I knew it was the holiday time and I am weird, but I enjoyed the smell of the smoke. It mixed in with the autumn smell and feel. There was nothing better than watching a small fire and drinking hot cocoa reminiscing about old days. Holidays at grandma and grandpa ’s house; Everyone was scattered. Some people sat at the dining room table and some sat on chairs and couches. Video games were played in the living room and the adults laughing and being giddy in the dining room by the tree. All of us grandchildren at a young age were waiting for just the right moment to bug our parents as we eagerly watched their plates and groaned when they wanted more to eat. We hopelessly watched as they ate their pie and cookies with milk and some dozed on the couch with their wives or husbands gently knudging them to wake up and watch everyone open gifts. Secret Santa was a game I looked forward to as a grown woman. Everyone watched tv or “ the tube, or talked about the memories that we had. Kids gathered around especially at holiday times like Christmas under the tree and gifts to be shared. The smell of apple cinnamon and pies /cookies desserts and amazing Chinese American food filled the house. In earlier days the fire place was lit and we all gathered around the fire. No one had places to go rather thant o be here with everyone and time stopped.
Grandma and Grandpa’s house was a place that we enjoyed and a mini vacation from our problems. It was a night that for kids that meant so much mostly for a competition until a certain point and not appreciation.
One of my favorite memories was dressing up and having my mom make my face up or wear curlers and the excitement of the smell of the heat, Christmas and winter. I remember the year that my grandma and grandpa would go with my parents to the Heathers and watch my old church choir sing and play hand bells and we would look at the trees. Comfort food although with grandma’s that was about every time we went over there and weight gain from eating so much and having a good time.
Even though we were part Chinese and some of us full blooded, we knew how to have a good time and our life at grandma’s was around a good home-cooked meal and quality time with our loved ones. I felt like an Italian and I’m sorry to stereotype. Food always made even the worse situations better.
As a young girl, grandma and I would often drink coffee and even still to this day I have the pleasure of doing it every now and then. We would enjoy an amazing dessert together and sit around and talk about things and laugh and cry together. Grandma was my second mom. Grandpa when he was alive would tickle me and he helped all the family out and community in various ways.
Even though grandma and grandpa weren’t famous, they sure seemed like it to me with their infectious smile and their romance. Even when the marriage was over a year old still when they were both together in later years you could never tell if it was day one or year 5. It was like an indescribable magic and I know that it took a lot of work and dedication to keep something growing and not dying , but they have always been an inspiration. Even with grandpa dead now physically, grandma and the way that she carries herself through life is still something that I am in awe with myself. I am often reminded of her strength when I want to quit. When things get tough and I don’t feel of worth.
Every year I think about what I can do for grandma that would mean so much and she isn’t a materialistic person. This year , of course, I have decided to make Christmas aside from God of course which is the main focus, be about her. I wanted her to experience memories that she would think about and be taken back to a time in her life where she could recapture meeting her soulmate and her best friend. I wanted her to smell the aromas and feel his soft skin in her mind almost to where it was a reality. Grandma and grandpa’s life is one that is truly remarkable and worth writing about.
Grandma, this is to you . For all those times that we talked about at the coffee table and joked about a story thinking no one would read, this is for you. This is thanking you and grandpa for being the role models I needed and have aspired to become in my life. Thank you for being the spirit-filled Godly representation of what a couple should be in life and in a marriage that is so revolutionary and life-changing. This is to you “ Love.” Let the eagles soar and us never to forget these cherished memories.
Happy Holidays grandma! I love you!
The smell of the exhaust fan always is clear in my mind. It runs up my nose into my brain. Smells and the sound of music. Through the exhaust fan I can smell my most favorite food in the whole world. The smell of Chinese food. The mood is joyous and bright . There is not a care in sight. Grandpa never cooked just one dish. He would always cook a lot. The smells that stood out in my mind were the ginger wings and he made them wet so that you could put the sauce on the white, fluffy rice. Mounds of delicious rice. I was and still am overweight, but I didn’t care. Live once , enjoy it and that is what I did. That’s what grandma always said too. “ I want the real thing no artificial stuff.” I piled it high proudly. It was the best stuff. You could even take cream corn and mix it in there. I felt like that was better than turkey on Thanksgiving. The sweet pork as we called it which is Cha shu was my second favorite. He used to tease everyone as he was cooking it and we all used to hate that he did that. I remember when they were asked to cook at our church in Pineywood College St. church. He used to tease then. In the end though, he always let me have just a little bite or a sample. He couldn’t stand to see me pout and he loved to tempt me. I guess he liked like a lot of people in my family do, to see someone upset and then make them feel better. Even now, I carry on the tradition and let my husband have just a bite of something when I’m cooking it especially if he loves it which drives him crazy. My favorite memories were all of us sitting around the table. Even when I was a pesky kid I didn’t like going outside much. I always enjoyed listening to the adults talk. I know it was none of my business to know about adult things as a child, but I was nosy and a lot like my dad. My grandma seemed to tell more to my dad because he listened. “ “ It was wrong of me too I shouldn’t have.” Sometimes my grandma would get upset with me because I was just a kid and I needed to go outside and play. I got mad at her and in my mind I said, “ You’ll see grandma I’ll stay out here for four hours.” She made it seem like I had to stay outside forever and it was her way of getting me out of the way, but Vitamin D is good and going outside very once in a while aside from drinking milk is the way to do it. In my mind I was just thinking that because she wanted me to see about losing some of my chunkiness even though she wouldn’t say it. I was always thinking about how it would be for me once I was out of my childhood and into my adult years and I was able to chime right in with them knowing what I was talking about. My most special memories were with grandma at the coffee table and we drank coffee and of course had some dessert. She always had dessert around. Of course, she always bragged that she couldn’t bake, but she was lying. She knew how to bake and just about everything that she made was excellent. I think my favorite top dishes for her were the apple struesal she made or chocolate dessert with the little bits of Heath bars in them. My favorite was to take chocolate syrup and put it on there. First I would heat the cake up though just a bit. The chocolate cake so it was like ea chocolate molten lava cake. Divine. When I was younger, when I would get upset about things I would go to my “happy place” which was sitting at the coffee table or in the living room with a cup of coffee, grandma and grandpa when he was alive and in the room with us and a nice fattening dessert with some vanilla ice-cream. Nothing could be better. Here was when we had our most cherished talks as well as some of the tough love talks that I later had in my young adult years. For example, of course going into a place of vulnerability, when I lost my virginity for the first time which I am not proud of because it was not done in the proper way, but my parents were so upset with me and they didn’t know how to handle things or what to say or do. I was at a stage where I was bragging about my behavior and they had a reputation to maintain and I clearly d id not have high standards or value in myself. At that age , there was really nothing that I kept private. If I even knew you a little bit I was sharing and probably too much. So, my parents decided that with my issues with promiscuity and other behavior that I needed to go speak with them and tell them about what I had done. When I walked into their house , I was quivering because I didn’t want to tell my grandparents. I told a lot of other people proudly, but my grandparents were old-fashioned. There was nothing wrong with it, but I thought so at the time. It’s just that they loved the Lord and it was their responsibility to tell me what I needed to hear whether I chose to listen or not. They were there to witness. In later years, I counted it as a God send and clearly it was needed and a wake up call for me. I remember sitting down at the table and grandpa was sitting on the left side because he was left-handed and grandma was sitting on the right. She was finished with her plate and she got up and I told her what my parents wanted me to do and I was there. I had a hard time talking and was literally speechless. I knew I had to tell them, but I was afraid. We moved into the living room because I knew it was going to be a long night. I was not going to be able to just not tell them and tell my parents I had . My parents wanted me to tell them all the details and not leave anything out. I was at that point extremely embarrassed as a young adult. Who has a talk about their sex life with their grandparents of all people who were “old-fashioned?” In a way , I guess it was the perfect punishment for me to see their reaction to the news that they heard. Their innocent, sweet granddaughter was no longer innocent and protected. They would know better. So I told them everything that went on in the past few months and my behavior. While they didn’t condone it, they did provide practical advice and they did support me. They looked at both sides of the situation. I was wise enough to take some of it and put it to use, but it wasn’t until I was in my 20s that it really seemed to make sense to me after my grandpa had passed away. Grandma’s house is where I felt like I was the only one that mattered for as long as I was sitting there and nothing in my life was more important . At least that’s the way it was early on. One day grandma and I were talking and she mentioned to me that it would be neat for her to have a story written about her life. I spent hours trying to figure out how to make it happen. I wanted this gift for her and I even thought that I wouldn’t be the one to tell it. However, I am one of the closet to her and feel honored as her granddaughter to attempt to write such a story. Today of all days. It’s November 14th 2016 and it has been 59 years of celebration even with grandpa in heaven of Grandma Betsy and Grandpa Carl. It’s times like these that make me reminisce about the way I see them in my mind as a young girl and wanting to have that “something special” everyday of my life when I got older. I remember grandma and grandpa as they were. He was the jack of all trades and she was his “Love.” Even at a young age they were exceptional role models as parents and as grandparents. Grandma Betsy lived downtown in a quaint little area called Piney Wood Forest. She was a petite little lady that packed one heck of a punch if you hit her the wrong way, verbally or physically. Don’t mess with grandma. Some of that Cherokee Indian fire would come out. The area is still there today where she grew up, but don’t go there late at night because it is definitely a different type of environment. Weird people go there at night and I know because I used to go there several nights as well for a “good time as a young adult.” Before the downtown area became bad grandma Betsy would go to the Beju when she had saved up her allowance as a little girl and would watch movies there. She also loved to go to the other movie theater when movies were only a quarter a piece. “ Those were the good ole days” , she smiled. Gas was a nickel and today it’s over $2.00. Now movies are about 15 for a couple to go and that’s without the popcorn and soda. Grandma Betsy would go help in the restaurant and talked about the days when she would go help in the tobacco field and pick the worms and how ugly they looked. Grandma spent her summers in Georgia with her family. She talked about that a lot and how she would take a Greyhound by herself. I did that when I was older myself , but much older and it was still scary especially encountering different types of people on the bus. I had to be very careful when I did this and the sad part is my parents only knew through a note on the table. I never called them and told them I was going to take a bus by myself halfway across the country I was just impulsive and did it without much thinking to what possible consequences that might be. I was young and stupid back then. I still am now sometimes, but not so much. Some of her wisdom, my grandpa’s and parents wisdom is ingrained into my brain now as a woman in her early thirties. When she was younger her dad was sober for two weeks and then an alcoholic for two weeks. “ He would be sober for two weeks and not for two weeks.” The job her dad had allowed him to be there when he was sober and his boss understood when he was not. Grandma always talked about her dad and how he always used to curse . You could hear him say “ Aw shit, Aw Fuck.” He would be banging around and then fall sleep and pee all over himself. “ My grandma and my mom told me never to get into the car with him when he was drunk . “I thought it would be okay. I ‘ve seen dad drunk a few times and even took him to the hospital and shaved him.” He couldn’t shave himself that way. He was schizophrenic. The last times that we were together we were in the car and it was near a ditch and that was the day my mom died. I was just a toddler. I believe my dad drank because he couldn’t accept the fact that he had killed my mother. My grandmother became a mother figure to me as well as my aunts. I did have other family like cousins to play with, but no mother. I often wondered what my life would have been like with a mother.” As a young woman I often thought that she hated the way my mom and I used to fight because she didn’t have a mom. I never understood the relationship with my mom until later on in life and also experiencing the death of a mother-in-law that was so dear to my heart. My mother -in-law was also an alcoholic and lost her life. Holidays are never the same and it is hard especially because I know how my husband feels around this time of year as he would often see my family and I gather together and having fun. It’ s hard for him to accept that , but he has because he loves me. Tensions grow in our family because certain people don’t like certain people and have issues, myself included. I have to not be that way because we are family, but when someone threatens your life like his sister Farrah did with us it ’s hard not to hold a grudge or when others under 18 think the world revolves around them and they are the boss of you it’s hard not to hold a grudge. Grandma’s house was no different once grandpa was out of the picture. We lost sight of the family that we used to be. Home is where the heart is, but my home is here still in Mountain View Valley , NC with my husband.
