Saturday, April 15, 2023


 Dead Grandma

The other day I had this gnawing urge to talk to my dead grandma—the one I called “Grandma” when speaking to her and “Grandma Parks” when I was talking to someone else about her. Not my Grandma Izzy, who’s also dead, the one I really liked. My dad’s mom, I’m talking about. I won't go so far as to say that I disliked her. She was fine. I mean she was ok. Always there at the holidays. Made a mean lemon pie. Taught us all how to play Skip-Bo. She was just boring as a conversationalist. Droning on and on about her colored pencil pictures. And always with the same boring stories. I reminded her of her dad, the neighborhood doctor (who wasn’t actually a doctor) who walked around with a black bag full of carnival salves and ipecacs and assorted camphors, I guess as a side hustle, when he was in his twenties. He was small like you, too, she always reminded me. Thanks grandma. Yeah I’m short. Thank you for noticing. I guess he was a real piece of work, her dad.  Left old Grandma with her aunt and uncle.  And then sent for her a few years later once he’d remarried and had half a dozen more kids. You could tell she loved the shit out of him. That she forgave him his abandonment the minute she saw him again. Then that damn story about the ants. Just a directionless, pointless story about this one time she and I were sprawled on her lawn looking at the grass. I was like 4 or something. A bunch of little black ants, as they will, were wandering through the blades of grass carrying little chunks of Wonder bread and it caught my attention for some reason. I guess I was like— Look at that!  What the fuck is that Grandma!  and it made her damn day. Led to an impromptu little synopsis on ants which (she claimed) fascinated the living hell out of me. Nothing happened next. That was the whole damn story, just me exclaiming look at those damn things, the ants I mean. Maybe it wasn’t that boring in the moment or the first time she told it. But she didn’t have to keep telling me about it over and over every damn time I saw her. Anyway I suppose there could have been other things she had noticed about me or could have told me about myself  that I never thought to ask because I was too busy being annoyed by her. I could have asked her, you know, before she died.  I could have been nicer about it all. I could have been nicer. I could have been more curious. I could have noticed her more. I don’t think enough people really paid enough attention to her. I was a prime offender. Maybe that’s why she kept telling the same stories, because no one else really listened to her. A kid had to sit there and listen, out of politeness. It seemed like exploitation at the time. I don’t know. I’ll be fifty soon.  I’m running out of primary sources.  Who the hell am I. Where did I come from? Why am I like this?  I kind of sort of wish she were still around. Even if it meant hearing about those damn ants one more time. It’s a weird kind of missing someone. More of a vague melancholic regret. The days that are no more and all that jazz. I'm old enough now to know that every day is another chance to seize upon some experiential triviality and choose to notice it deeply, because those stupid things are, in the end, the bulk of all we have, one stupid little thing after another. Little bricks of banality with which to erect a wall of meaning. I wish I had more bricks. That’s the kind of missing I mean when I think about my dead Grandma Parks. I hope she’s doing ok wherever she is, if she is. She deserved a whole hell of a lot better than what this damn place ever gave her. Sometimes I feel like she’s looking down at me. I imagine her up there sketching wildflowers in the grass. Maybe she sees me maybe she doesn’t. From there we all look like ants.


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