It was the second, quieter, phone call that ripped her heart out. Sure the first call, with her youngest son screaming hysterically about how she didn’t understand anything and was so inconsiderate, made her cry and made her heart ache. But the second call, where her eldest told her, in a condescending tone he’d learned from a therapist, “they’re going to raise the baby using her family as a model, since that family is so much more functional than what we had” left her stunned, sobbing, and secluded in her pain.
In less than two days, the budding joy of being a grandmother had been turned into a frozen dagger formed by years of old hurts that each of her sons took delight in twisting. Every word, every slight, every misstep that she thought had been forgiven was dragged forward and jammed through the phone lines. All the hours of warm conversation, the loving moments of the past years, and the hope for a gentle and loving transition into old age were burned to ashes.
She tried to talk to her friends.
She would get as far as, “My son wants me to be part of my grandchild’s life, but wants me to understand he’s totally rejecting all my values,” and then burst into tears, again. Her friends tried to understand, but what could they say? The sucking void of her grief was too dangerous for them to linger and listen. It might take them too.
There was an online group. Videos. Message boards. Knowing she wasn’t the only one to experience “adult child estrangement” should have made it hurt less. It didn’t.
In the early mornings when sleep wouldn’t stay, she began crocheting. Little blankets, tiny hats and booties piled up everywhere. She began driving downtown a couple of times a month to give them away. There weren’t a lot of babies in the homeless camps, so she switched to socks, mittens, and hats for adults. She felt loved and appreciated, but the ragged valley in her heart and soul never healed.
“Can I take your picture?”
“Sure, I don’t mind. Do you want a pair of socks?”
The next day a short piece about the Eastside Granny ran in the local news. What didn’t make the story was the fact that some people had begun to show their appreciation for the homespun gifts with gifts of their own. Usually in pill form.
It took authorities a couple of weeks to find her sons and get her body squared away. Her sons grumbled and complained about the body storage fees added onto the cost of the simple cremation and funeral, but they paid the bill anyway. After all, they were good Christians leading fully functional lives, and nothing like their mother.
Karen Southall Watts teaches college Humanities in the Pacific Northwest. She’s been writing fiction under a super-secret pen name for years, in between work as an academic and business speaker, writer, and coach, she is a ~Professional Encourager~ and Author of The Solo Workday: Manage your time and gain new clients while working alone
“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson