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Speak

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Those of us with the power to speak have to talk for those less fortunate who cannot; otherwise there voice, and their thoughts will be burnt out entirely. Right now every thing is over; my lip doesn’t quiver, I don’t fight the tears behind my eyes, squinting to keep the salty drops from cascading down my cheek. Nobody cries in church anymore as the sad hymns are sung, the whispered telephone calls have subsided, and the hospital bills quit coming. When I was two years old everything was perfect. My Grandmother seemed just like everybody else’s; only to me she was even better. That is where the happiness ended. By the time I turned four I began to realize things, things that weren’t normal. Things that I have kept a secret until now.

My short legs are swinging beneath me as I turn around and around in the chair, blurring my vision so that everything around me is merely wet paint, a swirl of colors and smells. Perhaps it would have been better for me to keep turning, continue to smudge my surroundings until nothing is clear, but I couldn’t. As the chair comes to a halt everything is back in full focus. She is motioning for me to get up, saying something with her words stammered and detached, inaudible through the pounding of my own heart drumming in my ears, and this is frightening me.

Things didn’t get better; instead they worsened as each year passed. Soon, I was seven, and her speech was going quickly. Now for anything to happen semi-efficiently, things in her mind had to be written on paper. She would point to the words scrawled in messy script and expect my young eyes to transpose the scratches into English, it was almost impossible.

Her temper was white hot; she had always been sharp, but now she was furious at everyone, no matter what you did for her. She couldn’t get out of bed, her back hurt, she needed this and that, and it was never good enough. She hated my grandfather for spending every hour of his day tending to her, but she didn’t understand that.

It was, too much for us to handle so; she was put in the care of a nursing home. The first time I visited her I was frightened of my surroundings and frightened of the future, what it would hold. “Judy” Grandpa calls into the room, pushing open the door softly. She screams, and yells for him to leave. She never wants to see him again. The world around me is spinning, and, instead of chills climbing up my spine, I feel hot, like blue flames are licking at my shoulder blades. “Mom, its Lynn” Mommy murmurs into the dark room, lights are flickering; I suppose a T.V is on.

She is sitting up in bed, watching the shopping network on the television. Her hand is touching mine; I am stiffly hugging her I fell bones jutting out of her back. Mom is tearing up along with Daddy, as my eyes remain dry. Grandpa is outside sobbing, just wanting to be loved, appreciated. She doesn’t speak, just mumbles a little. When she wants something, she tries to write it, gets frustrated and cries, pounds on the table, knocking prescriptions over, sending medicines that do not seem to work toppling to the cold, grimy floor.

She refuses to eat, ninety pounds drops to eighty, eighty- to seventy, and down again; a feeding tube is inserted. The nursing home didn’t seem to understand either, no one could figure out what was happening to my Grandmother. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota got a hold of her records, tracking everything they possibly could. Grandpa didn’t help. He was denying things, not offering the information that they desired, that they needed to make her better. She still wanted out, and thought she was perfectly fine. She wanted a house, a car, a ring, a divorce, still hating him for all of this, believing it was entirely his fault.

The clinic wanted to complete some examinations. When they put the I.V in her wrist, she screamed, ripping at the chords, pulling them free of her pale flesh; that day they deiced she had dementia. That was not it though, there had to be something else…
I can remember the smell if I close my eyes, the tangy stale sweetness in the air, the green olives, ice chinking on glass, she would drain the cup, and then ask for more… Alcoholism is what they diagnosed.

A hospice home is a place where they put people who will die soon. They are expected to live there for only a few months or but; she was there for three years. We would come to visit; I would smile at her, just like when I was two, when everything was perfect, when all went right.
I picked her flowers everyday; I would run along the sides of the building, trying to make a beautiful bouquet, spending at least an hour plucking at the sweet smelling daisies. Racing back to her chair, holding the buds out to her she would glace at them, accept, and set them down next to her. Minute’s she’d go back inside, leaving the flowers lying there to wilt with her granddaughter’s heart. Each day I would try to make the flowers prettier and prettier, hoping that one day she would keep them. She never did.

“Judy, I baked you some cookies, they come from a box, but it was the best I could do.” I smile, explaining to her how much effort I had put into the peanut butter crisps. She didn’t touch my cookies, they weren’t to her liking, she had decided they were too sweet without taking one bite. That afternoon, as we walk out of her dark room, she throws a fit. Storming about us leaving, crying and screaming about how she wanted us to stay. But we couldn’t. We had to go home. It was time to say goodbye. I was scared and wanted to go to bed.

Sitting in the back of the truck, I stare out the window, looking into the sunroom with the large glass panes. “Mommy” I whimper, pointing to the clear wall. There she stands, banging her fists on the glass, begging us to take her home, crying for our mercy. We drove away that afternoon. The sun was low in the sky, and I was scared out of my mind, but nobody knew for I wouldn’t tell them.

I grew up surrounded by boys; I had to prove myself. I wouldn’t cry. Tears to me were like surrendering, like giving up, and I wasn’t ready to do that yet; I thought that perhaps someone would create a miracle that year that someone would keep her alive.

Nobody created any miracles, and she left us all scarred and torn. I stayed quite, remained silent through my entire life about her, not telling anyone that I was frightened, that I wanted to cry, that my body was splitting in two with the pain of it all. Somehow to me, being heartless, emotionless through those years was a brave, strong thing to do, just like the boys. And still, I have never cried in school, never cried in front of anyone, not for anything.

The ability to speak freely is a blessing; I used to think that I always appreciated that. My lack of communication, lack of words through all those hospital visits, my blank expression when they asked me how I felt proves that I made the wrong choices for thirteen years. Grandma could not speak, it was impossible for her to muster a full, clear sentence, yet she tried, she made endless efforts to communicate, to get out what she was trying to say, when I, an able -bodied speaker remained silent.





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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

someone's mom said...
Sept. 7, 2008 at 5:42 pm
Nicely written, I appreciated the expression of true emotion in you writing. Keep writing. Let someone check you work for typos - they distract the reader... I hope you submit something else soon!
 
lanes said...
Sept. 6, 2008 at 8:32 pm
Heay! this was so amazing! i loved it!
 
frecklegirl said...
Sept. 6, 2008 at 8:31 pm
Oh gosh this was amazing! i loved it, the words were so powerful! thanks for a great peice! Plese write more, i love your work!!
 
lextex said...
Aug. 27, 2008 at 1:03 am
This is so powerful, i loved it. wow so great.
 
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