This post is a bit of a downer, but I just needed to write this last night. My blog, my blurb 🙂

Sometimes I think I’m selfish.

Not in the, “I think only of me” sense at all, but still selfish nonetheless.

I have basically constructed my own little world, in that for the most part I do what I want and am really not accountable to anyone else. Yes, there are family and friends, but there are no children I am responsible for, no husband to check-in with if I’m running late. Yes, I have a boss and responsibilities, but I’m basically working to support myself and my necessities.

This means that at times I don’t have to pretend to be anything other than what I’m feeling. If I’m cranky, I don’t have to pretend smile and be civil when I come home from work. If I’m tired, I can sleep. If I want to do a yoga tape, I don’t have to wait for the TV. In essence, I kind of revolve my world around myself. Even though I give what I can to those I care for, the only one I really have to worry about making happy is me.

I don’t hide my emotions well, and to be honest, I think I would find it exhausting to try and live my life that way. But there are times I am humbled, when I push any mood or “disordered” thinking out of my head and simply smile, laugh and talk. While I may not be that way all the time, I can play that role when necessary.

It’s been very necessary lately with my grandma.

While details aren’t needed, let’s just say the relationship between her, my mom and me is about as tight as three generations can go. That’s a good thing and a bad thing, as my mom deals with grandma craziness and I deal with a double dose from both of them. However, I can play that role when necessary.

Gram is 86 and I’ve pretty much prepared myself for her death the past few years, actually since my grandpa passed away eight years ago. They had done everything they ever wanted to do—created a business, a huge family, a life together for more than 60 years—and were so completely at peace (you wouldn’t know it by how they argued, but it was all part of the deal.)

So as bad as it sounds, when she goes I’ll be fine. Even though I have an odd perspective on death in general (as in, it doesn’t really bother me), things have been getting so bad that it will actually be a relief when it happens. But these past couple months it seems it’s getting closer—she has pretty much given up even trying. She can’t walk, she’s incontinent and no longer makes an effort, she’s stopped eating and she’s just…vacant. It’s like she’s already gone.

But it finally hit my mom last night. (Background—she’s an extremely emotional person. I am the complete opposite, ironically.) I was making a dessert at my mom’s when she came back from the home; she goes every day. Something last night hit her hard and she lost it. I can’t say much, as she doesn’t really understand my “I’m at peace with things” attitude at times like these, but sometimes you don’t have to say anything at all. By the time I cleaned up she was fine. We have this silent understanding when it comes to emotions.

I had plans of an evening walk or yoga tape — of course I need my exercise — but instead I ran over to the home and watched some of the game with gram (we get our love of baseball from her.) I smiled. I talked a little about my day. She listened and continued to fiddle with her hands a bit as she’s taken to doing lately. Something washed over me and so I brushed her hair, now so brittle and thin, for half an hour. I massaged her arms and swollen legs as best as I could with her sitting in her chair. I knew she didn’t care how her hair looked, if I was clumsy in my efforts at massage, if I got my walk in that day.

All she knew was she loved how it felt.

Her eyes were closed and for once, I didn’t try and fill the silence. With the game in the background, I didn’t make my normal conversation. I just let her be quiet. I just let me be quiet. I watched her enjoy this simple pleasure, as minor as it was, and for that hour I put away any “to-do’s” I had planned for the night. I didn’t care how I hair looked, if I was clumsy in my efforts at massage, if I got my walk in that day.

All she knew was she loved how it felt.

They came to get her for her bath, but before I left I took her face in my hands and kissed her, telling her I love her like I always do. As she always does, she replied back that she loves me more. We go back and forth with our argument until one of us gives in (or I leave and shut the door yelling “More!”)

This time her voice was a little weaker, and mine might have been, too. Yes, I have basically constructed my own little world, but she’s been a huge part of it for 28 years. If she’s ready,  I can play that role when necessary.

16 responses to “More…infinity

  1. I love this story about your grandmother and how close you are with her. I have never been close with my grandparents, both sets live in Puerto Rico. My grandmother (the one I was actually kinda close to) died my senior year of high school. I don’t think you are selfish, you have just found a comfortable way of living, because you don’t have to be accountable to a husband or children.
    Question. What yoga tapes do you do? I am doing well on my own, but there are days when I just want someone else to follow!