Grandma told me about how she helped her family at the restaurant. The first time she saw my grandpa was when she was nine years old. She was just a kid herself. She had no idea what she was going through, but she was a pesky kid who wanted to be around my grandpa. He didn’t want her to because she was too young and basically dismissed her. It didn’t bother grandma. She had her cousins Pearly and Stacy to spend time with and took like Jimmy under her wing. She practically raised him. They would go to the movies together. Grandma helped when she could at the restaurant. A little bit later on in her teen years she was quite the flirt. She was never tied down really to one guy and in today’s world even though there was no ring on her finger and she seemed like she was head over heels in love with one guy she had no problem dropping him like a dead habit if another good looking fellow walked by. Definitely different than in today’s society when people like myself would be exclusive with one guy or monogamous without a ring. Words were really important to me and still are to this day. It seems to me that I enjoy hearing “ I love you” a lot more than material things. I love the feelings of love like cuddling and being intimate and holding powerful conversations. Quality time is important to me, but if you asked me that about 12 or so years ago that was not my definition of love. That is because I was corrupted and manipulated into a fantasy life and one that couldn’t be lived as such. Once grandma became old enough she realized that Grandpa Carl had been on leave and was in his uniform and how incredibly handsome he was. He was slender and had cocoa brown eyes and dark hair. She always loved her men with dark eyes and hair. She made an excuse to go see him , but realized that he was with someone else. For a while they played “ hard to get. “ Finally, after some time they began dating. She got mad at him because he fell for her cousin Evelyn and then to get back with him she went steady with my uncle Jack. He was the exact identical to my grandma Carl. However, when uncle Jack wanted to have his way or in other words “take advantage of her” she wouldn’t have it and told him she didn’t want to have anything to do with him. Grandma and Grandpa would share hot dogs and a drink. That’s how things started. My husband and I began our courtship with a John Doe sub combo meal. As they progressed, she was of course scared to bring anyone home, but he showed up and she was ready to see him. He had come home from leave from the base in Point Peak NC, once again in his uniform. She could hardly stand it. She barely invited anyone over because she was ashamed of her dad and whether he would have had his delirium tremors from his withdrawals from alcohol or if he would be drunk. Grandpa understood all that. During the time they were dating, he took her to the restaurant and she had Chinese food . Most of which was great except for the shrimp eggroll. She hated the smell and the taste of shrimp, but like a good girlfriend tried to eat it and discreetly spit it out on her napkin. Shortly after that at the age of sixteen almost seventeen they decided to get married. They went to South Carolina to get married , but because grandpa didn’t have his birth certificate they came back to downtown Pineywood and got married at Justice of the Peace. There was no ring. They spent their honeymoon night with her grandma and then got up the next day and left for Yuma Arizona. Their marriage caused a stir because she was white/Cherokee Indian and he was full blood Chinese. She was petite and white. She definitely believed in looking great for her man. Lots of pictures that I saw of her she was in a nice dress had done her hair and also put on makeup. Some of the more wise advise I got from her was “ You should most of the time look good for you man. Don’t let yourself go because he may have wandering eyes.” I have taken that to heart and I try to look the best I can when my husband is around most days. I try to limit my t-shirt and sweatpants days to a bare minimum. He deserves to have a sexy wife all dressed up sometimes for no reason. I don’t think he will ever understand why I do that even when we are just at home and doing nothing, but he doesn’t have too I just want him to enjoy it. I remember Betsy telling me that Interracial marriages was definitely out of the norm and they broke the norm. This was back in the days of Segregation still. Yet even to this day in America there is more hate than there has been in the past. At least in the past things were settled differently even when there were differences. People have less hate for others especially the police and I hope that things don’t go back like they were now that we do have a President that is God’s man and for the Constitution. It’s pretty bad when you have separate water fountains one labeled for blacks and the other for whites and on buses people won’t let you sit near them because of the color of their skin.
Grandma loved to go dancing and modeling clothes for him. There were lots of pictures of her when she was younger when she would have a flirtatious pose in a very provocative dress. I believe she knew how to get just about any man’s engine revving and a lot of guys were in trouble. He was not a good dancer, but he would try. Grandma did not have much schooling, but she was still smart. She dropped out of high school in ninth grade , but don’t let that fool you. She still had quite the smarts both street and book smarts and she could cook. Don’t ever get her mad or she would have some of that Indian blood come out of her and she would put you over her knee, figuratively of course. Grandpa had dropped out of school and was helping his family at their restaurant . During this time no one ever said the word sex let alone the word pregnant. “ I am so grateful for your grandpa and his patience. He told me to wait , but all those times that he was standing there with his hands in his pockets. This was something he had told me later on when we were married because I told him he helped me to behave myself. It was a constant struggle to try to behave alone because I wanted your grandpa and I wanted him badly.” I knew exactly what she meant. There were times believe it or not that I experienced the same thing at a young age with guys I dated. I didn’t know the reasoning behind it until she told it to me. There wasn’t much sex education during this age and grandma had no idea what birth control was , what the word abstinence meant or the use of a condom for him. “ Every time he hung his pants up we were pregnant. We had our kids like a stepladder all four of them except for Larry he was the last one and we weren’t really expecting his arrival. “Later in life, when my kids were older your grandpa would try to seduce me of course and I would give in and sometimes rarely would I say no. It is not wise to withhold from one another.” Yet I remind my husband of this all the time. “ Your grandpa used to pout with me when I wouldn’t give in.” I find myself the same way with my husband because I am the one with a more desired need to be intimate and feel his touch and all that and he likes more of the cuddling. “ I love all of my kids and glad we had them this way” as I looked up and watched grandma smile. That’s part of what marriage was and the sex part. Procreating and being fruitful and multiplying.” Now, kids learn sex from their friends. It’s no wonder that kids are so confused. Even though I was able to have a talk with my mom about it because I told my dad honestly up front that I was uncomfortable talking to him about it, I was still embarrassed as a 12 year old girl. I didn’t know what the monthly cycle was. We had this long talk about it and we vowed we would never discuss it again until we had gone to a seminar for my genetic disorder Tuberous Sclerosis and then it was decided that the birth control pill would help me with some things medically. Since I was too young to make these decisions, my mom mostly made those for me. At the young age of 16 I was already on birth control which for me even though it was for medical reasons made sex okay even though it really wasn’t. My parents didn’t exactly set the Godly example because they “slept” together before they were married. I didn’t do it because they did it, I did it because my mom told me that if I loved someone enough and was comfortable enough to expose that side of me that I could . To me, that was granting me permission to open up my heart and my body and actually when I was younger it was nt’ a lot because I loved the person , it was because I wanted it and how it made me feel. So even from a young age I was steered in a direction, instead of her following guiding principles. She allowed the guys to come over and I still did things. I know that plenty of times grandma has mentioned that if it was me and I was at her house that would not have happened. I don’t really like bringing up my personal life into this matter, but they really did help me see and fortunately I got into a better habit and broke the cycle of that happening. Their influence meant a lot to me more than anyone could ever now. Also, for entertainment with the allotment check that she got and his pay which wasn’t very much they were able to get a bucket of chicken or go to the drive in movie. I think about that a lot of times in my own marriage and even tell my husband that it doesn’t matter how expensive something is to have a good time. He doesn’t have to spend a lot of money on me . It doesn’t define the love that he has for me or I for him. It just matters about the time we have together, but he has a hard time understanding that sometimes. I guess it’s just who he is. As a young woman myself at the teenage age I always loved hearing certain parts of her story because it inspired me. It gave me something to look forward to. Now my perception of sex and how it had hurt me a lot in the past was not something that I took from her story. That was my own fault. Had I to do this all over again I would have waited until I had met my wonderful husband Breydan to have made love the first night as husband and wife instead of during our dating phase. So right from the beginning they set the foundation that grandma would stay at home and watch the kids and Carl would go to work. At the time he was working at the restaurant during the day and getting his GED at night since he dropped out of high school. He was raised to take care of his family. Now it was time to put his family first. In my serious dating years and my first major relationship with the father of my biological son , Shawn, I really wanted to emphasis putting family first. He did work side jobs which was great and I understood it. He was a hard-working man, but it wasn’t the whole package. I felt like nothing was good enough and as bad as I tried not to I did compare relationships with marriages even though relationship like a significant other is different than a marriage.
Grandma is the type of lady that provides southern hospitality at her finest. She wants to make sure her house is perfect when you come. Even when we were little. I was always there just out of the cradle , but my distinct memories were from about five on up until now as a 32 year old woman. You walk into the house and the smell of poppuri or lit candles, along with the smell of breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Sometimes for my cousins and I it was the smell of all three. Grandma graciously gave her all in a lot of things and still does to this day. Even in the early days when they had to pinch pennies. I remember when my uncle Larry wanted to have a couple of friends over grandma and grandpa did most of the work and the only thing they didn’t have was a big bag of chips and some sodas and my aunt Trish and uncle Kevin provided those for him to have a great birthday. You could hear them all night having a blast on the drums and guitar.
