Memories of a Grandmother

I try and gain as much knowledge about my maternal grandmother, so I can piece together more of an image of her. She’s a part of my history, and one that I feel like I know very little about. I only know of my grandma through stories my Mom and Grandfather have told me. Yet, I feel like she speaks to me in pieces of accounts I get from time to time, which are sprinkled through my life like bread crumbs.

I’m told I have a lot of her in me. That, if one were to compare photos of the three generations: my mother, her mother and myself all have a strong family resemblance. Yet, this woman is an enigma to me. She dances around my sub-consiouse and becomes a different person every time I hear a new story of her. I used to imagine her as a victim of cancer, a poor statistic tragically swiped from existence by an unfeeling disease. Then, when I’d hear stories about how bi-polar she was and the non-stop cigarette smoke that would billow from her mouth, I’d imagine her as a loud, unpredictable, yellow toothed monster, a woman I wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time with and certainly not want to let kiss me on the cheek.

I once monologued at her. I was in an audition room and was asked to yell at a family member. I chose Her because I didn’t know her. I yelled at her for dying, blaming her cigarette smoke and selfishness and found myself crying in a completely surprising turn of events. Did she hear that speech? Did she understand how frustrating it was to only get snippets of information about her, and how sensational I thought this woman to be? Who was Helen? I see her as a bi-sexual divorcee single mother who travelled around the country in the 60’s and 70’s teaching english as a college professor and wrote a lot of letters and poetry. She half raised my Mom.¬†She was beautiful. She was flawed.

I wish I had met her. Maybe I’d understand a little more of myself, if I could.

November 1, 2012 at 3:37 pm by Natalie Allen