  2. This is such a beautiful post – I got a little teary-eyed reading it. My dad’s mom died 3 months before I was born so I never met her but my other grandma just died in September. She had dementia and I had pretty much made my peace with it too – she was “gone” for about 5 years before she actually passed on. It still hurts though.

  3. Wow. A beautiful beautiful post.

  4. Abby,
    Ok, now this is scarring me, my own grandmother just went in to the hospital last week. Shes 88, and although usually very mentally sharp, shes taken a turn for the worst these past couple weeks. I too am ready to let go.
    My dad keeps reminding me when he sees me slip and get thinner, “you know, your living in your own world! Look around! Reach out!”. I hate to admit when he’s right, but thats usually how it goes. I build a fortress and my eating disorder can blossom without disturbance. I’m not as close to her as you seem to be with yours. Shes obsessed with her only son (my dad) and she never warmed to my own mother (who died ten years ago). But shes very much part of my world, and if she died or got even worse tomorrow, I’m on a plane to Belgium (where she lives) skipping my workouts and my yoga. And you are not selfish. I’m sick of people think EDs are about selfishness, its usually the opposite, selflessness. I think you took care of Abby when you took care of gran. Theres a big leap.

  5. Your relationships are so beautiful and strong. It’s such an inspiration to read about.

    Sometimes we deserve to make the world revolve around ourselves. Especially when trying to recover. But it’s also great that you know when you need to put other things “first”. I look forward to reading more of your words as they come 🙂

  6. Abby, this is definitely not a downer post. Quite the opposite, at least for me when I read it. What a beautiful thing to have such a bond with your grandmother. It seems like you both have a wonderful effect on each other and you don’t even have to say anything. That is rare I think.

  7. I agree with the other commenters who said this isn’t a downer to read. I think it is really cool to hear about your relationship with her. My grandmother was always kind of annoyed by my sisters and I, but I always envied people who were close with their grandparents.

    As far as the selfishness thing goes, I think it is the disease that creates an illusion of selfishness (that could possibly be seen as methods of protection or preservation or sanity). Does it cause us to be overly focused on ourselves? Yes. But in my experience it typically isn’t at the expense of others, but rather at your own expense.

  8. This so reminds me of the time I spent with my grandparents….I could see their health deteoriating every minute, and I knew the role I had to play at that stage: to care for them, to make them happy, to make them comfortable, to touch them and caress them and make them feel loved and appreciated.

    I’m also selfish. I center everything around my own likes, dislikes, moods, and situations. It’s times like these, when we actually have a responsibility for someone that we are pulled out of our own world and realize that we’ve been living a very selfish life.

    But Abby, from this post, it’s just so evident that though you may live a “selfish” world…when situation comes for it, you can be selfless and loving and warm. And yes, you’re beautiful.

  9. Your relationship with your grandma is really beautiful. I think what you did for her last night is amazing and very special.

  10. This was so sweet I’m gonna cry. I’m am emotional like you’re mom, but I have already said how much we have in common and this proves once again why I think you must be a version of my older self.

    My mom, grandma, and I are close too. We fight like crazy, they are crazy, they think I’m crazy, but we love eachother like crazy too. I am selfish in a “only child most of my life” kind of way and I am good at just worrying about myself. Except when it comes to them. I don’t know what it will be like once my grandmother’s gone. I don’t know how I will deal with it. But of course I think about it, and I hope that eventually I can be “at peace” with it too oneday.

  11. This is so sweet. I’ve never been able to connect to my mother and I never met my grandmothers. I must admit I’m a little envious. You are very lucky to have the relationship you share with these special women.

  12. First off, I am sad to hear that your grandmother isn’t doing well. I lost both of mine at such a young age that I really don’t know what you must be going through right now.

    You are not a selfish person for wanting time to yourself. I am the same way. The only difference is that since I brought a child into this world I HAVE to find time to spend with her, even if I don’t feel like it. Most of us moms wish we’d thought things through a bit more (just kidding!).

    Anyway, I can tell you are obviously not selfish by reading how you ran over to your grandmother and spent quality time with her, regardless of the things on your to do list.

    This post isn’t a downer at all, if anything, I want to call up my mom and see how she’s doing.

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