Monday, May 16, 2011

Travel Journal--Prequel and Synopsis

To hear the news of Grandpa’s passing…

It is like a bad end to a good movie. You have a person, giving almost to a fault. Always lent a helping hand. Strong in spirit, mind, and body. One you thought still had a lot of living left to do, although he had been around for 92 years.

When I received the news, it was my fourth day on this recent assignment I got from this temp agency. I had hoped the one for the dr.’s office…the one with the indefinite time frame…would pan out, but it didn’t. And the other, because I wanted to leave my availability open, changed course about taking me on because of the switch in my availability. So it was back to square one.

I did give a deadline to myself that if I didn’t have steady employment by the end of summer, I would come back and rebuild. I had to let go of certain beliefs. I had to let go of certain thoughts that were holding me back.

Are you confused yet?

Well, the normal synopsis is this: I come from a very small town in Mississippi, population at the time well under 2,000 people. I was the first generation out of the immediate family to pursue college after graduating from high school. I am the first one with multiple degrees. The bar was set high, but not by my grandparents.

I set the bar high for myself. I didn’t want to be that whole statistic…the majority of girls born from teenage mothers ended up being teenage mothers themselves. I didn’t want my environment to deter me. I had to be the exact opposite of my mother; otherwise, I felt like I wasn’t going to make it.

So, I must admit, at first, I didn’t want to entertain the thought of coming back. Would it look like I failed? How would I be perceived--to have gone through all the extra trouble to evolve, to grow…only to be right back where I started?

But it is way more foolish to hold on to pride and risk being homeless, than to let pride go and take time to rebuild, knowing you have a place to go when you fall.

It took me a while to get to that place…where I can say “I’m starting over again, and that is okay.”

I took a gamble in my past relationship, and for a while, the formula was working. But along the way, variables changed, and everything became dysfunctional. Then I had to decide if I could stay in Jersey when one of the original factors was out of the picture. Then, once I decided that, could I really keep bringing in enough to make it work? In other words, did the ends justify the means?

For a while, they did. I made myself satisfied with the job I was on--kept getting told a further promotion was in the works for me. Yet there was a hunger for more. To be in a place where I could see my grandparents more, but not have to worry about things falling apart where I was working at while I was gone. To feel free enough in my spirit to write and continue to self-publish. To continue to do my spoken word. To bond and build new friendships.

Then my health deteriorated…the cash flow came to a standstill, and once again, I was facing the ultimate test of who truly had me and who didn’t.

Yes, this was a digression but a necessary one.

When I got word Grandpa had died, everything just stopped. I couldn’t help it. I got to thinking about the what if’s.

It hurt that no one covered for me enough for me to get an opportunity to see him in 2009 or sucked that the job I gave damn near 5 years drained so much life out of me. I do believe that my health would not have deteriorated as quickly had it not been for the constant 80 hours a week I was putting in. I kept thinking I could have done more…

I floated between sadness and rage the entire time. Most of the rage stemmed from the incident that happened between my Uncle Trent* and my mom, which caused my uncle to not be able to see Grandpa towards the end. To sum it all up, Uncle Trent was escorting other relatives to see Grandpa. For some reason (perhaps she believed my uncle was a demon, since she had begun practicing dark arts and didn’t want any demons in her trailer), she called the cops on my uncle. The cops told him it would be best if he not come down there.

So a few days after that happened, Grandpa took a turn for the worst, and my mom not only didn’t let my uncle Trent know but didn’t even let Grandma know. Instead, she called my sister Karmen (who never had a close bond with Grandma or Grandpa) to come over. Even Karmen flew right by the house--because you have to pass my grandparents’ house to get to the trailer and notified no one. Only way Grandma and my uncle knew was when they heard the screaming outside and the ambulance.

So there’s been a lot of hurt feelings, which is understandable.

And from one of my earlier blog entries, when I came down to MS back in March, there was conflict between my mom and myself then…I’m not going to rehash it here; you can just reference the blog. It all stemmed mainly from my wanting to spend time with Grandpa since he was starting to get sicker. That also fueled my rage.

I knew that although I had just gotten this assignment I would need to go back. Since this one would be a short one (only about two months), I figured there is a huge possibility they would probably find someone else to do it. But my not making my way to see about Grandma wasn’t an option.

I was hoping to get a cheap flight--cheap meaning under $400. But it has been so long since I have been on a plane that I may have an unrealistic expectation of what cheap in the airline industry is. The cheapest I was able to find was about $496 and that wasn’t going to cut it. So I knew I was in for another long drive--a curse and a blessing at the same time.

Curse because 1. I knew I would have to go alone. 2. The drive is very long. 3. I don’t want to keep putting a lot of miles on the car. 4. Trying to figure out how to get all the bills handled while I’m away for this length of time. 5. If I’m going to drive I have to make it worth the while….like just staying for a couple of days wasn’t going to cut it, particularly since I opted to come by myself. 6. Being away from the cats for such a long period of time.

But also a blessing. The drive would give me time to think and to get all my emotions in a row before having to face my mom. I would have to be strong for my grandma.

Although the efforts by my uncle were great ones, the overall sentiment was I should be there--because for an extremely long time, all we had were each other. It was just Grandma, Grandpa, and me. The family was spread out--visits were sometimes few and far between. Even the ones being close by, like Uncle Trent, wasn’t really around until close to the end. Before, he was in his own zone--dealing with his personal issues and that took up a lot of his time.

But everyone had his/her life to live, yet there was this underlying notion that if things turned the worst here, I would return. Or for some, I never should have left, which was why I guess some of the family didn’t come around as much…because I was around and taking care of things.

Yet when I moved, all that changed.

No one really wanted to pick up that torch; sad to say, but true. It is that balance between living your life and still being there for others; some of my family members couldn’t do both successfully; others didn’t even make the attempt. The only thing that mattered to me was Grandma and Grandpa understood, even if others did not.

*Names in this Travel Journal have been changed......

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