I rarely knew my grandma and grandpa to fight. Just about everything they did they would do together. Before it was Northside and was Murray , grandma and grandpa were head of the kitchen committee. They would cater to certain events . Grandma would come up with fantastic desserts and grandpa cooked a lot of good food. Even at home, when he was tired he made time to cook hamburgers and home cooked straight fries, fried chicken which was some of the best chicken you could ever put in your mouth because it melted like butter and of course his Chinese food. He loved nothing better than to make up a small sample of Pepper steak and Cha shu or Hum Baugh which was home made bread and pork. He made a lot of other dishes as well. His eclairs were not bad either. Grandpa loved food and it was his passion. Grandma and grandpa worked well together as a team. If they fought, they fought in the bedroom. My uncles never went without and grandma always spent money my grandpa would give her on the kids and never on herself. He used to get mad at that. It’s funny how grandpa used to tell me how she knew he was making up with her when they had a fight. He would come and wrap his arms around her and ask her if she wanted a snack or a Coke. He knew that she loved ot have a good fountain drink with crushed ice. In later years, her favorite thing to do was to go to the Goodwill, the Mission Store and Vintage Values and look around with no one bothering her. She even told me intimate details of how he was with intimacy and that he wanted it all the time and she did not and he would pout. Grandma was one to hardly let it out , but there were a few times she cleared the air. I think about that now in my own life with my husband and our views especially on intimacy because it is the other way around too for us. I wanted my husband to be the one to want sex and love me and the whole nine yards, which we are intimate, but it’s not all about that for him. For a while, I did struggle with that, because I saw that in my grandpa and I saw how well they both were even when grandma said she had to just let him because you shall not withhold from your spouse. Aside from that, Grandpa and his “jack of all trades “ motto would look at the Rescue mission’s old computers and try to fix them. In return, we got discounts on some things in the store as a favor. Sometimes as a kid I wondered why we were getting some of the stares we were at the checkout counter with the clothes we got that people knew cost them more money, but it was okay. Sometimes things weren’t meant to be shared and just enjoyed. He would always make up his eggrolls for some people and they would pay him for it. Now I am one that continues the tradition, but not all the time with the eggrolls. I cook Chinese food quite often and I have sold a few of my eggrolls. My parents eggrolls come very close to his. A few of us in the family still carry on the tradition of eggroll making and Chinese cuisine. One of my favorite things is to get a wok and hear the sizzle on it before putting the vegetables and meat into the stirfry. Cooking for my husband and in the past other family members has been a way I show my love and appreciation for them, but that is how I have been raised. I was raised with good old-fashioned values, whether I chose to obey all them was a different story. I guess I just chose to flush them out when I was a kid and young adult. The extra money made from the eggolls were for my uncle’s and also the grandkids extra Christmas gifts during the hard times. The times when they had to pinch pennies. Perhaps some of the greatest memories that I have had of my grandpa was when he was under the hood of the car or in the garage burning the midnight oil playing Tetris or practicing singing or cooking. Holidays were so amazing because not only did the smell of food get my stomach growling, but time stopped. It didn’t matter that we spent six hours at their house because we were laughing and telling stories and eating. It was a happy place. Grandpa especially at Thanksgiving was head of the table and Grandpa didn’t really express and interest of singing until he wanted to join the choir at church once my uncle had been to seminary and he became the pastor of Murray and then later Northside. I watched my grandpa change in so many ways from the man that he used to to the man that he became. He had God’s help. Grandpa was a family man and a community man. It seemed like almost everyone knew him. Grandma was highly spiritual. She began wearing her Jesus scripture and really getting into “ The Word” the Bible. She prayed daily and was involved with church. I watched her talk on the phone and how soft of a voice she has. She does still to this day. She may have someone there and be firm, but she can turn right back around and sound as if nothing happened. My uncle has even mentioned that from the pulpit. Grandpa was not saved, but he would be in time. There were things in the past, grandpa swore and kept magazines that weren’t appropriate at times and grandma told him that was not ever going to happen. After a few years grandpa came to know the Lord and they began to serve. They were both walking in their faith with God forever. Grandma, who was used to being a stay at home mom only had to adjust to living in a life style that worked then and go into one that was more tough when she decided to help him with his jobs at the shops that he had. Grandma was the lady that had tea in the pitcher at all times, coffee perking in the coffee pot, her pots sizzling if she knew you were coming , and clean clothes with a meal ready on the table when everyone got home. Snacks were provided for the kids and she was there to greet them when they got home from school. Her kids never had to wonder where she was. Grandmas was the neighborhood spot for the neighborhood kids because they knew they were going to get fed. Going to work was definitely different for her, but she wanted to help out and do what she could. I remember the first experiences of that vaguely.
When I was younger, my parents were involved a lot with church and also at worked. There were a lot of summers that I stayed with my grandparents and my mom and dad would pay them to feed me and take care of me because I was t here for such a long time. Some nights I got lucky and was able to just spend the night over there with them. I believe my first experience of seeing them work together was when my grandpa first opened Carl’s Tv repair. Grandma was going to work from home. I was only about six or seven. All I really remember was at the time my cousin Matt had been born and grandma was watching him and trying to work in the office as well. During that time grandma would have frequent visitors and my cousin Matt was only a couple weeks old. So, when this lady came in to see her she saw my cousin Matt and my grandma had told her not to hold him because she had just put him down and went to sleep. She went off to check something in the kitchen and came back and all you could hear was crying. She was so mad. Grandma was petrified of working even from home because she had never done that before. One thing she really didn’t like was answering the phone and dealing with rude customers, but she had no choice. It was part of the job and she had to build a backbone. I can definitely relate to that because I’ve had to do that myself in the kind of work that I do for a living. She had never handled bills or wrote a check. Grandpa had to show her things just like when he was alive he showed me. Thank goodness he was there. Then about five years old I remember when they had the appliance shop on King’s street and it was a busy place. My few of my uncles worked with him. My grandpa taught his sons how to work on appliances and they also knew how to work on cars. They would go out on service calls and I would stay with my grandma a lot of time sin summer and after school. Grandma babysat all my cousins and I in the summer and a lot even during school when we were sick. We always had to watch tv and we couldn’t get up and do things. If we were sick we were sick. I’m not going to lie. Sometimes I did fake being sick just so I could get out of school and maybe not have to take a test that day or deal with peers in not doing well in kickball or in gym. As a senior, even when I was given permission to leave class early by my band director my mom questioned me because I never ate when I got home. I had been fed by grandma. Grandma and grandpa no matter where they were or who they were in contact with were just that. That was their identity and how everyone knew them. Both made sacrifices, like grandpa not wanting a dog, but Turbo was outside the store. Grandma and grandpa took him everywhere when they went on trips to the VA when grandpa’s health got bad and also when family members passed away and they had to go Georgia or other places . Grandma, giving up complete housewife only work and working outside the home. To them though, that was what they loved and it was clear that no two people were better together. I’m reminded of the song “ So Happy Together. You and me and me and you , no matter how we toss the dice , it has to be, the only one for me is you and you for me so happy together. I think about them every time I hear that song.
When I think about all of us together, my grandpa, my grandma and I, I remember things like the sleepovers and the forts that we built. I remember Saturday morning cartoons when there were better cartoons than there are today. Grandma of course cooking whatever our little hearts desired even if one wanted a fried egg and one wanted a scrambled, french toast or waffles. Grandma used to make rice and eggs a lot , but I didnt’ too much care for egg in the hole. It would make me gag or grits with fried eggs. My favorite breakfast was cinammon toast, fried egg and toast. I loved using the yolk to sop up the egg yolk. One of my other favorite memories was going on trips like Washington D.C and seeing all the historical things even though at that time I wasn’t too much into it. I liked the trip to Georgia because it was way from my house. It made me forget about when I terrorized my dog Diogi and he ended up biting my lip because I was dumb enough to pour water on him. I guess I would bite too if someone did that to me.
At the holidays grandma and grandpa would always team up and work together in the kitchen. They were always in sync, always united and a lot of times I felt like I was living in a dream when I was at their house. I had to pinch myself a few times. I remember as a little girl especially an older woman in middle school and high school and often in school seeing different views and hearing different views on what life would be like once I reached full independence and dreamed of meeting a man like my grandpa. Some skills I learned from my grandpa was to “ Fake it till you make it” and I also gained value insight on how to apply for jobs and to be productive employee. I always heard that women typically marry men like their dads. In my case, that is true to a degree, but my husband is a lot like my grandpa in a lot of ways especially now and his mannerisms. I am so thankful for him in my life as well, but I have my grandparents to contribute to that.
Our old church was always about that. They always encouraged the youth to do things like helping out with community projects, mission trips or even doing the acolyting in the church. At my uncle’s church now the students have a restaurant called Cafe Young’s where they earn money toward their trips and things they need. My grandpa would have been so proud of them. I believe him and my grandpa were the ones that inspired Cafe Young’s. They used to do some of the cooking until it got really big and grandpa passed away and before he actually did because it was too much. I know my grandpa would be smiling down in heaven now just beaming at the progress.
AS far as my family members and my marriage, I know that people in my family thought that I “ just settled” for someone , but I didn’t. My husband can tell you I dumped him four times before I was smart enough to realize what I would have lost. My dad was actually one of the ones that talked sense into me. I needed someone for myself as well as my son and I did love him and still do. There is no other man in my life that completes me like he does me. We have our moments, but for the most part we love each other, not always like, but love. My husband is a lot like my grandpa and my dad and he has been the primary breadwinner most of the time except for the summer. Even then he finds creative ways to be able to help make ends meet for us and I know he would do whatever he had to do to make things happen. I see him become more like my dad and grandpa everyday as he becomes older. He has definitely grown emotionally a lot in the past few years and I am so thankful for that as his wife. The support and mannerisms that I have seen in earlier years by my grandparents are outwardly displayed into our marriage. We both support each other and are there and equally involved with a lot of things. I respect my husband and I submit to him after God of course as my number one man and he appreciates me as his wife and provides me the security I need which is one of my number one concerns in life as a woman. Sometimes I need reassurance, but most of the time I know things are okay. Don’t get me wrong, grandma and grandpa have had their times, but it has been few, just as there have been things that have gone on with my parents and other family members and myself and my husband. We have had some trying times as well and most of them haven’t been things we have been able to control. Some of our greatest challenges were when we began seeing Bradley, my son sometimes in the summer. My husband has never had any biological kids of his own so because he loves me he accepted both of us. Even though we don’t see Bradley all the the time, the first few times we saw him together we had a new experience of acting as a family. A triangle the three of us. Creating that positive experience was a little trying at first because I know my husband was scared. During these times I was upset because the only thing I felt was upset. At that time even though I loved my husband, I wouldn’t be lying if I didn’t regret not working things out with his biological dad and not loving him, but there was nothing I could do to change that and it was the wrong reason to even be with his dad. I was grateful that Brayden was there. I just had to let him adjust and allow him to go through feelings that I didn’t really like. He wasn’t prepared emotionally to be a dad because of things in his childhood. There were memories he had not all were bad. We both helped each other through that time. When I had a miscarriage our marriage was a a little shaky because he still wasn’t ready and all those times I was in the hospital with surgery after surgery I know it mentally damaged him to a degree because he was scared and worried I wouldn’t pull through. During the surgeries I kept thinking of both of my grandparents strength for each other whenever things would happen. Somehow after we got through the valley it was easier. It wasn’t just thinking about them, but I had to not be mad at God. I was. I was mad because I had things taken away. I had part of me removed in so many ways, not just my female parts, but a child that I didn’t get a to feel a heart beat, a dad’s hand that I loved so much that would go over my belly and get to feel the life that we created together. An image of me feeding a baby on my chest through the natural beauty of gift given breast milk and quality cuddling time. I was mad at God for not allowing me to have a baby. I was mad because I felt the life and at the same time was blessed that I had a dream of seeing that life and what that baby would have been. The innocence and the life that I saw the movement that I knew that if I had carried this child to term may have had severe issues medically and it would definitely cause strain on us. God knew what he was doing. I was so scared and upset with myself that I hadn’t done things right. I kept my pregnancy a secret and the tumor I had was life-threatening. While I had the choice to be able to not have the hysterectomy and maybe try to conceive later it would have been riskier. Of course, decisions like this included my husband , but every year I would get older my chances of conceiving would be less and it was a chance that I would have to go through all of this again. So, I had the hysterectomy chose not to have hormone therapy because I still had one of my ovaries. Thank goodness the malignancy was in situ, basically just located in that one area and we got it before it spread. The whole process was so scary. I didn’t really like my mom in these moments because she wouldn’t let me go to the reproductive session for Tuberous Sclerosis and she never shared anything so when I became an adult I had to find out first hand. I felt like grandpa, a pin cushion evey time I would go in. From the span of 2009 to 2015 I had 5 surgeries. The first one was my tubal ligation. The doctor thought I wanted to have more babies so they didn’t do the permanent sterilization. Later this would cause a problem. Then was my gallbladder and I had two surgeries with that the first to remove the stones and then the second they had to go back in and get the other stones they didn’t think they got. The third one was my knee surgery and I had to have two with that an arthroscopic surgery with the laser and then an open distal tibia surgery because my whole kneecap was misaligned. Now I have screws in my kneecap to hold it in place. It should be fun when I go on the airline when they ask about metal in your body. Then of course the last one was my hysterectomy. I hated that because I lost my female parts except an ovary and on top of that every day I had to get a shot in my stomach or in my arm. They rotated places. I remember hearing the words that I dreaded and glad we didn’t have the money to afford the shot because it was scary. Either I was going to have to be the one to give myself the shot at home for three weeks because they were worried about my blood clotting, or my husband was going to have to. He had been a CNA 2 so I told him he could do it. He did a great job. I just didn’t like the needles. It was bad enough before I went into surgery it was one of the last things they did. The doctor added one more thing. I thought I’d be lucky and just get the conscious and general anesthesia. In the past two surgeries I’ve actually woken up from what they have said and they put me back to sleep. In the knee surgery the steak dinner I had came up. I thought about grandpa and wishing he would have been right there, but he was. I didn’t doubt it at all. I was lukcy I didn’t have to have chemotherapy and we decided we were going to focus on preparing ourselves to have Bradley in our life permanently because that I what he is wanting now as a tween himself. For a while I suffered from depresion and gained weight because I felt less of a woman , but my husband made me realize that I wasn’t. We are satisfied with being parents to one child. We have so much love for ourselves that even bringing a child into the world that isn’t him wouldn’t be right and it’s more comforting for my husband that way. Even though grandma and grandpa never had that happen, I still was reminded how they handled times of trouble and I tried to react the same way and that is what has come across to him. I’ve learned proper communication through them as well and even though we fight , it’s a different fight. It’s more like disagreements and compromise on both of our parts.
