Tuesday, February 10, 2009


At the risk of this blog becoming a therapy session, I'm going to write about something in the hopes that a particularly troublesome recurring dream will finally stop. I don't know how interesting it will actually be for anybody to actually read it.

My grandma, Julia Cruciani (no, I'm not Italian - her maiden name was Castro - I'm Spanish, actually) passed away almost eight years ago. She had a Catholic funeral, at which I really didn't feel very comfortable. I guess since I wasn't raised Catholic myself, there's something about all of that ceremony that I don't find very comforting at all. Anyway, I don't think that I shed a single tear that day. I honestly don't think that I shed any tears over my grandmother.

Not too long before she died, my father had remarried. His new wife and her daughter were both terribly distraught at the funeral. (I suppose that they're my step-mother and step-sister, but it seems weird to call them that since I was an adult when they came into my life. It's not that I have anything against them, but it just seems strange.) Part of me worried about how they must think of me, seeing as how I didn't seem to be very sad at all. I also had a bit of a hard time with what was going on, as there seemed to be some revisionist history going on regarding the type of person my grandmother was. Looking back on it now, I don't hold any of that against them. After all, they knew a different person than I did, and they didn't have the same experiences as me. Had I come into my grandmother's life as late as that, I'd probably feel differently about her too.

There is much about my opinion about my grandmother that's colored by the experiences of others. It's very tempting to tell the stories that my mother told me, as well as the experiences of my sister (who I honestly don't remember crying either - but I could be COMPLETELY wrong about that - don't hold me to it). I'm going to try and avoid all of that, as difficult as it is, and just stick to what I experienced myself.

My first memories (for the most part) of her were from when I was five years old and my family had returned from being in Iran for 16 months. (My dad was working there, but that whole revolution in 1979 kinda put the kibosh on that.) Before that, I seem to recall speaking to her on the phone in Iran, but maybe I just remember the picture of me speaking to her on the phone and my parents telling me that's what that picture was. Anyway, my family and I lived with her in San Francisco for several months before we finally moved to a house in Concord.

I don't have a lot of specific memories, and this is where it's tempting to write about things that my mom told me about how she treated me. Still, I'm going to stick to my own recollection. With that, I only have brief flashes of events and a general impression of how I felt. I seem to remember one time her making dinner for my sister and me, and there was an incredible tension during that meal. I remember not wanting to finish what was on my plate and her being very displeased with that. Aside from that, the primary emotion that comes to mind when I think of that time is one of fear. No, she never hit or anything like that, but it's not like a lot of the other women in my life where I recall them being nurturing and loving.

After that time, I saw my Grandma on special occasions like Christmas and whatnot. For the most part, I don't have any negative memories of these times. I know that she would be on the outs with my parents for a period of time, and then things would be back to normal again. Oftentimes the thing that would create a lot of tension was when she'd be drinking. The only thing that I specifically remember is one time when I was twelve, we went to her house to celebrate my father's birthday. By the time we got there, she was passed out on the floor, drunk, and we had to call an ambulance. I'm pretty sure that there were other times like this, but I'm too young to remember them very specifically. Basically, when I recall my feelings at the time, "surprise" was not one of them.

At this point, I had originally written quite a bit more, but I started to ramble and lose sight of why I was writing this in the first place. Maybe I'll come back to it. Maybe I won't.


Ingrid said...

Some people don't elicit our tears at their death, because they made us shed too many during their lifetime.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

You may be right.