Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Girls

The big news in my family right now is that Poppy has gangrene covering his foot. I don't feel sorry for the stinky old bastard. I mean really, if he wanted me and my sisters to give a shit when his feet were all brittle and dead, he probably should have given a shit about us.

The fact is, however, that he and Nonny never really did give a shit. They didn't show up at the hospital when any of us girls were born. They never missed the boys. The day I came into this bright and snow-fucked world, my dad called to tell them the news, and they were all, "A granddaughter? Congrats. We'll talk to you later, we're going to Jay's ball game."

My dad's first child, born just miles from their house, and they blew me off for a ten-year old's basketball game eight towns over.

We're girls, after all, and were never much use to him. It mattered more to us as kids, wondering why Poppy and Nonny never came to our softball-soccer-basketball-swimming-karate competitions, and hit up every single game of our male cousins.

Visiting the grandparents was always boring at first. I think the feelings were mutual, there: Poppy and Nonny would hug us, say hello look at how big you are how's school --- Oh, Little Tony! You're growing up to be quite a man. I hear this about baseball, and stuff about art, and let me show you a bunch of bullshit, here's five dollars, come with me into the other room…

But then it got exciting, because their house was full things that we weren't supposed to touch that we totally touched anyway, and there were off-limit rooms and a sweet park down the street.

Coincidentally, the park was named after Poppy Coach, for his fine services on the police force and to the community.

The grandparents were never violent, never mean to us. They didn't hate us. They just didn’t need us.

Recently, this was brought to the attention of the entire family during the Great Rossi Brawl of Christmas '08 (oh, there's one every year).

You see, me and my cousin, Rob, carried Poppy down the stairs together and placed him in his chair. Poppy thanked us, blatantly gave Rob twenty dollars, and rolled away. I just shook my head. It's pointless to start arguments about it, because you're not going to change the mind of an eighty-six-year old diabetic man, a local hero, a man who played for the Chicago Bears for four months, a man who talks about World War II like he was there (he was in the army, but never left the States).

I spent half my childhood trying to be a boy for that man, wishing he paid more attention to me. I know there's no convincing him. At this point in my life, I wouldn't take it from him anyway.

But this time, people noticed, and then there's a two-hour argument, and my uncle learned that this has been going on for years, and Poppy called The Girls "ungrateful snots," and eventually Uncle Dick slapped the diapered, wheelchair-bound patriarch. I don't think he ever sided against Poppy before.

And then there was a family discussion, where we had to tell stories, like about that one time Poppy handed a fiver to Rob, kissed Katsisch on the forehead, and handed five dollars to each of the boy twins. Katsisch started crying, silently, and Rob ripped his cash in half and shared with her. Like I said: Nonny and Poppy loved and encouraged us as much as they thought was necessary.

Anyway. So now, his foot is rotting away. I saw him on Easter. I'll visit him again, out of respect for my dad, who is freaking out.

Poppy let the gangrene spread, because he believed he was man enough to will it away. This is a man who knows fully well when he pisses all over himself, but refuses to admit it, and furiously denies the fact that his chair is soaked in urine. This man was too proud to use a walker, so for ten years Nonny would walk next to him, head bowed slightly, Poppy's hand pushing on the back of her brown wrinkly neck like it was his cane. I blame him for her shrinking.

Oh, I could write so much more about their fucky relationship. Even though I know they're addicted to each other, completely devoted. I'm pretty convinced when one is gone, the other will be soon behind. They've been together since they were eleven and twelve.

But I don't feel sorry for him, and I don't give a shit about his foot or how he feels about it. Nonny's completely senile and doesn't know who anyone is anyway. I just feel like a complete ass, because in the back of my head, for the sake of my dad's sanity and mine...I hope the bastard dies soon.



Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm speechless.

Well, not exactly.

Growing up, my grandmother treated me better than my two sisters. I got the cool presents, and everything they got matched . . . just different colors. To this day, she says she loves them. But I'm still the one. They've pulled away. I hate being in the middle. I try to discourage any sort of favoritism, tell her how much they love her and need her, but she's old and doesn't listen so well. Never has.

They'll be there when she goes. But I doubt they'll miss her . . .

Anonymous said...

