This is the only photo I have of my Grandmother, Nancy. It's from her obituary. I can't tell you her birthday, or how old she was when she passed in early 2015. I can tell you about the incredible ways she took care of me when in her company and loved me, though, and I can tell you my current day thoughts on this kind-hearted and sweet woman.
I remember being a child and being so excited that it was time to go see Grandma, this usually meant that I was about to be doted on, cared for, and the center of attention for the day, as a result of her and my Grandfather's sweetness. This was a far cry from my usual day to day, where luxuries were rare and the amount of fun activities I was able to participate in were limited. Not at grandma's house though, every was different there. I had a nice comfy couch to nap on, a pool to swim in, a wooden treehouse-like playplace that my Grandfather helped build with my Dad, and I had her love and affection.
The way that she would smile when I ran inside with a soda from the fridge in the garage and hugged her was warm enough to melt the ice caps. This was truly a genuinely caring person that had a lot of heart for those in her life, and for a while in my life, I was her light. I was that source of "Oh my goodness, I have this grandson that gets great grades, has good friends and extra curricular activities, they're always ecstatic to be in my company, this is great!" for her. I loved being that, I wanted to make her prouder than both my parent combined. It wasn't ulterior, she just wanted to see me succeed, where others in my life only wanted to keep me away from a prison it felt like. She kept a garden of vegetables, and in my down time from enjoying her home, I would help her tend to it. This was a special time, because while the work seemed annoying or trivial at the moment, today I look back on that experience with so much adoration, that she would take this budding human being, and nurture them and educate them inside a living, breathing and growing ecosystem. She taught me to trim leaves and plant things, but she taught me much more than that throughout our connection. She would do sweet small things, like give me $20 for each A I had gotten on a report card, things like that, small rewards like action figures and the like, those kept me so motivated to push forward, for an amount of time.
The food though, was incredible. I use expressive words frequently like flipping pennies into a fountain, but there isn't a word that does that woman's cooking justice. The aromas that came out of her kitchen every night I was at her house were incredible. I'd come in from the pool or from rolling around in the grass with my Grandfather, or riding ATVs and dirtbikes with my Dad. She loved her Italian meals, many nights were spent excited for homemade tomato sauces and delicious spicy sausage. Breakfasts were more standard American faire, like eggs and bacon, toast and orange juice, fresh fruit. It always moade me feel like I had a home there though. This was incredibly important to me because my parents had divorced very early in my life, around two or three years old I think. She gave me a place I felt safe and loved, like I wasn't an object of contention or a possession to barter time spent with between two siblings. This was true until I was about twelve years old, when my relationship with my father, and my main link to my Grandmother, was fractured.
As things became increasingly tense with my father because I wasn't growing up in the direction he would have preferred, it became harder and harder to see her, and our connection became much weaker. Weekly trips to see her with him became sparse almost out of nowhere, and being terrible at keeping up with people in my immediate life, we drifted apart. I was a teenager at the time, my concerns weren't with keeping connections to loved family members, they were with playing video games and smoking weed. At that point my immediate family had lost almost any noticeable support for me, my choices or my life, I figured nobody in my family would. I regret this immensely today, because if I could have one more meal with my Grandmother, it would mean the absolute world to me. Insert very, very fucking real tears on my keyboard.
Our relationship devolved into her coming out to see me with my Grandfather once a year for my birthday. I think the last time I saw her was the weekend of my 21st or 22nd birthday. So in September of 2013-14, I really wish I could remember the particulars. She picked me up with my Grandfather as usual, and at this point I was willing to disappoint her a little to be honest with her, and asked if I could smoke a cigarette in her car, as I had been for years without her knowing. She asked me how long I had been, nodded at me and handed me a lighter, told me that it's a bad decision for my health, but it's my life and that she loves me. Our relationship was full of these kind of discussions, that let her inject her opinion of my actions, while still letting me grow in them with confidence. She told me similar things about competitive video games, and skateboarding younger in my teens. It was always received as "proceed with caution" not "that's a really stupid idea and I'm judging you for it" like it seemed from my Mother and Father.
We went out to eat at a cute place across the street from my Mother's house, and enjoyed a nice meal together like we always did, we talked about me dropping out of college, what I might want to do with my life moving forward, relationship interests, other hobbies I had been growing, which weren't many to be honest, I am very dedicated to the things I pick up. She gave me $80 for my birthday, and a very sweet card that I wish I still had in my possession.
In late 2014 my father contacted me to tell me that she hadn't been doing well and that she was in and out of the hospital recently, for cancer. I'm pretty sure it was lung cancer, clearly related to the pack and a half she smoked every day. I told him to keep me updated, and that I really wanted to come visit and see her. I didn't get to. Early 2015 I was told that she passed, I once again expressed my interest and concern for this situation, and wanted to attend the funeral. I was never given a date. In April of that year I was harassed and shamed in public, during a huge international scale vaping convention. This was early in my transition so I didn't know how to respond or stick up for myself, so I, like a spineless coward, let that dissolve and nothing came of it, I tried, the organizers didn't give a fuck about it. The community threatened to leak nude photos of me, this was before I was doing porn. My father called me to yell at me for not attending the funeral, that I was never given a date for. The topic of conversation turned into what I've been up to lately, and I told him about my transition and the event that happened. His reply was simply "What the fuck do you expect people to do? Look at what you're doing to yourself!" I told him off for guilting me over her death, and told him never to speak to me unless he has an apology, otherwise he could rot in the ground. I still haven't gotten that apology, and I never got to see my Grandmother in her last years.
Nancy was in my life a lot in my childhood, less in my teenage years, and as an early adult I didn't see her at all because of location, time, money and stress. I would like to firmly believe that she would not have had the harsh reaction to my transition that my Dad had. She would have taken an approach much closer to my Mom's, which was "Oh...okay, I don't get it, but I love you and support you even if I think it's a little weird" followed by sending me Hello Kitty pajamas and makeup for the next annual holiday. This woman cared about me and my wellbeing. She had no ulterior motive, she didn't care how I dressed or presented, she just wanted me happy, healthy, and growing.
I want her to know that to this day, she inspires me and the way I treat other people with generosity and kindness. That her spirit lives on in me and in my ventures and relationships with others. I'd like to think, that out of anybody in my family, that she would have been my largest supporter. I could have done more, but I loved her and understood her, and it was mutual. I hope that she forgives me for not being present in her last years, I feel incredible guilt over it, and writing this is a part of the process of coming to some sort of closure, I hope. I'll be sending this post to my father as well, and I hope that opens up some doors in his mind that he clearly can't see right now.
Thank you Steemit, for taking the time to read about this incredible woman, to help me reminiscence about the wonderful relationship I had with her. Hopefully, she's looking down on me and smiling, because if she isn't, that would crush me. I value her opinion and thought of me more than anybody else in my family, and I'm confident that she would be happy to see where I'm at right now, generating income and living independently away from a dead, drug riddled hick-town, to a metropolitan area where I'm thriving and starting to finally enjoy living again, when I was so close to the edge in recent years.
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