Things were good for a few years until grandpa had his heart attack. I don’t remember the first one because I wasn’t even born yet I don’t believe, but I do remember grandma telling me about it. He was out on the boat helping the boys fix it and he went to lift up a jack hammer and he had a heart attack then. Things weren’t really that bad the first time around from what I heard. The second heart attack stuck out in my mind. When you’re young, you don’t really think too much into death and people are always invisible to harm. I saw that with my grandparents. I even saw that with my family, uncles, aunts, cousins and my parents.
When grandpa had his heart attack when I was eight years old back in 1992, I was aware of it, but nothing really phased me because I knew that he was going to be well. I was with him when he recovered. I saw him breath through the spirometer he had to take home with him. When he had his heart attack in 1992, he was diagnosed with diabetes and also congestive heart failure. I saw him at his weakest and still trying to please everyone. I was just a little girl and no matter what he was grandpa to me. He was the grandpa that I sat on the lap of at Christmas with my doll and a smile on my face. No one could take that away from me.
Grandma and grandpa were different. It took me a while to understand and it was a long journey. There were certain ones in our family that chose to not let us see them or their family very much and it bothered my grandpa. They had to chose the right time to go see them and grandma told him that. Aunt Kim and Uncle Darryl were different people. They didn’t want to interact with the family. I’m not exactly sure what happened. It hurt grandpa because he was a family man.
Our family life was fairly centered around food and the dinner table. It’s where we came and forgot out the reality of our real lives. Families that struggled financially and in their marriages. Challenges with kids were often swept under the rug at grandma’s , or the opposite were discussed so that different solutions could be used. I saw a man that after his second heart attack was barely hanging on. He kept trying. Grandma often told me how hard it was for them with intimacy as well because he felt like he as no longer a man because of the medications that he took and how they made him feel to be able to create that feeling. I am a woman who married someone who is overweight, but not diabetic that I know of. I don’t exactly say it, but we’ve addressed low testerone and how he has wished things were different, but you love someone how you love them no matter what so it was and is still okay with me. I get it. I understand the way his body makes him feel about himself. I’m overweight myself , but I have lost weight so I know what it is like to be in your “birthday suite” in front of the one that you love and hope that they love what is in front of them.
A once happy family now came to grandmas to discuss their issues, hide in their phones and watch television. Holidays were still about eating, but people were sensitive and even then it was telling jokes to try to hide pain. After the holidays secret times with grandma to discuss marriages and how they were falling apart. After Christmas of the year of 2004, the last Christmas that I truly remembered everyone being happy , I saw things in a whole different perspective.That was the last year that Thanksgiving was good as well. One year no one said anything and Thanksgiving became a time when people left early and came for the food because we were all avoiding each other and that was not the way that things should have been.
Grandpa took his sons into another room that Christmas and basically told them how to care for grandma when he passed away. Even before he knew the time was coming, he had prepared himself. No one knew what was going on. Ricardo, Edwardo, Larry, uncle Darryl, and Jack looked like their eyes were hard as glass as they came out, but couldn’t talk. It was not to be discussed until it happened. From then on I saw a difference in my dad and how things were. I knew something was wrong and he couldn’t say. He told them everything they needed to know.
Once grandpa got really bad, grandma had began taking care of the bills and sending them out. She would take out her composition book and write things down as they would go out.
Its’ a system she did at the office as well. As bad as grandpa felt, he still would make her coffee and bring it to her , take her out when his gout didn’t act up and also cook special little “batches” of things for her to enjoy. He began calling her his love. It was harder for me to see just how long and the strength as well as dexterity it took to make the food. One of my uncles and his wife and family got one of his last meals. Then I was jealous because I wanted it to be me so I could tell him thank you. I wondered if grandpa ever felt embarrased because my grandma had to in some ways act more like the man than she should have been, but then again I think back in my family how my mom was the one that handled the bills but it didn’t make my dad any less of man for it. It was who was financially smarter to make the money decisions. In our house for the most part, he does the budgeting.
I know that part of the reason I had began to go down the path I chose was because I was thinking about what grandma said jokingly about picking at caskets for her and having him on top of her. I thought it was funny , but there was truth to this and how they would be dressed. It was uncanny how grandma had seen the two eagles crossing each other on the casket. Everyone that heard grandma’s eagle story knew what that meant. It always brought goosebumps to our necks and made the hair on our arms stand straight up. As a young woman, I had gone from enjoying family vacations that we took with my grandparents and dinners we would eat at our house or theirs and the fellowship to becoming someone I was not. Shortly after grandpa got really bad, I had become really involved in work and also leading a double life. I hit a spot when my parents were really struggling and I began rebelling. I had been protected for so long by them that I had not experienced a lot of things. I was stubborn and hard headed and I was going to experience them.
Before grandpa passed away, I became so involved with myself and I thought the world revolved around me. I had began having a few one night stands and I just didn’t have much self-worth. My parents didn’t pay much attention to me, but I did scream for alone time and I didn’t want to be bothered. My attitude could cut you like a knife. It wa sbad that people that weren’t usually afraid of me were. I think my own parents were. I was even afraid of myself. At this point in my mind I was suicidal and bi-polar. I took a lot for granted. I was afraid and I was scared. I didn’t think about my grandparents and what they were going through and how the following events would create the dynamics of the family. I was a college kid when I wanted to be, a bar crowd and rowdy woman and was dating all the wrong guys and having a “good time.” I was causing my parents reputation in the community to go bad and I was on the verge of getting kicked out of my own house. My parents made me go to my grandmas and talk to them about the things that I had done. I was in fear of them, but they listened and provided their own experiences.
Work, dating, and listening to music was isolating me from the fact that I had seen my grandpa get worse and downward spiral in two weeks time. We would go to church and he would sometimes faint and he was so weak. One time my uncle got in the car and drove him to the hospital instead of waiting on the ambulance. I had to look away. I couldn’t stand it. It was definitely tearing me up inside. His gout was really bad. Finally, one day a lady suggested cayenne pepper. Grandma was very leery to have him take it, but they had tried everything. He started slow. The cayennne started working and it helped give grandpa life as well as God. Grandpa had six more years and he became the man that he used to be for quite a while. The doctor hadn’t given him that long to live because he had almost every artery blocked from plaque. I hated needles and there were days that I would sit there and watch my grandpa test his blood sugar and choose what finger to prick each time. He had to change fingers. I watched as he had tried the pump to just automatically inject him when he needed some insulin to survive. I saw him get four shots a day and the pills he took just to stay alive in addition to God’s strength and continual watch over his health. In a way it prepared me mentally for so much more at a young age and even thinking about my own health , I had a different perspective than most teenagers my age. I had been to Florida and helped with mission work repairing a roof and enjoying the kids that were over there. Some of them didn’t have money for medical equipment and even realizing what little they had really shed light on some things. Grandpa was my second dad. This was the man that taught me how to drive a car from a computer with a program he bought, a guy that spent several hours with me recording my flutist ability , and teaching me life skills such as saving money at a young age and filling out applications. He inspired me to “fake it till I make it.” There was not anything that wasn’ t in my reach and that was his mentality. Even as a little girl and going to grandmas house I thought they had everything, but they had just enough and they were happy. It really helped to define who I was as a teenager and later on in my late 20s and 30s my identity and role model at this age. Life is different and ever changing in a good way and it’s nice to know that grandma and grandpa helped with this because there would have been a time that my parents had no idea what in the world to do with me and my behavior even as an 18 year old woman.
Life was really good for a while, but I was still doing my own thing. In my mind I wasn’t really thinking too much about my family because I felt like my parents let me down in seeing how they were reacting to their marriage. I rarely saw them hug anymore or kiss or close and lock the door which I knew what that meant. All I heard was arguing when they were home, him sleeping upstairs and trying not to let me know, leaving the house before she got up and discussing whose names would be on the Christmas gifts. I saw my mom working two jobs one part and one full and going to school which was part of the problem and my dad burying himself in to tv and working when he could and doing whatever jobs he could. I was trying to escape myself. I still tried to make time to see them, but I cared more about the boys than I did being with my grandparents. I was selfish. I’m glad I didn’t know everything that went on behind the scenes and I didn’t want to. I think that would have made me rebel that much more I remember the days that unfolded like they were yesterday. I had left Jack Hammer burgers after quitting a few times and also my cashiering job at Super Value and gotten a job at Burnett’s Burgers. I loved the staff there and my shift. I worked 7 -3 and I had weekends off. My mom and I shared a car because they couldn’t afford to have me in a car and I couldn’t afford it either. I was still trying to get my life back on track.
