I spoke at length about my maternal grandmother yesterday and about how she sacrificed to give me what she could in my childhood.
I should elaborate a little on some of the circumstances surrounding that. Long story short, my mother couldn't be bothered raising me as a single, 19 year old, parent. Hence I wound up being cared for by her sister (my aunt) her mother (my grandmother), her grandmother (my great-grandmother) and a succession of her girlfriends, many of whom would've made her a fine husband, if you catch my meaning and get my drift.
But my grandmother drank. A little at first, then more after her mother-in-law, my mom's grandmother, died. I was six when that happened. Then her other daughter, my aunt, married and moved out. After that I eventually became my Nana's confidante, son and best friend. I also became her bartender ("Ronnie, get me a beer while you're up, please and take this empty with you.")
Sometimes I became her ambassador to the neighbors. I remember once being told by the drunken man next door that there was "going to be trouble" if I didn't do something about a tree that was about to fall on his car. I was 11. Another time a beer bottle went horribly awry in the middle of the night and visciously attacked my Nana. I had to go wake the neighbors and ask them if they could drive us to the Emergency Room so Nana could get stitched up.
I hated Christmas Day. I hated Easter, too. And Thanksgiving. These were big drinking days in my family and I knew that no matter how much resolve they all showed before the big day arrived, when it did it was almost guaranteed to end in screaming, arguing and acrimonious verbal exchanges.
One of their biggest sources of contention with each other was, surprise, me. They would often drink and fight over me. Matters of custody, mostly. Like I wasn't in the room, or couldn't hear them from upstairs where I was shaking under my covers in fear that they might hurt each other for real... or me.
I lived a life torn between two women I wanted to love, my mother and my grandmother, but both of whom seemed to do everything within their power to make sure that I would grow up hating their combined guts, instead.
They had their good moments, as I wrote about yesterday regarding my grandmother, but those times were almost always outweighed by the self-centered evil of their uncontrollable anger and self-pity which emerged when they were drinking.
I know now that they were not bad people, but merely sick people.
I got something they never got, though.
And that was "better."