Mema

I didn’t want to listen to it, because then it would be real.

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I was talking with one of my best friends a few months ago about the losses I have endured and the pain that came along with them. One loss in particular was so monumental that I have yet to write about it like I have written about my mom and my brother. The loss I’m talking about is that of my grandmother, my Mema.

She and I did not always see eye-to-eye, because as I got older I pulled away from religion and Christianity, which was a core aspect in her life. She was a churchgoer, a lover of all things Jesus. I was heavily into religion growing up until I was around 13 years old. I’m talking singing at church, going to bible study, attending vacation bible school every year, and even going to a large camp-style event in North Carolina one year. I knew my bible better than most Christians, but it didn’t change the route I chose to take. Now, I’m not going to bash religion in this, but me going a different route in life in terms of religion put a small strain on our relationship. I wish sometimes that she had been able to understand where I was coming from, but I know she was from a much older generation, and it was hard for her to see things a different way.

Despite my issues with religion, I listened to her every time I visited. She would tell me that Jesus loved me, that I needed to return to Christianity, so on and so forth, and even though it bothered me, I still listened. Because at the end of the day, it mattered to her, and I knew I wasn’t going to have her forever.

Everyone in my family knew that her time was going to come sooner rather than later. My husband and I were told we could stay in her house and keep it up for her return, and if she didn’t return, we could continue to stay there. We both talked to her about her house every time we saw her, so she would know it was still okay. We told her about how we kept it as clean as 2 college students could, and she approved any changes we made before we made them.

When the day came that she was in the hospital for the final time, my mom told me she would only have a few days left. I had to make a decision. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made in my entire life: whether or not to go see her before she was gone.

I talked in great length with my mom about my Mema’s condition; about how she couldn’t recognize anyone hardly and was struggling to remember people. After a long time of thinking and talking about it, I decided not to go see her. It’s been years since then, and I still stand by my decision to not see her.

How could I possibly go see her in such a condition, where this amazing woman, whom I counted as a second parent, would not remember who I was? This woman, who had walked along the old railroad tracks in town with me countless times growing up; who took me out for ice cream every day after school during elementary and middle school; who stayed up with me many nights to watch America’s Funniest Home Videos; who gave me countless talks about my future and to not let any boy run it; who raised me in a way that I knew how to be a strong and independent person. I could not face a moment of her looking me in the eyes and not knowing who I was.

I am glad that the last time I saw her in person, she was doing well. We talked, and I sat by her bedside with my hand on hers. I remember how soft her skin was, and that she was still wearing her perfume. To this day, I know that perfume any time I smell it on someone or out somewhere. It instantly brings tears to my eyes, just as Phil Collins’ song “You’ll Be In My Heart” reminds me of my mom every time I hear it.

I wish I could relive that day.

I went to bed one October night, and when I woke the next morning, I had a voicemail from my mom. I sat in bed, staring at my phone until my husband woke up and noticed. He asked me what I was doing, and I told him I had a voicemail from my mom and that I knew what it was. That I didn’t want to listen to it, because then it would be real.

She died on the 17th anniversary of my brothers’ death. Now every year, when October 20th rolls by, I grieve them both.

Her visitation was one I dreaded. I knew there would be people there who didn’t really care about her, because they hadn’t visited her or talked to her in years. They were there for their 30 seconds of attention, and I accepted that before I went in. I had a few true friends by my side that night and I am still thankful for that today.

Her casket was closed, and was a beautiful baby blue. My mom told me I could shoo everyone out and visit with her alone, but I never did. I didn’t look at her or my mom when they were in their baby blue caskets, the same color that spread across my brothers’ picket fence surrounding his grave years ago. I held it together the entire night, until close to the end.

When everyone started trickling out, I took my moment to say goodbye.

I laid my hand on her casket, thinking about who was inside. I cried, and my mom noticed. My mom knew me so well, she asked everyone to just leave me alone. It was exactly what I needed.

I went to her funeral, and gritted my teeth through it. I listened to my mom cry her heart out, I listened to the preacher preach, I hugged those who wanted to be hugged. Afterwards, my husband and I picked up food from the seafood restaurant in town, and spent some time at my parents’ house. Then I went home, to face the inevitable.

Just driving into the yard, her yard, knowing she’d never be sitting on that front porch in her rocking chair ever again made my chest feel like it was imploding. I cried a lot after she died, and then when my mom died 2 months later, I felt like it was the end of the world. I’d lost 2 of the most important people in my life in such a short time span, it just didn’t seem fair.

A few months after they were both gone, it was time to start cleaning. The house was going into my name due to my Mema leaving it to my mom in her will. Because my mom died so soon after my grandma, it automatically went to my dad, who transferred it to me. He knew I would use it more than him, and he wanted to give me this one thing to help. I am eternally grateful, because spending those years in her house gave my husband and I the time we needed to get our lives truly started.

I spent weeks going through what everyone called the “junk room”. Furniture, clothes, old recipes stored everywhere. The room was so full that you could hardly walk inside. I saved the pictures, the recipes, the poetry. My Mema was a writer, just like I am. It’s a connection I’ll always have to her, just mine alone. There was a lot of crying, as you can imagine. But eventually, things were donated and things were stored. I climbed my way out of the worst of the grief, and entered a never-ending plateau.

It’s been over 4 years since she died, and I do not visit her grave. To me, she isn’t there. She lives on in the smell of freshly baked biscuits. She lives on in the stones we picked out and hid under the railroad bridge. She lives on in the cool, calming breeze that flies throughout that small southern town every morning. She lives on in my memories, in my heart.

Forever shall she be.

10 thoughts on “Mema

  1. What a nice tribute to your mema. You said you don’t visit her grave. Surely since she ultimately left you her home, you must have visited her to at least correct the “date of death”; the date of her passing on her tombstone? No? Yes? And with such a nice ‘gift’ from her as a genuine home which you lived in with your husband for “years”, and which as you said, “gave you and your husband the time you needed to get your lives started” . . . . you must have at least completed that task of registering her final day on her tombstone for her? Did you?

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    1. I don’t know you, and I don’t know what your problem is, but get over yourself. You already know the answer to your question, or you wouldn’t be asking it. No, I haven’t, and it’s crossed my mind every single day since her funeral. Last I checked, there are still several living family members and grandchildren of hers that are capable of fixing her death date on her grave, the same people who fought over who was going to get that house as she lived her final hours. Go harass them about it. Adding the day she died to her grave is the last thing on my mind when I still haven’t dealt with her dying in the first place.

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  2. Well of course you are so concerned Brittany . . . you have “thought” of doing it every day since her funeral. But you just haven’t had time. Wow. You certainly had to time to take over the “Find a Grave” memorial where you put your goofy picture up with the lady. Did you ever ask her whether she even liked that picture? Or did you assume that because you were in it, she would approve? Of course it’s the latter. Do you ask the rest of her family if they approved of the photo? And if they approved of your goofy mug being presented with their relative? (probably not)

    No, you don’t know me. But I know you. I’ve heard all about you throughout your life. Maybe one day we’ll meet and can discuss these matters in person. For now, you’re not worth looking up. However, to illustrate my opinion that you are just a self aggrandizing woman; let me give you a chance to prove otherwise. Let me ask you . . . .

    Have you provided a headstone marker for your mother’s grave? I know the answer is “no”. Do you think that’s also someone else’s ‘job’? Just like you haven’t seen fit to complete the gravestone marker for your grandmother. You just can’t do it. And you just don’t have the time. Whatever. Both your grandmother and mother died leaving you whatever they had in this world. Even a home. A house. But you can’t muster up the courage or the money or the time to handle these simple matters? Yet you want your ‘audience’ to believe as you write these stereotypical trite “poems” and such, that you ‘care’ SO much?

    You need to try harder. So far you’ve failed at providing both of them the finality of their needs. A simple headstone for your mother. A simple addition of date of death for your grandmother. So hard, huh? (rhetorical)

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    1. I’ve thought and thought about what to say back to this, despite my husband telling me I should just ignore your petulant behavior. You do realize that taking over a FindAGrave account takes like…30 seconds right? And you do realize that paying for a gravestone like what I want for my mom takes like…at least $1,500? I mean, sure, if you want to just send me the money for it then I’ll hop right on that, but until then, I have a child and a family who need the money more, and my mom would have understood that. My grandma would have also understood that it’s not my responsibility to address the lack of her death date on her grave. I’m most concerned with why this bothers you so much, Andrew “Andy” Hammond, a man over 50 years old, to find my blog and harass me repeatedly about it. If it bothers you so much, you are more than welcome to shell out the money to get a gravestone and fix my grandmother’s death date. It’s not that I don’t have time, but thank you so very much for assuming that. I simply do not see the point in it. Maybe because I am not religious, and you are striking me as the perfect example of a hypocritical bullshit-spouting Christian relaxing up on your high horse and shitting all over the people beneath you. My mom and grandmother are dead. They are not in those graves, they are gone. What happens to their graves does not dictate how much I love them, and they would have known that. In fact, since I knew them both personally in ways you certainly didn’t, I’m completely positive both of them would be disgusted by your behavior. Shame on you. I don’t think it’s someone else’s job to handle those matters, but you sure do like to assume things, don’t you? And please, insult my poetry that has been published on multiple poetry sites, in multiple poetry journals, and has earned me praise I never asked for. I’ll gladly direct you to the email addresses of the remarkable writers who have praised my work, and let them hand your ass back to you on a silver platter. I have no desire to speak to a man who is so astonishingly pathetic that they feel the need to harass me. And as for not looking me up, you sure found this blog, didn’t you? Pathetic, simply pathetic. And lastly, as for my “ugly mug”, which by the way great job at making yourself look like a middle school student trying to bully children, the man I’ve been married to for over 6 years would kindly disagree. Fuck off and find another way to pass your time.

