cw: domestic violence
The hospital was massive, as I had expected, considering the rumored status of my uncle and his monthly paycheck. But regardless of all the grandeur of a corporate-backed hospital (or perhaps because of it), in my eyes, my grandfather was still a tiny skeleton with dried skin clinging to his bones. He seemed so small and still, next to the machines that hovered over him and sketched out his heart rate in a bright green line, 96 times a minute.
I wish there were some kind of guideline on How To Visit Your Abusive Grandfather In The Hospital Where He Is Dying. I couldn’t figure out if I wanted to yell at him or cry. My aunt kept telling me to say I loved him and that I missed him. To tell him to go to a good place.
I just kept thinking about my grandmother who had foamed at the mouth because of how much my grandfather had beat her. And how that very aunt had left my grandmother in that state and driven home.
When my mother mentioned visiting my grandfather at the hospital, my grandmother yelled at her and bawled. Traitor, she repeated over and over again. My mother had betrayed her by going to see my grandfather in the hospital while she had no one. She called my mother names and exploded in a way that I had never seen her do. She spat out words that would have scraped out the inside of my heart if my own mother had said them to me.
When she was done, I told my grandmother the truth. That I saw bits of my grandfather in her. That even though he wasn’t living with her anymore, he was still there, and she needed to get him out. He was destroying her life even without his physical presence.
I suppose that I discovered something like my own naivety today–a bit of myself that I had been keeping from the world and even myself. Somewhere tucked away behind the bitter feelings towards the world, I had hung onto this unusual belief that our lives will eventually make sense. That we would find closure. That the life of our stories would follow a gentle rising action, climax, and an eventual resolution — and that even if it didn’t feel like it would, it wasn’t the end. Maybe it was because I wished my grandmother peace after all this. But with each day, seeing my grandfather’s condition worsen and my grandmother lose her ability to live independently, I wonder if it was just my own idealism preventing me from seeing the truth. That in some twisted way, my grandmother and grandfather had grown to need each other in their lives.