamiliar family, and a picture of me, there are other pictures of her grandchildren in the house but only I'm in the living room, I felt very special. It's one I handmade the frame for which I semi-remember making even. It has a paper frame with glued on noodles, the picture raised quite a few alarms though as I look to be about 5 or 6 and I am clearly skinny. This goes against everything I remember about my rise to obesity, but that's an issue for another post.

We watched some TV and talked about grandma, mom grilled my dad about his weight and I'll admit I got a certain satisfaction out of that, every time he seemed taken aback. Dad has lost a lot of weight. Mom asked how he lost so much since she last seen him (which she seen him last, a year ago), dad literally said "I don't know." She kept making comments about his sudden thinness as if to imply she never seen him so light, which seemed to bother him, I enjoyed this. I know that sounds totally ridiculous and petty, but I'm not even going to rationalize it, I just can't. Finally my mom made up some bogus story about needing to run some errands, dad followed us to the car we said our goodbyes to my other family members, dad asked me when was the next time I was going to show up, he looked at me in a way that was sad, as if he was worried he would never see me again. He asked if I could come back again this week I told him I probably would. Then we left.

 I found out recently that my brothers were jealous of me when I was growing up (the nerve!) but in hindsight looking back at my relationship with my grandma Dean I can sort of understand a bit, they often complained of how mom spoiled me and how hard they had it, and her mom, our mutual grandma didn't over spoil any of us. Their fathers mother, their exclusive grandmother lived far away and wasn't in the picture, much like their father, much like my father. That's where my grandmother differed though.


  1. I'm so sorry for your loss. As you know I've been going through a similar experience and it's very hard. Be kind to yourself and don't force yourself into social situations if you're not ready but do go to the funeral (as I'm sure you will) even though it will be hard because I've found that formal goodbye has really helped me with both my parents.

    It sounds like your dad really wants to reconnect with you, from the couple of encounters you've had. That is totally up to you, don't feel like you have to just because he wants it. Only do it if you think it will give you some kind of closure on your childhood, and not if you're not ready. It sounds like having your mum there was a good shield.

  2. Brandon, so sorry for the loss of your grandmother. I hope your dad sees his mistakes and becomes the dad he should be if that would make you happy. A death can make people realize what's important sometimes. Take care and again I'm very sorry for your loss.

  3. I'm sorry for your loss, Brandon. Even with tricky relationships, it's always a shock and painful anyway. Looking back on your relationship with your grandmother, it sounds a lot more like she was scared and trying to "mother" you about your weight in a way that had the most impact as possible in a shorter moment. Because of fear, concern, and maybe not understanding you as well as she wanted to, it all came out wrong and like she was attacking you. It sounds, from your own evaluation, that deep down it was coming from a place of love, not abuse (even if it often came off that way.) It's hard to see people as human when they're in authority roles in our lives, but it sounds like she really did love you very much. Hold onto that, that's the important stuff.

    I'm sorry for the whole situation and everything you're going through!

  4. I'm sorry for the loss of your grandma Brandon. Everyone grieves in their own way and time so be patient with yourself.

    I lost my beloved dad 4.5 years ago and I still miss him every day. He was my best friend I hope things get better between you and your dad.


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