I hope I cry
I Hope I Cry
This series of scanographs is dedicated to my grandmother. What follows is the abridged story of her life that these images illustrate.
My grandmother had a rough childhood. As one of seven children, she felt unloved and pushed aside. Her mother was physically abusive. Her father was an alcoholic. She was 13 when he accidentally shot and killed her older brother. Soon after, she moved in with her boyfriend’s family. At 15, she moved away for good.
Shortly after, she met the man who would become her first husband. All was well at first, but he soon displayed all of the worst qualities of her parents – he was an abusive alcoholic. When she was 19, she gave birth to their first child (my mother). The second was born a year later. Their third arrived three years after that. Three years later, she was raped by her sister’s boyfriend, resulting in her fourth and final pregnancy.
Her husband didn’t believe her claim of rape and attempted to cause a miscarriage through repeated blows to her abdomen among other things. When these attempts failed, he swore that he would throw the baby in the furnace when it was born. To save her child’s life, my grandmother had the hospital induce labor and she gave the baby up for adoption, never seeing it or even knowing its gender. This entire situation was so traumatic that she blocked it from her mind completely.
She eventually divorced her first husband and met her second. What followed were several decades of relative happiness. She delighted in the births of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren who knew her to be a happy, kind person who always had a smile on her face and would do anything for her family.
Fast forward to 1996. While my grandmother did not recall having a fourth child, my mother was old enough to remember. With the advent of the internet came unlimited opportunities for research and investigation. No sooner had she registered with a service matching adopted children with their birth families than she received a possible match. We found her long lost half-brother. My grandmother was resistant at first and was forced to reconcile thirty-three years of suppressed emotions, but eventually came around. Her family was complete and she was overjoyed that he understood her reasons and even thanked her for saving his life.
Around 2010, it was clear that my grandmother’s mind was slipping. My step-grandfather couldn’t handle the responsibility and left her for her best friend.
These days, most of her words are nonsense and gibberish. Dementia has robbed her of her coherency. Every once in a while, we are gifted with a hint of her true self. She’ll say something snarky or do something silly. The times I treasure most are when she smiles her beautiful smile and says my name. That’s when I see the woman I remember.
My boyfriend’s grandmother suffered from the same disease. He didn’t cry when she died because he felt like he’d already lost her years ago.
The thing I worry about most is that my grandmother will die alone. I want to be there holding her hand when it happens. I hope she passes knowing that she is surrounded by love. But most of all, I hope I cry.