Now I see my parents marriage and for the most part I want to be like them, but grandmas and grandpa’s stuck out. They never split up even though they may have thought about it and they got through things, unless some people in my family for whatever reason. I am not one to point a finger. Things were more stressful as August 31, 2005 came.
They hadn’t been back from the Va very long. It was the longest two weeks of his life. The suffering. He was going to be facing dialysis because his kidneys were not functioning very well. Every time we had heard a good reading about his kidneys we rejoiced. I know that he didn’t want us all to see him hooked up to a machine . That was not grandpa. Grandpa did not live by being hooked up to a machine. He lived his life and pretty soon it was going to come to an end just the way that he wanted it to peacefully and everyone finding out afterwards so they couldn’t try to stop him from passing away.
One day, August 31, 2005 to be exact, during transition time from breakfast to lunch, I saw my mom standing there with her hands in her face , hair all a mess and what looked like as if she had been crying. All I had to do was look at her and I reached for her. “ Is it grandpa? Yes. He passed away today. I had nothing to say I was so speechless.The day of his death was so traumatic for me and everyone else. Each of us dealt with it differently. Mom and I drove in silence as we went to Evergreen Hospital. I hated hospitals. The smell of sterility and images of vaccines even though it wasn’t a doctor’s office and I wasn’t getting one. I still had bad memories of times when I would go hide in the bathroom and of course it wasn’t long before my mom would always work her magic to get me to come out or I would pass gas out of nervousness especially when the nurse would come near my hip or my butt with a needle. Are you kidding me? I could smell the sickness. I never wanted to be in there that long. We made our way to the front door and my uncle Darryl was walking by himself with the Bible in his hand. I know that it had to be hard for him because he of course was close with his dad working along side of him. It was hard for us all. However, him being a minister was even more difficult because he would be the one at the visitation, performing the funeral and seeing his father be buried in the ground physically. I guess it prepared me later one when I had near death experiences and heard my dad talk about his near death experience as well as witnessing my miscarriage and my son that had a close call with death a few times. What does that do to someone? I know another person that was having a hard time was grandma Betsy. When we finally got there Bob and his wife Kaitlyn were there and he was head of pastoral care. They were childhood sweethearts, but also family friends and knew my grandpa Carl for a while. We went into the room and I saw my grandma there. They only allowed a few of us in at a time. My dad was in there with us as well. I know he was trying to make sure my grandma was handling it okay. Anyone that has experienced a death knows that it is not okay . Even though you see the signs of death and try to prepare for it, it’s not any easier. I remember going up to my grandpa and seeing him laying on the bed. It looked like he was in a deep sleep. It didn’t really hit me until I didn’t feel him move, his lips were blue and he was cold. I can’t explain what it’s like to feel a dead body. It had me on edge. A wave of emotions flooded me at one time. I was trying to stay composed. I had no idea how badly things really were. I wasn’t the one that had seen him die first hand. I knew I had to be strong for my family and that is how grandma felt also. That morning my grandma knew something was going on, but she didn’t say anything to my grandpa. It was the typical morning. Grandpa got into the car and backed the car up where he could pull driving forward out of the driveway. Their driveway was busier now compared to 20 years ago when no one knew the road existed. Now everyone used the road it seemed. He backed out and waved and told her if he wasn’t busy he would call or he would come home and eat lunch. Grandma was expecting a call and she always took her phone out into the yard. Grandma loved to work out in the yard and stay busy. It was boring sitting around and made her feel lazy. Into the day around the normal time she received two calls. The first from grandpa telling her he loved her and he would see her later. She was going to change when it came closer to time when he would be home, but then she got a second call and this one was from my uncle Larry. My dad Ricardo and Larry had witnessed my grandpa Carl’s death. The coroner had confirmed that he had had a silent heart attack. He had passed away at his desk. That morning he was working on the computer like he always was. It was in his plan that he didn’t want my grandma to see him suffer and to die. It was that one last call that she got and wasn’t expecting and instead of getting ready for him to come back home she was dressing to go see him at the hospital. Her dead husband at least in spirit, but she was comforted because he was going to be with the Lord in spirit. It didn’t seem like I got much sleep that night. As soon as the visitation was over which was about 3 and half hours, we came home went to bed got back up and then went to the funeral at 11. I was decided that I would play my flute at the funeral. I was the only one playing. I barely made it through the song. The casket was up on top of the alter with the eagles on the top a symbol of peace every time one would fly above the sky and a flag placed over the coffin because he was a veteran.
In addition to the funeral, we now had to go to the burial. Part of me didn’t want to do this because I already had a hard enough time accepting the fact that grandpa was truly gone and not coming back physically. I went and sat through the burial and cried when he got put into the ground. He was placed next to Paul , who I would later find out was the husband of a guy that I had dated in my past. Later on I would find out when I would go with my other “mom” to see her husband Paul. It was definitely hard watching him be put in the ground knowing that he would never physically be on this planet again. It was hard knowing that I was going to be without the man that was such an inspiration to me and to those around him. He was so much, a chauffeur, a cook, a dad, a grandpa and a friend to those in need. He was the kind of man that gave the shirt of his back. I remember when a time when I worked at the hospital as a volunteer and I went with my adoptive mother Joy to the grave where her husband Paul was. After she left and it was time for me to take the bus back home, I stopped and I had a talk with my grandpa at the grave. Call me a weirdo , but I had to tell him everything that was going on. I told him about my past relationships and things that happened. I kept him up to date. After that time I never felt the need to go back to the grave. It’s just an uncomfortable feeling because I know he can hear me even now. As I think about my other set of grandparents, my omi and opi in California, I see how much my grandma is suffering. Even though we weren’t close I know how close my mom is with her and now even my dad and I wait anxiously day in and day out , night after night holding my breath and hoping that I don’t get the call that one or the other has past. My grandpa has stage 4 renal disease and my grandma has Alzheimer’s. She doesn’t remember who she is or anyone really is although she is taking medication to slow the process down. There are times that she can be combative as well and a lot of times that she has fallen. I know the love that my parents have for them because it’s tough to do that. I hope one day I can do that with my husband as well when things are different and it’s not just a bounce back after a flu virus or a surgery. It reminds me of my grandparents and what all they went through with his heart attacks and having to be very in control of what he ate so that he would be able to live. God didn’t want him to suffer anymore and that was what I kept telling myself. After the burial we all went to my uncle Darryl’s house and aunt Kim’s house and everyone had brought over food. No one wanted to cook when someone died. The food was not enjoyable and the reason the family was together was not. It was not an ordinary get together. This was supposed to be a consoling get together, but I didn’t feel it even though we talked and laughed about old times with him. What I saw was the beginning of several things happening that were not very good for all parties involved Grandma seemed to stay strong in the beginning. I guess she felt she had to be because she thought no one would have time to come and comfort her. Also she saw grandpa in a dream like an orb. I have to admit I thought it was crazy myself until it happened to me. One night I was asleep in bed and it was shortly after he had passed away. I remember driving to their house and knocking on the door. It was Christmas Eve night like I always remembered. Everyone was laughing and telling jokes and sharing about the good times that we had. I noticed out of the corner of my eye that my grandpa was sitting on the couch. He was dressed in his normal wear, khaki pants and a fairly decent shirt. He was laughing and I saw his laugh and his face. It was so priceless. I walked up to him and he took my hand and gave me a big hug. I told him it was good to see him and I was sorry for not seeing him before he passed away. He forgave me. He sat for a second longer , gave everyone in the room a hug and disappeared . I actually saw the angel come get him and I felt like I was already in heaven. I wondered if I had died. I woke up shaking and talking in my sleep saying “ Come back. “ The last words I heard from him were “ I have to go I love you and remember I will always be with you.” That dream has always stuck with me because I have not dreamed about him anymore and get jealous on occasion when others do. That is the way he wanted it though. I just needed the closure dream. I have my wonderful memories. I have to admit for a while going back to grandmas without grandpa there was weird. I noticed something change in myself. Even though I had the closure dream I was still mad and I was acting out because of it.For a while I disappeared from my family. My parents were dealing with his death in their own way. They worked a lot and also fought some. I had other intentions. I didn’t want to be alone because I missed my grandpa and I wanted to go back and be with him. I didn’t understand why I was still here. It didn’t make sense. All of my life I had gone through relationship after relationship with guys that I had met in town and guys that I had been pining after and never had the chance to be in a relationship with. It wasn’t satisfying for me. I was trying to find a hole to validate my emptiness inside. Grandma surrounded herself with friends and church functions and it didn’t work for me. I abandoned everything and everyone. All of my life I had been alone. I was born an only child and one that had a genetic disorder. I could go on and on about that, but I won’t because this is a story about grandma and grandpa, not myself per say, just about myself in how I personally dealt with grandpa’s death and how grandma’s life shaped to be with him there and without him there and my family dynamics.
Basically though, I had faced rejection from the get go and one of the only people that made me feel really good about myself had passed away. I was still dealing with grief. Alot of times when he was alive I would go to their house and it was my way of escaping. The beach really didn’t help I tried it. I tried going into my room and blaring loud rap music that was inappropriate at the time because I was in a different place and I was angry. I was so angry that it spilled over. I was mad at myself for allowing myself to be that angry and I had other thoughts in mind. I wanted to go back to the place that I could see grandpa and just be there. I hated feeling so alone in my own state, country, and even my own house with my parents. To fill the void, I began spending a lot of my free time on the computer when I wasn’t working. The computer was my hobby. I had tried so many different scenes with finding a mate and I became obsessive compulsive over that. As an older teen into my early young adulthood I went into the chat rooms and I began flirting with guys. I had no clue who these people were. Then I went from chat room to free dating sites. I would post profiles of myself and hope that I would get a response. At first I decided to go local and I met a few people in my own town. I went to Myrtle Beach and there I met Kevin. He was handicapped and in a wheel chair , but he could talk well. I didn’t really care. All I had on my mind was the obvious. I had no idea that he was so embarrassed about himself and that way that he had gone to the bathroom and wore diapers. I was so ashamed of myself for how I was treating this man. My best friend Tina had come with me then with her boyfriend at the time and father of her child Nick just to be safe. We made it a trip. I was really jealous when my “boyfriend” since we had talked all of about two months as well was actually relating more to them than to me. It was a week or so later when I had come back to school to start a different career and taking the bus to the parking lot where I would go to be dropped off at my grandma’s house that I got his call. The call telling me that were not together and this was after he ignored me all day. I didn’t seem to get it through my mind and I never took rejection well, especially with my first heartbreak Jerry. Then, I widened my search a bit and went to same state different cities. I had quite a few experiences with this. I went to Arizona the first time after only talking to the guy that was named Billy on the internet. He was 300 lbs and was not in the best mental condition. He had weekly counseling sessions. I was so blind I couldn’t see what this was doing to my parents and my family or myself. I had given up school that I had enrolled full time for to be in music which was my passion. I wanted to be a professional flute player,but realized that I wouldn’t be able to make a career off of that and I didn’t have the desire after I failed through my auditory learning and having to mock arpeggios or scales in music class. I thought I would be able to take care of my grief by moving far away and it would disappear. It only became greater. While in Arizona I had lost my license, my freedoms and I was very restricted. I was going to try to get a job, but I still had to have a way there. Before I actually got the job, a situation happened where I was physically abused by my supposed “ lover” and I decided to leave after six months. Abuse was one thing I would not put up with. I may have been demented , but I did have a certain point. I did have a genetic disorder, but I was intelligent enough not to deal with the abuse. Before the abuse though I would write letters to grandma still in Pineywood and I got mad at her a few times. She wrote me some letters that weren’t nice as well. I didn’t realize that we were both grieving at the time. She felt like I should be there for my family and I didn’t feel I should be because it didn’t seem like they cared that I was there or not.
