I am 65 - officially a senior
slower, wiser - more forgetful
(ok I'm crispy creamed)
it was always a flash in my mind
what will it be like? how will I look?
thinking of my parents and my grandparents right now
as I approach them physically and cognitively
at 9 thinking fuck
I hope I never become that!
welcome to the moment
I’ve realized some things as of late, that I couldn’t really see clearly over the course of my life growing up, becoming a ‘mature’ adult; often struggling to grasp basics like managing relationships/family, juggling career & finances (so busy all the time) … the goal of stability and recognition. Blind as a bat.
What I never saw until now was the loneliness they endured day after day. On islands - isolated and impaired but still very aware. I was struggling too and she understood that. A primal maternal instinct in disarray. My needs more important than hers. I miss granny.
Most seniors experience a very real neglect from those younger; left alone for longer & longer periods of time with no contact. Quiet reflection lasting weeks, months … sometimes years (for many) with perhaps a fleeting hello/check in. A tough spot. Expressing loneliness often creates a reaction and a further distancing. I mean, who wants to be around someone who is needy right? So keeping quiet and taking what you can get becomes a new norm. I count my blessings every day. I got lucky (convincing tone).
That said, both of my grandmothers, in their late 70’s were actually quite humble; understanding that their children were busy living their lives and didn’t want to be bothered. It’s an endearing quality that I fully appreciate, especially now. That said ... do you have to be so far away?
Reverence vs. Relevance
As a kid, I remember watching my parents interacting w/theirs with some confusion. It was like a ‘duty’ thing for them, that they really wish they didn’t have to do. Often impatient, getting short with them for the smallest of reasons, wanting to get away from them as soon as humanly possible. Retaining some sense of relevance becoming more and more challenging. We kids were occasionally shuffled off to the grandparents so Mom & Dad could get a break from us. All in all, aging parents had their benefits.
Both of my parents sometimes received money when times were tough, from their mothers who were always there for them but all too infrequently in return. Of course always a ‘loan’ and of course never paid back. It was just a given. Grandfathers were always out of the picture … a recurring theme throughout my life (absent father syndrome).
In the one year I went to Woodstock Collegiate Institute (1973 - Grade 12 - at 16), I ate my lunch at Grandma Batho's on Edward Street, about 1 km north from the high school where she lived alone in a musty mid-sized 2 story, 3 bedroom Victorian on a quiet, turn of the century street. It was the highlight of her day, preparing a hot lunch for me Monday to Friday that school year that she gladly paid for, living on her modest nest egg (savings) and a next to nothing government pension.
Big old trees, crickets in the twilight. I always slept like a baby there when I was younger and we lived there for a short time as a kid. Fresh air, quiet ... night sounds. Old wind up clocks with florescent arms ticking slightly out of sync. Mom & Dad sleeping in the next room, Granny down the hall.
My arrival signalled a return to family ... like she had in the past - gone, now back.
The look on her face sitting at the kitchen table staring out a window when I walked in the door was priceless. That smell. Pork chops & Libby's deep browned beans w/boiled potatoes - my fave.
She was deaf mute and we talked a crude sign language on our hands and she was always so happy to see me. Very simple, caring woman. Granny always knew the second I walked in that front door at 12:12 pm because she was waiting for it, almost counting down the seconds. I thought nothing of it. It was a convenient mid-day respite w/lunch for me. A stop-over.
I just took it for granted, preoccupied w/life as an insecure 16 year old who liked music; quietly dreaming of what it would be like to make a living doing that. For her, my daily 10 minutes sitting at the table having lunch with her was everything. Relaxing in the living room listening to the radio before returning. Mike Oldfield, Tubular Bells on whilst listening to her washing the dishes. I hated high school.
She rarely ate herself, just watched me eat.
I often wonder what it must have been like that late June, after finishing my exams and not coming for lunch anymore. That last day of school, I waved goodbye to her and I walked home to have supper w/Mom, younger brother and self absorbed step-dad just like I did every other school night.
I can’t imagine what it was like for her, knowing I wouldn’t be coming back - ever.
I didn't even give it a second thought.
mona batho w/laddie - summer 1947
She must have been incredibly sad about that. I went on to college in London then moved to Toronto. I saw her maybe 3 or 4 more times (Christmas) after that final lunch there in June 1974 before she died in 1978 when I was after-show partying in Sault Ste. Marie performing in a band that winter.
I often think about what grandma batho went through. Especially now ...
because I'm going through the very same thing she did.
I miss her - miss them. Recurring dreams.
Just here to document them.
volume up, 720p
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