Like tysdaddy said...wow...reminds me of my MIL. Christmas 2007. I spend a fortune on a basket filled with fancy imported tea...stuff she can't get in her corner of Appalachia. "oh" she says. "How nice." Then she opens a present from the EX-daughter-in-law. More tea. Fucking Earl Grey she can buy at the Krogers down the street. "Ohhhhh....Earl Grey...I love Earl Grey..." Pass the wine.

Anonymous said...

bitter, nasty and bile-encrusted old people suck. yet we endure the bullshit... if your Nonny goes first, let me know. i'll fix up Poppy with my mom... [damn. inside my head thoughts. right.]

Mia Watts said...

Totally needed this post today. Stuff sucks sometimes.

~Mountain Lover~ said...

I often wonder if I'll regret not talking to my grandparents more. The only reason I visited them is for my grandpa. The two remaining ones- well. Let's just say, I could be a fucking millionaire, best cardiac surgeon in the nation, have a family, white picket fence, send her money, etc. And she'd STILL find something to criticize me about and not-so secretly like me the least of all the kids.

formerly fun said...

In my family the boys are all fuckups but grandparents make every excuse for them. The girls? fucking hard workers who have their shit together for the most part. The reason we have our shit together? Things weren't done for us the way they were for the boys, we weren't constantly bailed out of every bad decision. My mother has two other sisters and one brother and b/c my grandma made the girls do all the chores etc., they made us girls do the same and that's why we all have jobs and houses and most of the boys ended up in rehab or unemployed with pregnant girlfriends. Dude whatever, jeez am I bitter much? You hit a nerve lady, you hit a nerve.

The Ambiguous Blob said...

Uck. Grandparents aren't always cool. Or nice. They're people too, but they are supposed to know better than the rest of us because they're old. And with age, comes wisdom. Only- not all the time. Dangit, I'm sorry.

Mrs. Booms said...

I'm with formerly fun on this one.

All the boys in my family are fucked up except for one and his own dad isn't coming to his college grad, but they've bailed his brother out, I don't know how many times.

Of course, my sister and I work our asses off and are the only one's who have anything to show for it. We're mostly ignored because we don't ever NEED anything.

And my grandparents came to the hospital to see my dying son all of once.

Crotchedy people are kind of sucky. I'm going to be an awesome crotchedy person.

I'll be drunk and singing songs and telling all the grandkids their my favorite. Mostly because they all will be.

Love Bites said...

I was the favorite grandchild. I admit it. I mean, they did the same for all of us, but I was the one who made them glow, the one they bragged about. My brother and my cousin always hated it, and I understand it. Of course, it puts alot of pressure on the favorite, too, to be perfect, to conform to their expectations, to fulfill their fantasies about you.

My parents favor my brother's daughter, even though she is probably more likely to get knocked up by age 18 than to go to college the way things are going.

I get it, they spent 6 months raising her for him, and they're attached, and they feel sorry for her because her bio-mom is a completely retarded whore, and the stepmom is a bitch, and her dad is entirely emotionally disengaged for reasons I can't really explain.

But still...all of the kids know she's the favorite, and it sucks for all of them...equally. She knows it, and resents it, and my kids know it, and resent it.

I don't know why people do this. It's utterly idiotic behavior and it never leads to anything good.

Dean said...

WOW! There's a lot of pain here.

I'm not so sure that you wish the old man any harm. Maybe love and hate can coexist?

Powerful stuff. Thanks for sharing.

Bluestreak said...

Dammit, I can't seem to leave a comment, my computer keeps fucking up.

anyway, I can totally relate to this.

My grandpa didn't give two shits about me and my sisters, he was way too busy with my cousins. I saw my mom sob her way through her child-rearing years because of the rejection of her father.

Now old gramps is in a home. His favorite daughter and her kids never visit. My mom pays all his bills and listens to his endless bullshit.

when I go home, I go visit and feel sorry for the stupid, stupid man that lives with regret and knows exactly why nobody cares about him.

Gypsy said...

As appalled as I am at his behavior, I have to admit to a certain fascination with your grandfather and grandmother. I assume the stories about them would be riveting. Complex, cruel maybe, but compelling.

