my grandmother got a blood clot in her eye when she was 36. it permanently damaged her vision, leaving her with a viewpoint that she likens to looking through an unsteadily held kaleidescope with a cracked lens.
i never knew this. that when she read all those biographies i lent her, the words were tap-dancing through a tie-dyed haze. i didn't know until last christmas, when my grandfather was in the hospital and my grandmother nearly engaged the hematologist in fisticuffs because he didn't concur with her views on plavix. suddenly all everyone talked about was the Great Blood Clot of '65, and finally i understood why my grandmother owned a buick she didn't drive.
my grandfather is in the hospital again.
my father called this morning and, in the frenzied timbre his voice takes on in times like this when he hasn't slept or stopped thinking for 32 hours straight, he said it was scary. scarier than the last time.
which is scary because last time was the scariest thing any of us had ever seen.
he talked about pawpaw. about my mum. about the ICU visitors policy. he asked about me. and i asked about my grandmother.
my gran burvil. age 81. 4 feet 9 inches. 92 pounds.
this is the woman who rescued me from swimming lessons and the harding academy summer camp.
she loves birds and the color blue.
she makes the best spaghetti in the south.
she wheels my grandfather's medicines around in a rollarboard.
afraid of the computer, she typed out two copies of his complete medical history on her IBM selectric- one went in her wallet, one in her bible.
she once threatened to ditch the ridgeway baptist church golden agers group on the side of highway 78 because they were talking shit about mississippi.
this is my grandmother.
the irish farmer's eldest daughter.
we are a lot alike. yankee brat that i am, a little mississippi farm girl still slipped in.
we had a fight this past christmas. our first in years. because she was sad and i was sad and, after enduring a tutorial on how to properly cut bananas, i had the audacity to pour the pudding into the trifle wrong, making everything go kaboom.
(in true eaton family fashion, there are pictures and they are lovely.)
we apologized the next day, both of us blubbering as we stood together in the dark of her sewing room, surrounded by scraps of the fabrics from the dresses of my childhood, a tiny streak of early morning sunlight streaming in through the window, highlighting the hint of red that still dapples her hair.
when i hug her now, she's skin and bones. fragile like a kitten. yet still, somehow, tough as nails.