Tuesday, April 10, 2018

What I wanted to say

Dear Tootie,

You are no longer suffering, and for that I am grateful.

I've gone through so many feelings since you left this world Saturday. Grief, relief, rage that you had to go through so much during your 82 years on this planet.

What I should have said to you is what I have only realized in the past few days: you were brave.

You raised five children and catered to a demanding, grumpy, negative, and often demeaning spouse for more than 60 years.

You had one psychotic break and hospitalization after another, one medication failure after another, one that finally worked and had terrible side effects. But you kept going. You didn't give up.

You didn't give up when the rest of the family felt ashamed of you, hid you during your times of illness. They told us you fell down the stairs again and would be in the hospital again. We worried. We finally figured out they were ashamed of something they didn't understand, something that was not your fault.

Yet, later on, you were open about living with bipolar disorder, which affected you so much since you got diagnosed so late.

You were not ashamed. You were strong. You inspired me. I should have said so, and would have said so, but I didn't recognize it until now. I was so focused on being angry at everyone who continued to marginalize you, to fighting for and speaking up for "the cause," that I was blind to what should have been more important.

It takes an exceptionally strong person to persevere when the people who are supposed to care for you most say they "wish you weren't so weird."

You weren't weird to me. You made me sugar cookies when I wanted them on a whim. You took one step at a time with me on the stairs to match my pace, when I was afraid of falling down them. You told me, when I was upset about my mother getting remarried to an awful man, that it was important that you knew how I felt on her wedding day. No one else wanted to validate a 9-year-old, but you did that for me.

In fifth grade, I naively asked you for a red velvet pinafore, not knowing your medication made your hands shake. You still made it for me.

*Ninja edit: Speaking of brave, I just remembered how you chased off a bear from your cabin porch in Minnesota.

You were just five feet tall, but you said you shook a stick at him, and told him not to come back, and he ran off!*

You were the only grandparent I connected with. It isn't an accident that you were the first person I hugged. (Meanwhile, I refused to go sit on my grandfather's lap, telling him, "I don't like you!" What can I say, I was born with good people sense.)

You continue to inspire me not to give up. I have so many more choices than you do. For that I have both gratitude and sadness.

You lived with so much shit you never should have had to live with, and now you are free.

I only wish I had told you how strong you were.

14 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

Vale Tootie.
And I hope, and am pretty sure, that she did know all of these things you didn't find the words to say.

Birdie said...

I’m glad you had someone to leave such a beautiful legacy. We need more Tootie’s in the world.

Ileana said...

My friend, your beautiful tribute really touched me. Something tells me she knew more about how you felt than you realize. Love and light to you! PS - See my text.

Lee said...

If only I had the words to express how your wonderful tribute has made me feel, RK.

A truly, emotive, beautiful tribute...words of thanks to your beloved, Tootie. She knows.....

Jono said...

At least you are telling her now. Tootie sounds like an amazing woman and even if no one else recognized it, you do.

Lynn said...

It sounds as if you were very important in her life. What a loving thing relationship you had.

G. B. Miller said...

And...that was a beautiful eulogy to what sounded like a truly wonderful and special person. It's wonderful to have a grandparent that we truly and unabashedly love deeply, and you were indeed fortunate have such a person in your life.

You have my most sincerest condolences for your loss as well as the profound ache you have in your heart.

George

LL Cool Joe said...

The velvet pinafore chocked me up. I'm really sorry for your loss. Yes Tootie is free now.

Granny Annie said...

And now I love Tootie. What a great tribute. I was not a hugger but I had a paternal grandmother that I would hug without reservation. Children know what person offers them safe haven in their arms. Your Tootie offered that to you. I am sad for your loss.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

A beautiful tribute. So sorry for your loss, Riot Kitty. You know, her strength and courage lives on in you because of the love, attention and validation that she made sure you had as a child.

Abby said...

What a touching tribute to a special grandma. I'm so glad you had her in your life. Rest in Peace, Tootie.

Kalpanaa M said...

I chanced upon your blog and this is the first post I read. It is a most beautiful tribute and I feel honoured to have been able to read it. Thank you for sharing. Rest in peace Tootie.

Mike_D said...

Nice.

Green Tea said...

I am sorry for your loss, been cruising the blogs to get away from the miserableness going on in this country. Wish you were closer so you could help me set up a new blog..