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    She paid me a compliment

    My grandmother and I have never really gotten along. Ever since I was a kid. She was the person that made me recognize that while you may love someone you don’t have to like them as a person. Yes, I realize this is really sad to say, especially of family. But I mean it.

    She is stubborn. Never admits when she’s wrong (even when she is). She makes (and genuinely believes) her own interpretation of history. She can’t say more than 3 sentences about a person without also adding some gossip about them.

    I think I was maybe 8 or 9 when she “ran away from home” because of a fight we had. I stayed with my grandparents during the summer. Fighting between her and me was not unusual, but that was an especially bad one and she declared she couldn’t deal and left. I can’t remember what it was about, but I do remember that I felt awful about it, and so guilty… in concern for my grandFATHER’s feelings. After all, I just sent his wife away. But he was calm, and collected and never blamed me. Later, I came to know that this was not the first time she’d done that.

    She never voiced any congratulations, or pride in any accomplishment I reached. Nothing was ever enough. I wish I could say it was because she pushed me to be better or work harder. That usually comes with constructive criticism. Her comments contained none of that: just served to deflate ego.
    There’s a lot more, but those are stories I can only share in person.

    But I love her. Because she’s my grand-mother.

    As you can imagine, I don’t speak with her often. Her negativity is something I decided I didn’t need in my life. I call her on major holidays, or when it’s been just long enough that I can sustain another dose of her personality. She lives alone now, since my grandfather passed away. She’s lonely.

    Today, I write about her because something unexpected happened. I called her. And we talked. Our conversation contained much of our usual chatter, but her usual “self” was strangely subdued. It was reflective of her life. And very casually, maybe even unintentionally she paid me a compliment. She said that S and I were “capable and accomplished people, and we’ll take care of ourselves”. After we hung up, I started to cry. In my adult life, this is the only time she has ever said anything this nice to me. It’s probably the best Christmas gift.

    She’s not well. I don’t know what time she has left, but at least I know that should this be our very last talk, it’s probably the best conversation we can possibly have. And if it’s not? Well, it’s the one I’ll probably remember most.

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