P.S. My word verification is: gramp.

A Free Man said...

I've got a shit grandparent as well. Well did have. She's not terribly missed.

If it makes you feel any better, I want a girl more than anything with this next kid.

Erin said...

I had a student in China whose grandfather refused to speak to the granddaughters or acknowledge them in any way until he was at death's door. Very traditional man. But his son took the girls' side (his daughters) and refused to speak to the grandpa anymore. And that was rural China.

I can't believe the rest of your family didn't notice this until now. Sorry, I know it's your family. But that's just oblivious and wrong.

Rygantron said...

My great-grandmother reached 100 before she finally descended to the fourth cocentric circle of hell, the one where she gives presents to blond-haired, blue eyed boys (like my brother), and tried to feed dark-haired, non-aryan boys (like me) to both the literal and proverbial wolves.

Fuck that - hanging around the planet past the age of 80 doesn't magically turn you into a saint, despite what the AARP might tell you.

Love Ry

Kat said...

I had weird grandparents, only my grandmother on my dad's side seemed to care much about us. Mom's parents didn't know what the hell to do with us, and my grandfather died when I was pretty young so I don't remember him much. But grandma doted on us.

I totally get how you feel, though, because I really didn't care a few months ago when my father was dying. I briefly felt bad that I didn't care, but then I got over it. He was an evil asshole and it's hard to be sad about someone like that, father or not.

Great post.

carrie said...

your writing is very good.

i find all of this especially interesting because i work in a nursing home. i take care of those castaways who are for the most part alienated from their loved ones... for whatever reasons.

i have compassion for even the most difficult ones, but that doesn't mean i don't sometimes mutter things to myself under my breath about how self-centered some of them can be. then i wonder how self-centered am i and will it only get worse?

Thanatos said...

Great, great post. No obvious sexists in my immediate family, but I'm sure my female cousins have felt some barbs now and then.

Rassles said...

Brian: I'll miss Poppy, I will. That doesn't mean I won't be glad that the emotional drama will be over.

Franklin: And then you got sloshed, and went up to the mother-in-law and said, "You're a raging bitch."

Daisy: Oh, I wouldn't wish Poppy on anyone. My other Grandpa, though, is a real ladykiller...

Mia: Well, I'm glad it helped.

Mount: At least I know why I'm unimportant to them, which is comforting. It's just a bullshit reason.

FF: The cousins etc. are generally successful in their own right. More successful than I am, by normal societal standards. But at least they've always been cool to us.

Ambiblob: I'm currently working on trying not let it bother me. Easier said than done.

Boomer: You're going to be the awesomest crotchedy person, and everyone you meet is going to say wonderful things to you like, "I want to be just like you when I'm wrinkly and gross."

LB: I can't even contemplate how my mom feels about the situation, but she can't stand Poppy. And it's more difficult for my dad, because I mean, his father is alienating him along with his daughters. It's got to suck watching that happen to your own children.

Dean: No, I don't wish him harm. Not suffering or anything. But the ridiculous amount of shit my dad has had to deal with? Yeah. It would be easier for him to be dead.

Blues: My cousins are completely obsessed with him, and treat him like a god or something. But he treated them like prodigies, so I understand why. So at least he's got some love.

Gypsy: First of all, hilarious. Second of all, yeah. I've got stories about them up the ass.

Freeman: And your daughter, when she gets here, will be incredible.

Erin: The cousins did, but it took awhile, and all of them are older, so when we were little kids, they were moody adolescents, and then when we got interesting, they were in college, and when we were in college, they were getting married. But the aunts and uncles? They're all pretty traditional themselves.

RL: True that. It's not a feat of nature anymore, either, since all of those oldies are running rampant on their scooters.

Kat: Thanks, friend. I can't imagine having an evil asshole for a dad. Because let's face it, my dad is like my best friend.

Carrie: I doubt he'll be ignored. Outside of my sisters and I, he's worshiped. But the fact that you work at a nursing home is phenomenal. I have patience for my grandparents, and that's about it.

Thanny: You're lucky in that respect. But it's only natural that if it's there, the girls would notice it first. After all, they're the ones being targeted. Yeah, I said it. Feminism rears it's ugly head. I should shut up.