I just woke up. I roll over to check my phone. My grandma is dead.
She was a loud, boisterous, funny lady that loved card games, cats, bronzed shoes, and driving too fast. She was also a raging alcoholic.
I take a walk to think about what this means and to try and process losing her. Due to geographical location and reasons that felt good at the time, I never got to spend much time as an adult with my grandma. Missouri isn’t the easiest place to travel to, and your mid-20s aren’t the easiest place to leave.
Besides, spending time with her at Christmas and the random summer always felt strange. That she loved us, but didn’t quite know how. Whenever we were there, the plans always revolved around us running off without her to have adventures — my brother and I would go with my dad somewhere, she’d go with my mom somewhere.
I always thought it was that she didn’t enjoy spending time with us. Thinking back on it now, I'm realizing I was wrong. It wasn’t that she didn’t care about us or love us.
My grandfather was never around for my father. A terrible man, he left very early and didn’t come around much until my dad was 45. She raised my father and his sister alone in a time when the world wasn’t friendly to single mothers.
So growing up, when we would show up to spend time with her, she would spend her time making sure something important would happen. She gave up her time with us so we could have the time with our dad we needed; the time that she saw her own children miss.
Underneath her addiction, she loved us; we just weren’t old enough to figure it out at the time. Sure, she was a mean, old drunk. But she also loved card games and cats and us.