Monday, September 06, 2004

The Devil went Down to Georgia

# of times heard on trip: 2

# of family members pulled over by police on trip: 3

# of tickets given to family members by police on trip: 2

# of warnings received by family members by police on trip: 1 (I love being a blonde)

# of laughs on trip: bucket load

# of tears on trip: bucket load

As I said in my last post, my step-G was put in a nursing home on Thursday, and many of my family members were heading down to Southern IL to help my Grandpa for the long holiday weekend.

He found out that the nursing home didn't want step-G to have any visitors until next week, so that she could calm down and get used to her surroundings. Grandpa changed plans and asked us to meet him in Paducca (sp?) Kentucky, because more of our family is there, and he just needed to get away. He didn't want to sit in his house all weekend when he couldn't go see her.

We found out many horrible things last week, and I knew this would be an emotional visit, to say the least. One thing we found out was my step-G had been abusing my Grandpa. Her disease, actually was doing the abusing. She wouldn't know who he was, and she would just start beating on him.

My Mom had noticed bruises and things like that on my Grandpa, and he would always say that he fell or something like that. In truth, my step-G was beating the hell out of him. We came to find out this weekend that his last straw was when he woke up in the middle of the night, and she was standing over the bed with a rather large kitchen knife. This was when he decided to act, and he finally resolved himself to the fact that he could not take care of her anymore.

He is still far from fine with this, but he almost seemed like he had returned a bit to the man we all knew. You see, my siblings and I were very close to my Grandparents before my biological Grandma died. We continued to be close even with step-G, until about 10 years ago. Now that we have hind sight, we realize that a lot of the absence was because the Alzheimer's was starting it's vicious attack on my step-G's brain.

You see, about 10 or so years ago my Grandpa became more and more distant. There were times he would come north, see step-G's side of the family, and leave without ever seeing any of us. Did this make us angry and/or confused? You bet it did.

I spent way to many years being pissed off and not understanding what the hell was going on with him. I graduated college after a lot of hard work and even more of a struggle. He did not come to the graduation. My nephew graduated from high school. He did not come to the graduation. Babies were born, birthdays were missed, milestones forgotten or ignored by them.

My Mother finally snapped about 5 years ago. It was Easter, and my niece and two nephews received a package from them. This was a feat in itself, since they didn't even call them on their birthdays or act as if they even existed unless they were around them in person. When my sister opened the envelope, it had three cards in it, but one of the cards had a name on it that was not one of their names. It was step-G's great grandchild's name.

It contained a $50 bill. There were no bills in the two she got right. My Mother was livid. Not because she even cared about the money, but the priciple involved. My sister called step-G, and she acted like she didn't even know she sent anything. My Mother, in her best southern bell type voice declared that to be "Bullshit" (which, by the way, is a rarity from my Mother-saying a cuss word), and called my Grandpa.

This is when he started saying she wasn't right. She didn't want to be around us. She would only agree to go to her side of the family for visits. She would disappear on the farm for hours at a time, and when he asked where she went she would get all bent out of shape and say she hadn't been gone at all.

My Mom convinced him to get her to a doc and she was diagnosed with Altheimers. It has been a slow and steady decline since then, and I'm afraid we haven't been able to help out as much as we would/could/should.

I was pretty much out of the question. My step-G had become increasingly jealous of my biological Grandmother as her disease progressed, and just the site of me sent her into fits. My Grandmother, Mother, and myself are basically clones born generations apart. I guess my Mom had passed the age where step-G remembered my Grandmother, so she didn't bother her too much.

You have to remember that my biological Grandma has been dead for 25 years. The first time I seen her when she was really starting her downward spiral, around 5 years ago, she started yelling for me to get out of her house. My Grandpa tried to calm her down, but she was like, "I knew she'd come back for you. She's hear to take you away!" After much interogation, they figured out that not only did she forget my Grandmother had died, but she thought I was her. There was no convincing her otherwise.

It has been hard to see my Grandfather since then, and I really didn't see much of him the five years before that. Getting over the initial hurt is not easy. You realize that when he first started staying away was because he didn't understand the nature of the beast, and didn't understand why she was acting the way she was. It took me a long time to forgive all those lost years, even though I understand the reasoning behind it.

But then to lose 5 more because of what you look like? Sure, I would see my Grandpa, but it had to be planned when the family was around so someone could look after her. I tried to visit with her, but it always turned out the same: She thought I was my Grandma.

Step-G didn't exactly appreciate my parents or siblings helping either. I think it reminded her of how uncaring her own children were. They never offered help, except the one time I told you about in the last post. That's not exactly the kind of help anyone would ever want.

So they would try, my parents and siblings, to be as helpful as they could. My Mom tried to get them to move in with her, but she wouldn't do it. Grandpa actually got her down there once, and she hid in the closet. The police and everyone were looking for her for hours until my Father found her. She said she wasn't coming out until she could go home. My Grandpa caved and took her back to the farm.

Now she is in a place that will care for her properly. I don't know if I'll ever get over my initial hurt and anger I feel towards her, or the guilt because I know I shouldn't have any of those feelings at all. Probably out of all my siblings I was the closest to her. I was the youngest when my Grandma died, and my sister initially was none to please about my Grandpa's remarriage. Funny thing is, my step-G felt the most comfortable around my sister.

I guess I just need to process all of this information, and just deal with it. Wasted years, wasted emotions, wasted memories. I will just have to remember the good. I don't want to feel this way. The really bad part is when my family goes down again next weekend to visit her, I probably won't be. I don't think they'll want to risk upsetting her that much. I may never get to see her again.

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