Sunday Night Bitchfest


I have three more minutes until this qualifies as a “Monday Morning WhythehellamIstillawake Bitchfest”, so here we go.

I am an ageist; that is, I severely dislike old people as a demographic group. While there are several exceptions to my loathing, I maintain now and forever that if I ever become one of “those” old people — the ones who hold on to nothing save for a sense of entitlement to any and every exemption purely by virtue of being old, or who pretend that age equals superiority, or who commit any of the other myriad sins not particular to, but co-opted by, the AARP echelon of society.

But tonight’s Bitchfest (officially Monday now) is not about all old people, or even most. No…this is dedicated to my grandmother.

My grandmother is going to be 83 years old in just under two weeks. She denies having it, but she’s exhibited signs of Alzheimer’s for years and, regardless of official diagnosis, is batshit crazy. If you have a conversation with her on Monday morning, by Monday afternoon she has conveniently (for her) forgotten everything you’ve said and will commence haranguing you with her version of events unless you ignore her or until you relent.

If that was all, I could probably accede to limited contact at high volumes with the consolation that she’s really a sweet old lady and she just can’t help it…but she isn’t. She is a weepy, bitter old woman who clings to her narrow-minded view of religion to impose her dated and bigoted opinions on those around her. For example: interracial couples should “keep that to themselves”, and she would rather have an LGBT grandchild than one who marries outside their race. (You know, just so we have an idea of the “Hierarchy of Sin”.) Also, on my last visit to her angst-ridden abode in October, she implored me to “not have children outside of wedlock,” because they would face disadvantages and “have it so hard…”

Um, hi, this is 2011. Children born within a marital relationship may still have the statistical edge, but as far back as 2007 more than forty per cent of children were born out of wedlock and I’m pretty sure that those numbers are holding steady. Of course being a parent before we’re married isn’t how we plan to do things, but no matter when our family grows we’ll be committed and loving parents — with or without rings on our fingers.

I try to just ignore her. Her phone number is set to go straight to voicemail so I can respond to her on my own time rather than being ambushed when I pick up a call expecting to talk to my dad, who lives with her. Unfortunately, my dad sometimes feels like I’m ignoring him, but I reach out to him — and that’s an entirely different story. The most recent voicemail, however, drove me over the edge and into this timely tirade:

“Hi Shannon, this is about the third time I’ve tried to get ahold of you. Would you give me a call. It’s your grandma in [city redacted], remember me?” (emphasis mine)

Ahem. Who the everloving fuck do you think you are? I know that you’ve been blowing up my phone over the last week, and your continued encounters with my voicemail should be an indication that I. Don’t. Want. To. Talk. To. You. And what was this pissy message about, anyway?

Oh yeah. She wants me to return the menorah that she gave to me (yes, as in a gift) when I decided to convert to Judaism. The only thing she had to say about it at the time was “if you ever decide to get rid of it, please see that it makes its way back here instead of giving it away.” Not “if you decide not to convert” (which was the case) or “when I wake up one morning and decide that I want it back” (which apparently is also the case), but if and when I choose to divest myself of it.

For me it isn’t worth the argument. It is a beautiful piece, to be sure, but if she wants it back that damn badly then I’ll send it to her — after I’m moved and settled and pull it out of the box that it’s been packed in for three weeks. And then she can spend the rest of her bitter days alone save for the company of her precious menorah, and the occasional encounters with my dad when he isn’t at work.

As for me, I’ll focus on the grandma that doesn’t suck — maybe she can restore my faith in the elderly.

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One comment

  1. My good grandma died like 10 years ago… now, when I think of her, I realize how much I have in common with her personality-wise.
    My other grandma apparently never wanted me to be born. She’s very cold toward me. When I visited in 2005, and one night my dad went out drinking after he’d promised he wouldn’t, she acted as if I was supposed to have expected that to happen – almost like it was my own fault for hoping for a real dad. She wasn’t understanding or loving or caring. When I first arrived there, she didn’t even hug me.
    I have since found out from my mom that my grandma was pissed off at HER for getting pregnant with my brother and me. She was okay with Brian, the first-born, but she basically disowned Nick and me before we were born.
    Some old people are just messed up (and often less mature than a child).

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