When I came back home things were different for a while. Life was back. I was trying to get myself back on track. Instead of focusing on school I chose to focus on finding a job and saving up some money. Things were okay for a while between everyone. I still went to my cousins’ birthday parties and we still had special dinners with grandma although it was different even at our house because they both used to come together. I was still adjusting to the fact that grandpa wasn’t there and things just didn’t seem right. Things were too serious and grandpa was always the one to break the ice with his laughter. He was a man of few words, but he did know how to make you get a good belly laugh in every once in a while. I had a hard time dealing with walking into the house that grandpa used to be in and realizing he was gone. I could still smell everything from his food to the scent of his shirt. I later would experience a whole lot more the closer spiritually I got with the Lord.
For a while I was able to change things and be a better person. Once things went back to the way that they did with my parents and other family members, I began to rebel again. I still went back on to the computer because by this point I was so afraid of rejection from guys that I knew that I was just bound and determined to find a guy that I was interested in and he was interested in me and I would be able to fill that void with love and sex. At that time I really did think sex was love. I was a nymphomaniac and I realized that I had a major problem. I knew that sex before marriage was a bad thing, but because I didn’t feel the love I thought from God who was letting me stray because I wasn’t seeking him I got myself into trouble.
As I began going on to the dating site again I met another man by the name of Shawn. Shawn was a red neck boy and I was a city girl. Polar opposites and a completely different mind set on the way of living. After two months of chatting on the computer we decided that I would root my self from Pineywood to Southern Grove South Carolina. Visiting him was not an option. I guess I felt like that if I didn’t move that I would lose him when in fact that probably would not have been the case. Bear in mind though that I was in a vulnerable state. I had tried grief share and a lot of things , but no one had time to hear me, not even God himself. Before I left to go to Southern Grove South Carolina, I had left a note and they key to the car that I shared with Carla, my mom underneath the tire wrapped in aluminum foil, so no one would see it. I was so afraid of confronting my parents and so worried they would try to stop me from going. I thought of them as bullies and everything they were going to say was no to my idea. I didn’t give them a chance to say no. I had saved up money and I bought my ticket a week early so no one would know . I had a separate bank account from my parents so I was able to do it. I’m sure they probably saw and heard me talking and wanted me to think they didn’t know. Now as a parent myself I almost guarantee they knew my plan , but wanted me to think they didn’t know. I thought I was so smart.
I boarded the Greyhound bus and again Pineywood was in the rearview mirror three and half hours away. Aunts, uncles, grandma, cousins , and my mom and dad were further away and they couldn’t butt in and make decisions in my life for me or try to tell him how to run my life. It was important for me to prove to them that I was capable of being an adult. Grandpa always saw that in me. He didn’t tell me how to do things, but he walked me through them. When I applied for my first job at the age of 16 at Rapid Waterfall Park, he explained the boxes and told me that I needed to print two copies and I needed to take my time because he knew my handwriting was horrible. My mom especially had a hard time realizing that I could do things on my own and to let go. I wanted to prove to her that I was no baby and just because I had Tuberous Sclerosis I could still comprehend things and I was going to die trying. I didn’t want her help. It was up to me to prove my independence. This was one way of doing so. I also wanted to prove to grandpa that I was able to do it and to take care of myself without the help of a guy even though I was going to be with a guy. So when I got off the Greyhouse bus, he was there as he had promised. He was tall, skinny, had brown hair, and was clean shaven . I knew he smoked, but he wasn’t smoking when he came up. I had impressed him with the skinny mini skirt I had on underneath my clothes and provocative pink top that I owned with it and my makeup. I was definitely a girly girl and out to impress. At this time I was a young 21 year old woman that didn’t really have anyaspirations except to find someone to take care of me that wouldn’t treat me like crap and was similar to my grandpa. I felt I was ready to take on a whole chapter of independence, babies and marriage. I wanted it so much that I would do whatever it took to get it. For the next four years things were up and down with us. I told him I loved him before he was ready for me to and he didn’t say it back until about 3 months later. He proposed to me , but I lost the engagement ring by flushing it down the toilet. He didn’t feel like I loved him because of that reason and wouldn’t replace it. I know he wanted to make things right because he knew how important it was for us to actually be husband and wife because we were expecting a child. It is definitely true that children could make or break you. I was already living the same sort of life style my grandparents had lived. I was a housewife. Before I even had my son. We weren’t married. I was with a married man and that was something that grandma and grandpa would not approve of. I was taking advantage of a married man and I didn’t care. I thought he loved me and I loved him, but we later found out that we were just too different. I had a hard time with communication even though I had seen it clearly with my parents, family and my grandparents. I had tried to talk things out with him, but he never saw my point of view and was mad when I went to my parents. I went to my parents about everything. I didn’t seem to have a problem involving them and that was definitely the wrong thing to do. He let me know that quite a bit. Two months into knowing each other we realized we wanted to have a baby. Sex was always fun to me, but I became the dominating mate instead of him. I wanted sex when I wanted it and it was a schedule. We were trying to conceive. Sex was no longer fun anymore to him and when we had given up pretty much about two months later after four pregnancy tests we found out that we were going to be parents.
Alot of thoughts rushed through my mind. First, I was not really worried about my health. I was more afraid of what my parents would think and grandma would think. I was excited because no one even thought I would be old enough to have child or even learn how to drive a car or even be in a relationship. To be honest, this was a high to me. It was an opportunity and an item to check off of my bucket list. This was my way of thinking at 21 years old instead of it being a blessing and a miracle that I didn’t die from having a baby. I didn’t really care about God’s word or even how my grandpa would be rolling over in his grave once he realized it. I was scared and I began to seek God. I got a bible and I began reading. I had to be really careful because of my genetic disorder.
I remember telling my grandma and my mom and dad. My mom and grandma were so scared for me and I don’t even think they were really excited until about 7 months into my pregnancy. My mom was there for me for my ultrasound when we found out we were having a boy. I was dead set on a girl, but for Shawn the baby just had to be healthy either way. Shawn was there too. I was upset with grandma because I know she was in a way hoping I would miscarry because she didn’t think I was ready and wanted me to have a child whenever I was ready and more importantly not shacked up with a man and was married to him. One that was not married and was free of any kind of strings. This was beyond her control and the result of my actions.
I would talk to grandma everyday on the phone update her about my prenatal appointments and she came whenever I had my baby shower at the house. I got a bunch of neat clothes and diapers. A baby was life-changing, but I was basking in the gift receiving part and nesting and preparing for him even though I wasn’t ready. I was hormonal and I was ready to be a mom. I was going to be the best mom by staying at home . So I thought. It wasn’t until I came home with Bradley and about three or four months into his life that I began feeling post partum. I had been dealing with a lot. I was upset because I felt like I was the only one taking care of him and Shawn was too busy working and couldn’t be bothered. The man that I had thought was so much like my grandpa and would be nurturing and helping raise our son was not. I made a mistake by being jealous because he could hold Bradley better and got offended whenever he said that I wasn’t holding Bradley correctly. I know this, because he admitted that he couldn’t get close to Bradley without me feeling jealous because he did everything so much better because his experience with having so many siblings was outweighing mine. It was a contest. Who proved to be the better parent and it wasn’t about that. Bradley needed our attention.
As soon as Bradley came out I wondered and still do wonder as he grows up how life would have been if his great grandpa Carl had been here to see him and interact with him and wonder what he would have taught him and what lessons Bradley would teach him. It would have brought more youth to grandpa. I once again began to become mad with God because he had taken away someone precious for my son to have experiences with. Grandma was still there , but she was too far away and couldn’t drive, but that wasn’t her fault. She did come with my parents when they came to visit when they all lived in Pineywood.
We did go and visit on occasion and it was even more difficult when we went into the house with him. My parents took him also on a few occasions. I still felt like there was a place in my heart that was void. I know it wasn’t healthy because I felt like I idolized my grandpa and clearly we aren’t supposed to idolize people. Part of me felt like grandpa’s death was my fault because he could have died from heart ache realizing he hadn’t been able to see me before he passed away. Even with the closure dream I wasn’t okay. To this day, I still wonder now that Bradley is 10 how much of a difference it would have made if grandpa had been there and what my son’s influences would be. Would he be a bully still? He would have more great deposits than bad ones. As mentioned before I didn’t realize I was going through post- partem depresssion until I read up on it. I wasn’t smart enough to go talk to my doctor because I didn’t need medicine to get out of this. I had a baby to love on , the same baby that was driving me crazy because he was up and it was inconvenient for me to sleep. The baby that seemed to mess his diaper every hour on the hour and was colicky. The most important thing was that I didn’t have time to satisfy the man in my life that I loved that helped create this bundle of joy because my son was taking the time away. He was taking the time away with the attention that he needed because he became diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis and we had to be extra careful and watch him with his seizures. It became hard to focus because he was so sick, I was sleep deprived and after a while I was the only one dealing with this. Shawn’s excuse was he was too tired and needed his sleep and watched tv ate dinner that I cooked and worked hard after watching the baby all day and he couldn’t be bothered. I realize now that becoming a single mother was hard. Even though he was there I was a single mom. I didn’t have grandma to lean on except by phone or my parents who were always working. This is what I wanted. I wanted an adult life and now it was too late . I was over 18 and they didn’t feel the need to butt in. I had told them not to because I was an adult. I missed having grandpa around because I know he would have gotten my “ass” into gear. He would have snapped me out of it.
What was once a joyous life became boring and also very stressful. I again got into the Word when we began having issues when we were in our new place. A fire destroyed our old place that we rented from. During this time we had decided that we were going to live with my parents in Pineywood. It gave my parents a chance to bond with their grandson and the family time that I craved. I would be able to get my life back on track and I would have everything I wanted in one package pretty much.
Shawn did not like my mom and the way that she handled Bradley. She babied him a lot mostly because he had some developmental milestones to go through and she was going to make sure he went through them. She was only doing what was best for him. After a while, we decided to move into an apartment near grandma Betsy. Bradley became really close with her and she was Gigi. Grandma Betsy and I would both reflect on how things would be if grandpa Carl was here. There were a few times whenever I could have sworn I saw Grandpa Carl sitting alongside of Bradley or a figment of my imagination. While I missed grandpa it did make me smile. Sometimes I would even see Grandpa Carl and Grandma Betsy together with Bradley and all of us on the floor playing with Bradley.
