Saturday, December 31, 2005

Missed opportunity

I have never asked my grandmother these questions (and more), and now, as she's too feeble to carry on conversation, I can't:

1. Were you there when I was born? (Yes, I can ask my mother, but that will be my mother's version.)
2. When and why did you move back and forth between Illinois and Maryland? (I know why she moved to MD at one point in the 60's -- to get out of my uncle's way when he married, even though he would NEVER have asked her to do so; that's why she did it. I know why she moved back to IL for good -- to care for her aged mother. But she made this move numerous times. Why did she move the other times?)

3. Tell me about your lousy marriage. (She once told me she would, but she never did. I never pushed it because I didn't want to dredge up her painful memories. Now I think that was a mistake.)

Then there's a question she probably couldn't answer -- what took away your boldness? She was a girl who routinely rode a horse standing on its back. By the time I knew her (and she was only 40 when I was born), everything from physical items to social situations was an occasion for potential disaster: slamming car doors, negotiating stairs, taking on positions of responsibility, choosing to be educated.

I'm going to think about the questions I want to ask my mother, and this time I'll ask them and get my answers. I won't make the same mistake twice.


meowkaat said...

Your post made me weep. When my grandmother passed, there were so many, MANY things I wished I had asked her! One year, about five years before she died, I bought a book called "Grandmother Remembers" filled with questions about her life and sent it to her to fill out, which she did...a little. There were so many spaces she left blank and I still look at those and wonder... my mom recently filled out a similar book, but you're right, there are questions we need to think of, to ask before it's too late. You have my absolute sympathy for your Grandmother's deteriorating condition. I pray you find peace in the love you have shared, Bitty.

Bitty said...


I read a post of YOURS some months back in which you talked about your grandmother dying. During these months when I've been facing the same thing I haven't forgotten its eloquence or its message. I can't be there with her as you were--she's a thousand miles away. We can't have everything, I don't suppose. My uncles, who are with her, nevertheless feel as helpless as I do. I did have several days in October with her while she was feeling well and I suppose that's far more valuable than being there when she doesn't know I am.

About the has occurred to me that people tell the same story of their lives over and over. I know many things about her. But that's not the whole story. And things that I might have wanted to know, she might never have thought to tell me. There are probably many questions that it wouldn't have occurred to me to ask. And that's how it will have to stay.

Thank you for your kind words, more than my words can express.