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      1. You certainly do continue to prove your ‘true colors’ with your off-color vulgar response! I expected that. Maybe not quite as much, so congratulations! As for your “husband”; if he were worth a shit, he would be able to provide for his family and together the two of you could come up with the $1500 you say it would cost to do what you ‘say’ you ‘want’ to do for a gravestone for your mother. What’s it been. . . 5 plus YEARS?! So you couldn’t muster $300 each year in savings to fund such a memorial? So when you sold your grandmother’s home, there just wasn’t enough money in there for even a marker for your mom’s tombstone? Wow. You inherited from your mom her mom’s home and you had your education paid for by your mother’s efforts and you still can’t save $1500?! What a joke you are. WTF HAVE you managed to do besides get yourself knocked up and squander your mom’s and her mom’s inheritance? Whatever. Maybe one day your husband will earn enough money to take care of his family and you’ll have the resources to handle your responsibilities. I knew your grandmother very well. She was a friend before you were born. I know she did care a lot about you. I think she would wonder now WTH is so out of kilter with you that you can’t even accept the responsibility as her heir . . . the heir who she inadvertently left her home to . . . can not even muster the strength to put her final date on her tombstone? Thank God you didn’t have to provide the tombstone for her or it would never be in place! As for the “religious” aspect of it; conveniently you draw in some off the wall “Christian” reference which has nothing to do with what I have said to you. The fact is, I know you’re not “Christian”. You didn’t have to explain that at all. It’s obvious by the language you use and the disrespect you have for your own mom and grandmother that you are a fake who is looking for some sympathy with your “poor me” stories you call “poetry”! Maybe one day you will grow up.

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      2. Once again, your comment shows you know nothing about me to even be so judgmental. My husband makes enough money to provide a nice home and everything we need as a family, and dropping money on a tombstone just isn’t something we need. I’m sorry you find that so shitty, but the fact of the matter is you are weirdly obsessed with me and how I’m doing in my life. It’s pretty disturbing if I’m honest. I mean, I guess if you’re a bored old dude with nothing better to do, why not harass some girl a quarter of your age whom you’ve never had the balls to approach in person. You do you, man. I suggest getting your panties out of that twist though or you’re going to need to see a doctor, but judging from this weird obsession you’ve got going on, maybe you need that anyways. You’re going to have to realize one day that not everyone on the planet has to share your..values or ideals. Some people don’t equate a tombstone to the love one has for a soul, some people are obsessed with material things. It’s the way of life. If you paid half the attention to other people’s responses to my work as you do with hating me, you’d see I don’t write for anyone to feel sorry for me, I write to help others and heal myself. It’s a shame there are those few like you who don’t understand that. At the end of the day, I know how my Mema and mom felt about me and I know they’d be proud of the mother and person I’ve become. It’s your loss that you are too bitter to understand anything.

        Also, I have no idea why you think anyone paid for my education. No one paid a damn thing for me, and I pay for my student loans every month. And I also don’t know why you think I got any sort of inheritance? I didn’t get anything except the house, which was sold at a much cheaper price than it could have been because of the situation that was at hand, and frankly none of it is your nosy ass’s business in the first place. Again, you clearly don’t know any of what you think you do.

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      1. Andrew Hammond you are whats wrong witn society smfh if something ever happens to my daughter and shes not around you would be one of the first people on my list promise you fucking loser ass bum especially talking out your ass about things you have no clue about you have no fucking idea what that strong beautiful lady has went through smh wow seriously people like you need to be off this planet

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  3. Sorry Brittany zedalis not to you i was trying to message that sicko loser ass bum please excuse the language but people like that make me sick i would pay to have just 30 seconds with that guy smh

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    1. It’s ok Shane, as I’m sure you saw, I said quite a bit back to him too lol I know this man, Andrew, from my home town but I’ve never talked to him in my life before he found my blog and started posting his hate. He preaches about knowing my family so well, but I sure never saw him visit my grandma in all the years I lived with her, and she never once mentioned him. Funny how people always have lots to say in defense of the dead when they have no right to speak at all. I appreciate you responding to him too. It’s nice to see someone else sees the monster this Andrew guy is.

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