Things happened between my parents and I and Shawn even when we lived in our own place. My mom decided to drop by whenever she wanted to without checking first. It was getting really annoying for Shawn. It caused a rift between us all , so much so that I had called the cops and reported my dad for going by there when we weren’t home because he was going to wait till we got home before he left and that was because Shawn had wanted me to. Now my dad has a permanent record from the cops from what I had done. I have to live with that now. All for satisfaction of a guy and I could see grandpa’s face and how he was frowning down on that, but it didn’t bother me. I became big, bad, and invisible to harm Sarah. I had no idea that Shawn was calling his old boss when he worked at Quik Lube to go back to Southern Grove South Carolina. Without warning, he had called his family from Sydney South Carolina to come help us move. He had found us a home in there to live and we again uprooted to South Carolina again.
Things were great because I felt like we were happy. While I still missed grandpa I had things that kept me busy. Moving and taking care of my family. It didn’t give me much time to grieve and think about him dying and how my grandma and family were coping. It was about my life and my own family’s life. We moved to South Carolina and we put a tv into Bradley ’s room and I worked on building our mother/son bond more. He was now at toddler age and into everything. I felt bad because even though I loved him he still got on my nerves. I didn’t get much time just to let my hair down and relax. I was too busy being house wife and mother. He didn’t want me to work a part -time job. I had that opportunity before the fire, before we had Bradley. I never understood this, because it seemed like we didn’t have much money at all and he was blowing it.
Day in and day out I would slave over a hot stove and try to provide what I could with what little I had. I got into the Word and that bothered him. He was never a a Christian man and didn’t believe anything I was reading. God was really speaking to me. During this time , God revealed to me that I needed to leave Shawn because something bad was happening. I didn’t know what it was. All I knew was that I was losing the best friend I had gained to locked doors, also to vigorous acts of violence through a horrific event of torture when Bradley was with his grandparents. I later found the game cards and the proof of him smelling and not bathing, and never coming out to see us. He was isolating himself and it was because he had a whole life on his computer and he was someone else. He didn’t want his son and I to be included in that anymore. It was so bad that his boss was looking for him because he hadn’t been to work and bills were late. I even had to walk to the food pantry and get what little food I could get. I couldn’t drive a car. I couldn’t get a permit and try for that because we didn’t have the money after I ruined that the first time around before Bradley was born.
I decided to leave him and took Bradley with us. My parents came and got me and once again I was building a life with my parents, Bradley and my grandma and other extended family. I had decided that I needed to provide a better future for my child so I sought out education through Ocean Sound Community College. It was not far from the house and sometimes I would even walk because I didnt have a car and my mom or dad would pick me up. Even when I had a bad car accident when I was dating Scott a guy that I met at Shamrock High school when I was younger, I still went to school and it amazed a lot of people. Nothing kept me down. I wanted to prove to everyone, including my grandpa in heaven that I had risen above challenge after challenge and got back on my feet. It was going to take a lot of work. Long story short, Bradley was involved in school with my mom and she got to see him a lot . He started out three days a week there and then moved to everyday once he was old enough to be in pre-k. He had already been in head start, but still had milestones to meet because he had learning delays. Instead of thinking about what was right for me at the time even though I was involved in school, I was still getting used to the idea of being single. I was going to church and trying to walk with God, but I was still upset with him about grandpa and also the events that happened with Bradley’s father. I knew as a parent it was best to stay with my Shawn because it is the biblical thing to do. I was mad at him because he didn’t want to get married, we found out we really didn’t know a lot about each other and we didn’t love each other. However, I am grateful because we didn’t put Bradley through the pain of watching us fight just for his sake. That wouldn’t have been fair. Before I met my husband Brayden I did go through a few different guys, but I was smart enough to realize that some of them were better left alone There were patterns that needed to change and I had to be the one to make them for my son. My dad promised me that he would help me learn to drive and got a car for me to learn how to drive. I decided again that I was going to rebel and leave and the last time that I did I took Bradley and I had worked things out behind my parents back and they were not happy. My dad was about ready to disown me as his child because of what I had done and what a setback I had even after the conversations that we would have about goals that I wanted to attain to. The problem was and is that I have never been a very patient person and me achieving the goals in the amount of time I wanted to achieve them was not an answer. I didn’t want to wait on God and I sure didn’t want to wait for someone to tell me that I had to work things out first before I was able to. It was like “counting your chickens before they would hatch.”
After I left Scott because of how he was even though he was good with Bradley, I decided to go online yet again and through yahoo I met Brayden who is now my husband for almost three years. He was on yahoo one day and him and his friend were doing some project. I remember trying to pick out who I thought he was. What started out as a joke ended up in a real life romance and I won’t say fairy tale because it gives the wrong illusion. So, day after day for a few months I would talk to Brayden and I found out more about him. As with previous relationships, I decided to stop things in Pineywood and go ahead and move to Mountain Valley to be with him. I put things into place, moved my transcript so that I could see what classes applied and continued through schooling at Pried Peak College in Mountain Valley. My dad was proud and I know grandpa would have been too, my whole family was because I continued through school. I did a bad thing and used my son’s social security check to take him out of an environment that I didn’t think was right for him to be in. While he was thriving in the school that my mom had gotten him into I went and took him out and we left. We went to his aunt and uncle’s house in Sydney for a bit and I worked out an agreement with his dad to have full custody so that I could get my life into order. The truth was that I didn’t like who I was, I didn’t know who I was and I didn’t want my son to see that. My parents were still having issues, my mom was having other issues with her sister that I was dragged into because she was doing more housework and was making my bed one day and talking about it and my dad was involved with work and I don’t know what else. I was upset at circumstances and I didn’t let it play out. I could have lived with my grandma and we could have built a better life for Bradley, but I wanted to be with Brayden. I felt like if I didn’t “Grab the bull by the horns” I was not going to have my chance. So after seven days of being with his nana and papa, Bradley and I and Shawn went to Mountain Valley. I stayed at a hotel and I had my itinerary already drawn up. I already had things figured out. I was going to work at Pizza hut part time and that fell through. The apartments I was going to live at had a shady rental agreement and I was fortunate to have his dad look at that for me and tell me that. Above all, I didn’t want to go back home and realize I was a failure and be lectured to and even at that early stage I knew that I loved Braylen. It was the same as before and yet again I told him too early. He didn’t tell me till later. Of course, first dates were how most of my first dates started out and he admitted to me later on that he thought about not even coming back to me, but he was glad that he did. That day was really hard when I had to tell my son good bye and seeing his little hand wave at me. He hugged me and gave me a kiss and I kissed him back. Thankfully, my parents didn’t hate me so much and let me see him by spending a lot of their hard earned money to plan trips for him to come or them to go and get him when my ex and his girlfriend couldn’t make the trip with all the kids. I wanted him to spend time with his dad, but it has been six year. It’s been the hardest six years of my life because I always get the backlash of abandoning my child and how that ’s going to affect him and not all the other issues about how life would have been if I would have stayed in a house where my parents constantly fought all the time or caused financial issues with my grandma because were there and I didn’t have a job and she just had social security. I was trying to be an adult about this, but letting your kid go and not knowing when or if you would ever get them back really hurt. That was the most painful rejection , yet at the time I felt like it was the only right thing to do granted the circumstances of the situation. I felt like I was stabbed in the chest, yet this was what I wanted and I had to deal with it. I took the time to be selfish and not put his needs first . It was all about me and not him and I. I could have had it all , but had to wait longer or accepted a completely different outcome. Now that I think about it Brayden probably would have waited and figured out a way to visit, but I couldn’t stand not being able to see him everyday. I was alone and a needy woman. Instead of going home, we stayed with his sister Tina and her two kids and husband Tom. I got a part time job at J C Michelle’s and it didn’t work out. It was a sub place. I had no idea that the owners could watch me from home, but I didn’t make the cut. So , we moved in with his mom Judith and father Ted. His mom was an alcoholic and at first I couldn’t deal with it because my mom was one as well and I had seen it all too much. She didn’t want to admit it, but she grew up with a drink at dinner and it went from there. Now, Judith had her moments when she was sober and again I was reminded of grandma because we sat around and I helped her bake as well as clean and also talked with her, watched Criminal Minds and Law and Order and we did drink coffee and talk. She was a mother figure and also a grandma figure to me. She loved the fact that I loved her son for who he was. It took me back to the days when my grandma and grandpa were physically together, because in a lot of ways Judith and Ted acted like t hem when she was sober. No one loved anyone greater and you could definitely tell it. They were married about the same length of time as well.
During this time when we lived with them, we helped them build their dream cabin and I was a full-time student on a federal pell grant. School and making my man happy was my life. I did miss my son and I did cry a lot, but I couldn’t focus on that. I was making good grades in school and some of it was with the help of my husband. He was and still is one of the most brilliant men that I knew especially when it comes to computers. He continues to wow me at what he knows and the knowledge that he retains. He has a bit of confidence about him that I like and it encourages me. It is the same confidence my grandpa had. Even if he didn’t know how to do something he still made it seem like that he did. There were things I thought he knew how to do, but he didn’t and it seemed like he had been doing them for twenty or more years when in fact all he really did was study really hard how to do it and made it seem effortless. I had done some research on line and after six months of living in Mountain Valley realized it was time to go back home and finish school because it would have taken me a longer time to do it in Mountain Valley than in Pineywood. I had a secret agenda because I was double dipping with relationships. I had gotten back in contact with my old ex Scott. Long story short, after some time about four or five breakups Brayden and I got back together for good. I still decided to pursue school at Pineywood at Ocean Sound Community College and we dated long distance with visits for three years. During this time Bradley came to visit one time his father Shawn and girlfriend Stacy brought him and then other times my parents went to Montana to get him. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have had the chance. There were times we flew to see him also. Bradley had the chance to interact with Brayden and realized they had similar hobbies and he is a lot like him. The two of them are close. So at that time when we were all together we focused on creating a family with him when we could and acted as such. It brings me to tears sometimes to see it. Grandma’s was a place that my Bradlley looked forward to his eggrolls, sausage bacon and rice and eggs. He misses the cuddles with Scooby Doo. I am so glad that my grandma has not changed who she is and he still sees her for what we see her today as. She still loves on him just as much as the other ones and it give her that spark. When she wonders what she is there for . What her meaning in life is. All she has to do is look at her own children or her grandchildren or great grandson and see the results of the marvelous grandparent she has been and mother that she has been to the boys. Especially in times whenever Kearney burned his face really bad and those years of rejection. My uncle Kearney was trying to be cool. I guess he thought that matches and a gasoline can would be the way to go. When he walked in and my grandma saw the look on his face. His eyebrows were singed and he literally had just been pretty much set on fire and felt electrocuted. She scooped him up and the their neighbor Manny took them to the hospital. It of course was my grandpa’s first day on his new job. It seemed like that was always the time that these little accidents happened. Of course no one could avoid them. The painful treatments that she was there by his beside. That is definitely a mother’s love. All the times she cared for her kids. Nothing else was more important. Providing for her family was number one and she sacrificed time for herself to make sure her family was raised in the way they should and to enjoy life. Even with myself, in three years a family bond has been built between myself, my son, and his stepfather, and I now had an Associates in Medical Office Administration, the chance to earn money from a part time job with school through the Federal work study program, a minor in Medical Transcription, a Medical Coding certificate and a year of hospital work experience through volunteering that I went over and above for. I also was engaged to Brayden and we were in the process of planning our wedding. For someone that I met online and was able to maintain a relationship and future marriage with we have done an excellent job. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend meeting your match online, but sometimes when things fail as a last resort yes, but for us it was great. We were able to stand the test of time and even with grandma and grandpa when my grandma was pregnant with Ricardo my grandpa didn’t see him until he was 8 months old and he had to go to Japan without her. He couldn’t tell her where he was going because it was top secret. So there was a year when they were not together very much, but for the most part they traveled together and passed many tests with flying colors just like my husband and I did .
