“I wouldn’t be caught dead in public without my red lipstick.” This is the line I thought of last night at 2:26 a.m. when I repositioned myself so I was lying on my back with my “dead arm” lying across my stomach and my left hand resting on top of it; one of two sleeping positions I can be in without a lot of pain in my shoulders (total AGONY – I’m seeing a doctor next Thursday).
I hate this position because it always reminds me of my grandmother and her red lipstick.
2:28 a.m. I know Kelly is okay (I talked to her three times today). Ralphie said he is usually asleep by 1:00 a.m. and Kip said they were going for a 20 mile run tonight so they will definitely be too tired to do the Friday night IV party thing, BUT if they are running together then only one of them can be wearing the florescent green jacket I gave them for running at night, and it’s Friday night, what if . . . .STOP.
2:31 a.m. “I wouldn’t be caught dead in public without my red lipstick,” crept back into my head. I gently picked up my right arm with my left hand and rolled over on to my stomach, letting my right arm drop down the side of the bed (the other position).
2:35 a.m. The final conversation I had with my dad was over the phone. He called from Arkansas to tell me he thought the best thing to do was to bring Grandma back to California with him. My instantaneous reaction was “No!” Remember, all of my dad’s worldly possessions were in his blue Hyundai in our driveway, I had two toddlers and Ralphie on the way, and I knew that Grandma was not going to be living in a blue Hyundai (or staying with my mom and her new husband). His very last words to me were, “We’ll talk about it later.” We know how that worked out (see previous post).
2:40 a.m. If people had waited to die until I was in my fifties, I could have handled things a lot better, but almost all of the older relatives (except my mom, thanks Mom for staying healthy and taking those Zumba classes) ended up sick and dying when I was in my thirties and had three young kids (and decided to get my masters degree and go back to work full-time), so I really did a half-assed job at everything especially taking care of my grandma and planning funerals (it wasn’t until two years ago when I was driving past the Lake Tahoe Community Presbyterian Church that I realized that I had held my dad’s funeral at the wrong church which explains why the minister and church people at Sierra Community Church had no idea who he was – sorry).
2:43 a.m. My grandma was not an easy person to take care of, “The food is sorry, the table is sorry, no need to leave a tip for that sorry girl, your hips are sorry, your motherin’ is sorry – do not spank Kip again Grandma – your kitchen is sorry, don’t go changin’ the channel, the picture turns a sorry color when you do it (she duct-taped the controls).” Every week was a new crisis. She had a “spell,” I hired a caregiver, she fired her, repeat. She was in a car accident – I begged her to stop driving, “What if you hit a little kid with your car?” “I’ve got insurance!” (Oh yeah, duh). After the accident, she went to court, “I got all gussied up, had my hair done real black, I looked real young. That judge made me pay $25.00 and I got to keep my driver’s license.” A typical conversation would start with, “If I tell you something, will you go to worryin’?” and would end with a variation of “. . . they had to pick the ceeement outta my head.”
2:44 a.m. Eventually, she needed to move into an assisted living home. I flew to Arkansas to help her with the move (living in California lasted less than a month – it was “too cold”). As we were driving over the exact spot my dad was killed, she was rifling through her purse, a shiny white patent leather triangular bag with a worn metal clasp, looking for her gold tube of bright red lipstick, “I wouldn’t be caught dead in public without my red lipstick.” We were on our way to dinner, I was hungry, I didn’t want to go all the way back to the trailer park to find her lipstick, and I was a little frustrated that she was thinking about the color of her lips at that particular moment. I convinced her to forget about her lipstick and we continued to on to the sorry restaurant. She had blackberry cobbler a la mode for dinner (now that I’m in my fifties and know about elderly people and their taste buds, I get this, but in my thirties, I didn’t have a clue).
2:47 a.m. I took her back to my hotel and she stretched out on the bed. Her eyes were closed, and her hands were folded across her chest. Without her lipstick she looked dead.
2:53 a.m. She died 10 months later, at age 86 (from the spider bite). I totally botched the funeral, but at least I got the right preacher; Brother Leroy. I babbled something at the podium, incoherently I’m sure, about trying to make my grandmother happy after my dad died. In between sobs, Brother Leroy would hand me a wet hanky that I had watched him blow his nose in a few minutes earlier as he was giving the eulogy (which of course included a warning that we were all going to rot in hell unless . . . I always stop listening when people tell me I’m going to rot in hell because I know I’m not).
2:58 a.m. It took me many, many years to come to peace with my relationship with my grandmother during that six year time period between my father’s death and her death. She had a really hard life which ended with her only child being killed three days after her husband died. Unfortunately, I was too consumed by my own pain, to help her with hers. She had every right to be cranky.
Plus I screwed up her funeral.
3:00 a.m. I roll back over on my back, arms crossed over my chest. “I wouldn’t be caught dead in public without my lipstick.” Ugh, I hate this position, I try to put my arms under my head, ouch!
3:08 a.m. “Flora just doesn’t look natural,” Winnie says to Ethyl as they pass by her coffin. “Where is her lipstick? She wouldn’t be caught dead without her red lipstick.”
3:11 a.m. I’ve got to get this shoulder problem fixed soon.