Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Life and Death of Patsy Peterson, aka Grandma


I saw my grandma last night. She's been dead for a few years, and still is, but sometime after midnight she spoke to me in the present tense. "Oh Dylan, I'm so old now. I'm an old lady," she moped from her living room chair. Sitting on the couch, I quietly smiled at her as she talked. I thought to myself, 'you were old.'

"If I want to talk to my grandkids on the internet, I don't even know how to do it," she sighed, "I can't be the grandma they want me to be."

I looked at her with such sad joy. "But you were a great grandma," I told her. I miss her so much...

"Eghhh..." she reveled in her pessimism, ignoring my compliment. Nothing had changed.

I knew that everything she said was merely a hybrid of my memories and my own projections of what I wanted her to be today. "What do I do, Grandma?" I asked with utter desperation in my voice.

While she was alive, I always went to her for advice. If I ever needed help, she was there for me. I could call her on the phone anytime, even if it was a Collect call. She always accepted the charges. And I could always stop by her place if I ever needed to take a nap on her couch or eat her cereal.

I need advice again, but even though my grandma speaks in the present tense, I respond to her in the past tense. She is sitting in front of me, but I know that she's gone.

Any advice she gave me last night didn't come from her, but from my own head. She can't give me any more help, and I have to take responsibility for my own life. But I still want to believe that I can make her proud. Unfortunately, whether or not she's in the past or present tense, I just don't know how to make anyone proud anymore.

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