21 December, 2015


presented by

Mystic Metals Body Jewelry


Merry Christmas. I don't want to write today. I think I've run out of interesting things to say, and I'm not feeling particularly interesting. Strange because I tend to talk a lot, but I've realized recently that I don't have much of value to say. Things to resolve in the coming calendar, I suppose. But I'm going to write anyway because I have three fans, and they seem to care about what I have to say. Jet, Krista, and Becks; I hope you're happy because I'm cranky as shit.

I'm going to write about my grandmother today. She was the most beautiful woman who ever lived. The most charismatic, the most loving, and the most innocent. That's in past tense because she is dead. A couple years ago, she was killed by cancer. I didn't particularly acclimate to the slowness and finality because at thirty plus years old, she was the first death in my family. I had been to many funerals. Parents and loved ones of friends, friends themselves, but never someone with whom I shared blood. It was a blessing and a curse. And I never dealt with it.

I miss her very much. She had a smile that was more full of life than the solar system's most brilliant sun. She was a tough Sicilian woman who could love equally as intensely. She doted on her family as if we were royalty, unknowing that she herself was the royalty. Spotless house, meals fit for a foreign ambassador, and a listening ear that would imbibe every detail.

My grandfather, whom we call Popi, is the clear patriarch of the family. Born and raised in Madrid, he fled because of bullshit political reasons and went from wealth to nothing and back again to comfort; personifying the American Dream. He met my grandmother in New York City, and after twin girls, another daughter, and a son, he has become a widower, a great grandfather, and king who misses his queen.

Though Popi sat at the head of the table, usually myself to his left, with elbows free from resting and the proper utensil used for the appropriate course; tie clip in the correct spot, pen in the breast pocket, hair combed to perfection, and face shaven cleanly each day, to his right was his elegant woman of equal influence, elegance, and grace. They would tell stories in tandem about life in the City before whatever new thing came along and ruined it. They would tell their first date in intensely accurate detail. A photo of that date lives in a frame in my house. The well dressed and dapper European and the stunningly beautiful American. A thousand words aren't nearly enough for that photo, no could I hope to be a good enough writer in a thousand lifetimes to describe it.

Christmas. Popi to my right, Grandma across from me. Fish on the Eve, meat on the day. Stories. Jokes. Grandma's smile. Before dinner, sitting in the living room. Come sit next to your grandmother, she'd say. And I would. Tell me something, she'd say. And I would. Even then, I had nothing to say the same way I do now, but I'd tell her about a girl I was dating and she'd make me shy with her reactions. I'd tell her about work, and she'd ask questions. She would ask if I got any new modifications, and I'd show her new tattoos or piercings. She was always fascinated by my modifications in a frightened curiosity that evolved into a genuine interest. She'd even read my blog. She herself wrote beautifully in the past, and we'd talk about poetry. I didn't share nearly enough as I ought to have, and I regret that very much. She told me she learned a lot from my blog, which I always interpreted in polite interest, but she would touch my tattoos and ask smart questions. When I took my beautiful mother for her first tattoo, Grandma was wildly interested and supportive.

Elegance and grace. She'd playfully call herself a dingbat, but she was much wiser than she'd have allowed people to know. She was tough, hard when she needed to be, and the most loving person. Then she got cancer. Everyone does, I suppose. I live in New Jersey; everyone gets cancer. Like most her age, she was a smoker when she was young. Even in my grandparents' wedding photos, they hold cigarettes. She hadn't had one in almost twice my lifetime, and her lungs decided they didn't care and made cancer anyway. When they looked at her lungs, they found cancer in everything else. All over her beautiful body. She was resistant to the idea of chemotherapy and radiation, but at the start gave it a go. And in her way of never compromising her beauty, she would go to her appointments dressed well. Clothes planned the night before, hair done and perfect, fingernails manicured, shoes polished and a purse to match.

Side story: Popi and Grandma were in Walmart on a day that my grandmother was convinced was a good day. She wanted to leave the house. They go, she uses the restroom, and leaving, she falls. Hard. The Walmart staff sprung to action, got her safe, and put her in an ambulance to the hospital. I picked up Popi from the hospital to bring him back to his car, drop it off, and return him to my grandmother's side. On the return trip, Popi and I argued about if I would let him fill my gas tank, which is one of those super silly things that is easy to laugh at amid tragedy. There's always something dumb in those situations; some absurd detail you remember. When I got to the hospital, my grandmother was lying in the hospital bed, a cyborg with tubes and lines leading to beeping things. She saw me, smiled, and asked how I was. I said, ok. She apologized for how awful she looked in a hospital gown. I told her I loved her, and she smiled. I left and went to the Walmart to thank them for their response, and I cried while telling them. It was the first time I cried about my grandmother's cancer. A giant black lady who worked there gave me a hug, called me sugar, and told me my grandmother is beautiful.

After Grandma gave up on the therapies that were only rotting her body more and not really killing anything that was killing her, she went home and slept and waited to die. I'd see her, probably more infrequently that I ought to have which I regret very much, and she said to me, come sit by your grandmother. I did. She said, I know you smoke. I'm not asking you to quit, but that's why I'm dying and it's just a silly way to die. She was always playful and beautiful. I said, ok. I still smoke, but a little less now. You don't break a promise to a Sicilian grandmother. The last time I saw her was in her house, lying quietly and slow in her bed. She looked ready. We chatted briefly, and when leaving I said, I'll see you soon. I always say that to people. I don't say goodbye. I say, I'll see you soon. There's a hopefulness there. There's a tomorrow. I said to her, I love you, and I'll see you soon. She said with a playful smile the way she said everything, Probably not, but that's ok. I love you.

I wrote about this because Jet asked me to. Grandma died in a January, so the holiday time that gets all wrapped together is reminiscent of her dying. This story isn't a cancer is bad story. This isn't a hug the ones you love story. I don't give much of a care about cancer, and I couldn't care less if you love your family or not. That's your business. I happen to love mine very much, and I don't deal with death well, and even still several years later, I haven't dealt with it at all. I don't understand death. I'm terrified of it. And when people leave my reality, I have a difficult time reconciling the idea that I've been good enough to them when they were living. But who does. Earlier this week, Jet and I were talking about women and grace and elegance. The attitudes of antiquity, and the way women should be treated. Grace and elegance. There's only one true example of that in my reality on which I base all grace and elegance. Sweet Louise is the beginning of the example, and the measure by which all grace and elegance is compared. Stay beautiful, kids.

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1 comment:

  1. Andrew, how beautiful. My mother was all those things and more. Reading your blog took me back to great family memories. How ironic that I had a dream about her last night. It's still hard to imagine that mom is gone. There is not a day that I don't think about her or wonder what advise she would give me. And then It dawns on me that if she could she would be hitting me off the top of my head telling me to knock it off and to stop feeling sad. That was Nana!