Normally, I cry at the drop of a hat. My over-emotionalism embarrasses my children, threatens my professional demeanor, and derails attempts to pretend that things are ‘fine’ when they’re clearly not. As I’ve said before, I’ve been known to cry at old Love Boat reruns, Tony Stewart winning a NASCAR race, and every single bar/bat mitzvah I’ve ever been to (I wept profusely and copiously at my son’s, of course.)
I just can’t seem to cry when it’s expected.
My cell phone rang while I was at work today. I was in the middle of a conversation, so let it go to voicemail – only to discover that it’d been my sister, calling from Maine.
She was calling to tell me that my grandmother – the woman previously immortalized in this post – had died earlier today.
It hadn’t been unexpected – she was 98 years old, and had been in a nursing home for the last few months. I hadn’t seen her in years – my family’s relationships tend to occupy this vaguely defined grey area that bounces between non-committal and dysfunctional. And there was nothing for me to do – there’s no way I can get back to Michigan for a funeral on Friday; no one even expects me to.
I left the office, quite sure that I’d have a meltdown- with an extra dose of guilt and regret as accelerants – if I stayed. Only there’s no meltdown happening.
I can’t seem to cry.
Sure, my throat gets that pre-cry tickle, my eyes well up and I start to sniffle a bit. But then the tickle goes away, the tears retreat, and I move on.
I throw myself right in the eye of the storm – I call my sister-in-law, speak to my sister, even call my dad. I get caught up on family news, and hear of other deaths I’d never been clued into before.
The stories start, the memories kick in.
There’s the time she bashed the outside faucet off the side of our brick house with my mom’s wood-paneled station wagon as she gunned it backing out of the driveway – only to blame my dad ’cause the faucet was ‘sticking out too far from the house’ (it wasn’t, of course.) We have several other scary stories of her legendary ‘hell on wheels’ driving exploits, which all have three factors in common: her refusal to use her side mirrors; her frequent lane changes; and a leadfoot not to be believed.
I realize my kids have no memories of her. I know I’m in for it when I tell Drama Mama later tonight. And still, the tears won’t come.
Maybe I need to go find a Love Boat rerun somewhere…