Sunday, October 27, 2013

A third bowl of cereal .....

Time marched on towards the inevitable .....
In 1967, I was in 6th grade, and we had started family counseling.  This was, no doubt, a result of the behaviors I'd exhibited over the previous few years.  This included frequent lying, disobedience above and beyond what's "normal" for an adolescent, plus the extremely disturbing violence I'd shown toward my peers (and younger children).

Beyond that, though, I wasn't aware that anything different was happening.  So, one morning in early November, I was surprised to find myself awakened for school by my Grandfather, since that was something my Grandmother always did.

He told me she was sick and was going to the hospital, and that I should fix my own breakfast and get myself ready for school.  I got dressed and poured myself a bowl of cereal, and then a second bowl -- a not unusual amount for me to eat.

The Monkees ..... <*swoon*>

When the doorbell rang, I went to answer it.  Looking through the glass, I was frightened by the sight of a police officer standing there.  Instead of letting him in, I backed away and hid behind the main stairs.  The doorbell rang a second time and my Grandfather hurried down the stairs, scolding me for not letting the officer in.  As he was greeting the officer, I heard my Grandmother call for him.  She sounded scared herself, and my Grandfather and the officer rushed upstairs.

As they went upstairs, I headed back to the kitchen and, after a moment's consideration, poured myself a third bowl of cereal.

I needed comfort that my Grandfather was unable to give me that morning.

My grandmother had a complete set of Blue Willow china.  She made up a
story based on the figures portrayed in the design, and I always loved hearing her tell it.

I don't remember seeing my Grandmother taken out of the house that morning.  My guess is that I left for school before the ambulance arrived.  I didn't know it at the time, but when she called out that morning, it was the last time I'd hear her voice.

My uncle arrived either that day or the next, having flown in from the East Coast.  They told me that she was very ill, but not HOW ill; and I didn't understand the significance of my uncle's presence.  The next day, my grandfather told me that my grandmother wanted me to come see her in the hospital.  I refused to go.

How I wish now that I had gone.  It was a chance for us to say our good-byes, and I missed it.  For nearly 50 years I've felt incredible guilt that I didn't honor her last request.  But no one explained the magnitude of the situation and I was just 10 years old and oh-so-scared.