Saturday, April 21, 2007

Curtain Call

Not for me, just in case anybody was alarmed.

I've spent much of this week hanging out with my 97-year old Grandmother. We call her Granny. And when I say "we" I mean the entire population of Hippyville calls her Granny. She's lived here for almost 30 years and she's always been one of those people who attracts others to her.

But for me Granny is also a role model. In many ways, but specifically I'm talking in the area of being a single woman. Because she has been single for the majority of her life. By choice, I think.

See, Granny had a Husband, with whom she had 3 kids. But after a while the Husband found another woman, in another town, for whom he could be a hero. And the Husband needed that. He was a man who really needed a woman who needed him. Husband liked being needed, being necessary, being someone's hero. Unfortunately for the Husband, his greatest love was a woman who could absolutely take care of herself. She was independent, strong willed... she was a f*cking force of nature.

So here was the Husband, with a wife who was the envy of all who knew them and by far one of his biggest selling points to friends, neighbors, clients. and also with a mistress in a nearby town who satisfied for him the need to be needed. And the poor, sad man couldn't make up his mind. No matter how much Granny did for him, in running his home and raising his kids and helping him build a business and being his partner. No matter all of that, because the Mistress did the one thing that Granny couldn't do: the Mistress couldn't get along without the Husband.

Eventually Granny laid down the law and confronted the Husband about his extra relationship. He tried to sell her on the idea of them all living together (because apparently he was living in a fantasy universe) and Granny responded as any reasonable woman would (glass ashtray to the head.) And they divorced, and Husband married Mistress (now Wife Mark 2) and they had a couple of kids of their own. They had their lives and they both had their deaths and Granny marches on.

One time when I was young I asked Granny about Husband. I hadn't really known him and he died when I was fairly young, but I couldn't figure out what could have happened there. Granny said it in her words, and they were this: "Husband wasn't happy because I didn't need him. I chose him. I wanted him. I loved him. But I didn't need him. And that was what he desired most of all." And here I am, at the age of almost 40 having never met a man that I needed. In fact, I pride myself on being independent. Strong willed. I'm working still on "force of nature." And if that means that I also stay single because I can't find a way to need a man, or a man who doesn't need to be needed, then so be it.

Granny is super, super old. She hasn't really been the Granny that I knew for a couple of years, and especially the last 6 months. She's had some health scares, some trips to the hospital, some time in rehab facilities... She doesn't eat much or drink much or follow conversations or do much else. Yesterday the parents brought her back to her little Granny flat, built on the back of their house, so that she can wrap things up at home.

I was sitting in her room this morning around 2am, checking that her chest was moving and counting down the 2 hours until I'd have to roll her over again, and I hated that this frail thing was the force of nature I'd enjoyed sparring with my whole life. But when you are as strong as she is, and you decide you're sticking around as long as you can, that's what happens. Still, no matter. Because more then anything I will remember Granny as the woman who taught me that you can want, you can love, you can choose, but it's ok if you don't need. If you can take care of yourself, you get that much more freedom in your world.

But for right now I'm going to take care of her. I'll check in as much as I can, but I'm gonna take care of her.

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