Daily Prompt: The Matriarch of my Family


Cousin It
Daily Prompt:  We all have that one eccentric relative who always says and does the strangest things. In your family, who’s that person, and what is it that earned him/her that reputation?

Grandma’s house off of Crenshaw Blvd in L.A. always smelled of old person and Lysol.  On the wall over her bathtub hung an enema bag.  I always wondered what exactly she did with it.  The coffee table had a glass bowl filled with lemon drops.  When we visited, we entertained ourselves by eating lemon drops and reading Prevention Magazine.

She sat in the same rocking chair, which faced a large floor TV.  Her face was cold as glass, and kissing her gave me the chills.  Our visits were quiet.  Most of the time she said nothing, and we said nothing past “How are you feeling, Grandma?  You’re looking good!”.  “I’m fine.”  Occasionally she’d say a word or two emotionlessly in broken Korean to my father, and he would answer with a word or two.  Sometimes after those words my father would get up and leave and we’d follow him out, without a good bye, to make the 1 1/2-hour trip back home.  Who knows what sorts of words would cause him to react like that.  Maybe “How’s your bitch?” (meaning my mother).  You see, Mom never visited.

Grandma loved TV soap operas even though she barely knew English.  In her broken English she would tell us who was good and who was bad and who was sleeping with whom.  It was obvious she was clueless, but it was good enough for her to watch the pictures and make up her own stories.

My grandfather worked away from home.  It’s no doubt the long separations from my grandmother were good for him.  He was my father’s step father, and a smart and gentle soul.  He not only taught English, he was an inventor of some sort and had a notebook full of drawings which undoubtedly are long gone.

No one knew for sure who my grandmother really was.  Her birth and marriage certificates all had radically different names.  It’s like she got tired of life and decided to spontaneously change her name and birth date from day to day.  That she lived a life free of crime would not make sense to me at all.  My grandmother was perfectly capable of murdering someone, not only because she might have been a fundamentally bad person, but because she was an undiagnosed psychotic, I’m sure of that now, looking back with hindsight.

When my step grandfather came home to die, she beat him with a belt for messing in the bed and then forced him to clean it up himself.  Lucky for him he did eventually die.

My father and his siblings hated each other.  The reason, from what I can tell, is that Grandma loved Dad and hated the other two.  She adored Dad to the point of making him special meals of steaks while the other two were given leftovers.  Dad was raised on a pedestal in front of his siblings, and they never forgave him for that.  After Dad married Mom, he could never understand why the world didn’t revolve around him, and he spent a good deal of the rest of his life having out-of-control temper tantrums.  He eventually died from heart failure.

When Grandma died, she was buried, somewhere in LA, with just the gravedigger in attendance.  I doubt if any other human being knows or cares where she is.

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Daily Prompt: The Matriarch of my Family

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