During the schooling I moved back in with grandma Betsy and her whole attitude changed. We had Fefe the dog as well. It was nice having the dog and being able to pet her and also Sweet Tea the Bird. I went to church with her and started creating a life that was similar to the one like it was when grandpa Carl was alive. While it was still weird, it was less weird and it was what grandma needed. I sat with her at church we sat at the coffee table and talked and in the living room and dining room and watched tv and talked about the old days. Her life before she met grandpa and hearing the stories over and over never got old. It was a sad day August, 29, 2013 when I left because I had a job interview the first week of September . I had no idea I was going to have so many more. I decided to stay. I was only supposed to be gone five days and come back to Pineywood if unsuccessful. We worked out an arrangement. I cooked and cleaned and tried to find work and finally found it. I was going to work at SGA Center which was an assisted living facility his sister Tina had given a great reference as well as Pastor Kearney and Brayden who had worked there before. I had my car and my portfolio displaying all the work I had done. I know that people saw me carry that portfolio like it was a guarantee I was going to get a job because some even asked me why I had it.
When it finally came time for me to get a job, the one that my husband and his sister helped me ot get I couldn’t stand. The job seemed to be too much for me because I had a client pass away and I was reminded again of grandpa’s death. I had another experience with death as well when my previous mother-in-law passed away from congestive heart failure and also renal failure through alcoholism. I went into the room and again and saw the cold body laying there and the swelling of her face which was as a result of the renal kidney failure. Her organs were shutting down. It was hard to be there for Brayden and the family, but easy at the same time. I was not yet Brayden’s wife, but I felt like it because I lived with them and I saw them on a daily basis and how close I was with everyone. When Tina was pregnant again for the fifth time she decided to let a lot of people know at funeral. I was mad at her for that and it reminded me of how some of my family were when my grandpa Carl passed away. It wasn’t appropriate. After her passing it gave me time to think about what I wanted in a marriage and a spouse. I wanted a different job and I got another job before leaving SGA center. I became a Problem Resolution Rep for the local cable company Jet. It was a piece of crap from the start, but eventually made my way to the top. A year later we married in 2014 on March 8th and have been married and still as much in love ever since. The day was a day I would never forget and one I wished htat my grandpa would have been there for. I had a white dress and even my mom was envious. I don’t believe she thought I could do a good job. My grandma was upset that I didn’t let her go with me to pick it out. I picked my best friend Jess and my adoptive mom to go. I think my mom was hurt as well. I did feel bad, but it was the only week I was going to get a discounted dress. I paid the money and felt bad that I had asked my adoptive mom to hold on to it and asked her for it back. I was worried it would smell like smoke, but it didn’t. A day before we had wedding counseling with my uncle and it was a condensed version. The next morning I got up and got ready. We had the wedding at 10 on Saturday morning the 8th. My mom tied my dress really tight where I couldn’t breathe. I loved the ceremony, but I was ready to get out of the dress. I felt in some ways like my grandma. At that time his dad was alone and his sister Tina was not renting the house so we were able to be by ourselves. We actually fell asleep early on our wedding night, but we did consummate the marriage that day. I kept thinking about grandma and grandpa and my mom and dad and their earlier years. Brayden and I had a conversation that we were not going to stop loving each other and we ere not going to change each other. We have not done that and have only grown more in love with each other. Bradley is still with his dad and for the most part I believe loves it there, but also wants to be with me and misses me and his stepdad. I love cooking and have acquired the skills to cook Chinese food and eggrolls in particular. I make really good eggrolls and even to this day I know that he is watching me as my guardian angel and Bradley because I get chills when I cook Chinese food and a eery feeling like he’ s putting his arm around me. The night before I got married, even after the talk with my mom, my dad, my fiancee and my grandma, I had a talk with grandpa. I had no idea that my husband wanted me to go to the grave with him when his mom died because he promised her that he would take care of me. I thought he wanted the time to himself. I had talked to grandpa as well before my wedding night whenever I had met John , Scott’s dad. I had a long talk one day about what I wanted and I got it . I could see him smiling. Grandpa was warning me about how sex would feel, but expressed his disappointment because I had not waited. He gave me his approval that it was okay to marry Brayden and how similar he was. He was still the “jack of all trades” because of what his dad had shown him, compassionate, and had a strong gentle heart even though he did pick on me too much sometimes he wanted to have fun in life and showed me it’s okay to not be serious sometimes, and he knew to be serious. I married a man just like him and my dad a lefty , intelligent, tall, dark hair hazel eyes and a man that drives me crazy every time I look at him in a good way and knowing that I had my grandpa’s approval as well as my grandma and other family has made me happy. He also is very good with his hands and knows a lot of little things that his dad Ted taught him. For a few things we’ve called the repair guy for, but for most things , it has been him who has mostly fixed things. My wedding day I was beaming from ear to ear because I married the man my heart desired and I felt God had placed in my path. I heard grandpa’s voice in my ear and there is no greater feeling than that. I had sought the approval and realized my worth that I didn’t have to prove to anyone that I was worth it except for God who already knew and my husband as well. All I did and continue to do is for the Lord and that brings me peace. I’m so lucky to have a man that I can relate to on so many levels and to realize that I have a little bit of true “Love” inside of me that is emulated through grandma Betsy and Grandpa Carl. It’s also funny because my grandma of course said not to tell anyone this, but she jokingly said that she doesn’t believe in reincarnation, but wouldn’t be funny if FeFe was grandpa. They were just so similar. Also knowing that grandma Betsy is no longer alone as my uncle Edwardo lives with her and is not lonely. My uncle Edwardo had his own issues with his wife and they split up and have adult children just like I am. She also still has Fefe the dog who is older and her bird Sweet Tea. It’s funny because if you talk too much and she talks too much then Sweet Tea will start nodding his head and also laughing. My grandpa taught him how to laugh. He throws his head back and laughs. He also says pretty bird and pretty Sweet Tea. He loves to take a shower. I’m surprised my grandma still has him because he is at least 10 years old now. She takes excellent care of everything though so I see why animals in her home have longevity. Grandma has her memories and knowing that we have all healed and can share and still cry at times is comforting. We have all found our peace. My parents are still together after rekindling their relationship, and some marriages fell apart, Edwardo and my aunt Kelly divorced and also my uncle Larry and his wife Cierra. Also now, my cousin Matthew and his wife Mariah are separated as well. I know that has definitely caused some tension in the family. I know that God was not happy about that and neither was Grandpa, and he would be rolling in his grave for that but it was out of his control and life still lives on. To this day I can still hear the exhaust fan and feel his presence as well as sometimes see my grandparents together in my mind and how they used to laugh and joke around and show affection to each other. I can still see him wrap his arms around his “Love.” It makes me smile and cry sometimes at the same time. To this day when I hear it is Well in my Soul, There You’ll Be, I’m Already There , Wind Beneath my Wings, and The Rose by Bette Midler I cry because it reminds me of him and how much he was there for me. “ One Moment in Time” By Whitney Houston also reminds me of how I used to be and his influence and how he has helped mold me into what I would like to be. I wanted him to cook for my wedding, but even though he wasn’t physically there he was there. He was crying at how beautiful I looked at my gown and empathizing with me that I couldn’t breathe . He’s been there in every situation, when we left the house that we always knew, Brayden and I because of his sister Tina and her kids and he’s with Bradley and his dad. He’s with all of us in some way shape or form for the better. I have learned and watched how communication has affected my grandparents and the marriage they have and I strive for that everyday. When and if I have Bradley again I hope Brayden and I can strive to be the best parents we can be and replicate how my grandparents were because they were a great role model how life shall be lived together. When I look at my dad sometimes it’s hard because of how he is so similar as well, but have come to accept it and also my uncle that resembles him his brother that passed away. I could see grandpa all over his face. Now I just smile because I know he’s all around me as well as God and I can make it through another day. Music has always been in my life and has helped me . John Secada’s “ Just Another Day” helps as well.
I still feel the chill when I make eggrolls or any Chinese food or when I have a good belly laugh. When I saw my uncle Jack it reminded me of my grandpa and those feeling again. Grandpa knew how to have a good belly laugh. I am reminded when grandma reacts to situations that are similar with her and my grandpa between myself and my husband and when she talks about memories that she brings up over and over but they never get boring.
Like her I smell the exhaust fan from the smoke of the great big wok that I wished that I owned myself and I feel the love I put into most of my food, minus my chili that comes from the heart.
The same passion of cooking that I have learned from two people who show love two different ways one through Chinese/American cooking and the other through the “extras” that need to be done. I wish now as a young adult that marriages as well as relationships would be like they used to be whenever things were simple and nothing had to be big and extravagant. Grandma and grandpa’s story is just one example of how a life was lived in simplicity and complexities were very few and far between.
He was there holding my hand at my wedding with a gleam in his eye so proud of the choice his granddaughter made, but wish she had met her husband and best friend the traditional way. As soon as the wedding was over the reception began and the smell radiated through the hall of his magnificent and passionate work with the outpouring of love he called his eggrolls and Asian/American cuisine. This was the man that cooked for my wedding in my dreams, but he was the one that held my newborn child when he was born along with my grandma and whispered in his ear and made him laugh and coo when he was a baby. The man that built legos with him when was older and the man that I looked up to for advice. Grandpa Carl. He was the man that helped bring my lovely father in to this world and was such a great man to be around.
Thank you to my family who inspired me to write this book all of you all. It was with you that I was able to bring moments of pleasure and of course some moments of not so pleasurable moments in to view. I thank you for my wonderful husband who supports me and my child as well as my grandma most of all who inspired me to write a story about her life for us to read one day. That one day is now. He may be gone, but never forgotten and holds a very special and treasured place in our hearts.
Thank you most of all for my Lord Savior Jesus Christ who died for my sins and has forgiven me. I am saved by grace and I know that there have been many times that I have doubted you and your capabilities or even to stir up the ability in me to bring things to the surface that I need to in both my stories as well as my personal life. Thank you for being with me every step of the way no matter what trial I may be in or what joy I am in. You have always been my comforter and my source of strength.
Thank you for my teachers who have taught me so many things in life that I have used today. The writing tools I need to be able write effectively and general common knowledge. I know without their foundation I would not be where I am today. A special thank you to Mrs. Aiello who is also in heaven and passed away because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mrs. Aiello was a teacher and a second grandma to me back when I was in the fifth grade. She instilled me values that I will remember for the rest of my life that has carried me through some tough things. I do miss her greatly, but I know that she is no longer suffering anymore.