You know my grandma is less than fond of me, right? And that I’m one of just two grandchildren, but that does not matter to her? And that she has pretty much picked a favorite out of each family group and ignores or is incredibly mean to the other one? For example:
Mary and Paul, her children: Grandma has said in the past that my mom is her favorite, but she thinks Uncle Paul hung the moon, so guess who gets “punished” when she’s in a bad mood? She screams at Mom, accuses her of all kinds of wrongdoing, hangs up on her mid-phone call, and tosses lots of other passive-aggressive behaviors her way.
Kathy and Jen, her only grandchildren: Unapologetically, Kathy’s her favorite. She was good to me when I was little, but the older I got, the meaner she was to me. No one’s exactly sure why; it’s as if she doesn’t think she has the ability to love us both. She’s been close to a nervous breakdown when she thinks Kathy’s mad at her; she invents stories of hostile behavior on my part to turn things back on me and justify her “tremendous hurt and anger.” How does this make me feel? Meh, whatev.
Sean and Stephen, Kathy’s sons: She favored Sean for years because Stephen was defiant and noisy. Then she realized he liked music (Grandma loves music when she feels like saying she loves music) and decided he was her favorite. She doesn’t talk to Sean. She says she calls and leaves him messages and that he never returns her calls. Sean says she never calls. Guess who I believe?
Katie and Jack: She definitely favors Jack, but she’s still nice to Katie. Pretty sure she’ll find a reason to dislike Katie any day now. I’m hoping she dies before she starts being mean to my daughter. I’d love to say I am kidding.
Because of my relationship with my grandma, there was some debate over how much we should tell her about my cancer. I mean, she would undoubtedly be worried; she may hate me but she kinda loves the family drama. It was a bigger concern that she would torment my mother about it all. She would find a way to make my mom feel bad about making open-ended visits to my house—I mean, how can Grandma be expected to deal with the uncertainty of when she would next have Mom nearby to verbally abuse in person? And just the general questions about my health that she would bug my mom with, not having the common sense to call me herself with those questions, etc… gah.
It was decided this past week, then, that Uncle Paul and Claire would share the news with Grandma. I thought this was really quite generous of them. They went over to her place and, unwittingly interrupted Grandma’s bingo-prep time. They told her about my diagnosis and planned treatment and while she seemed concerned, she rushed them off so she wouldn’t be late to bingo. One cannot be late to bingo, you know.
If it had been Kathy, she would’ve been in such despair at the news, she would have forgotten how to spell B-I-N-G-O.
The next day, when I was at lunch with Lori, Sunshine and Kim, Grandma called my phone. I let it go to voice mail because why would I interrupt a perfectly enjoyable lunch with a phone call from my evil grandmother? Later, when I listened to the message she left, I was not at all surprised:
Hi Jen, I meant to dial your mom. Sorry.
Hope you’re feeling OK. Bye.
Oh yeah. She cares. I’m glad we put so much thought into how she would be told.