So remember how my dad sent an overcoat to my husband? So, ok, it got here about a week ago. I would have written about it sooner if I hadn’t been so stressed out. I don’t even know if I’m still stressed. But I digress.
The coat arrived, safe and sound. It fit my husband. The pockets are still sewn together, so obviously my dad had never worn it.
I know this is an anti-climactic post, but I wanted to make sure to wrap up “The Overcoat”! Or should I bother? Why not? Here goes this post shooting into the blogosphere………..
So my grandmother passed peacefully in her sleep two days ago. Had my husband and I gone, I wouldn’t have been able to shower her with hugs and kisses.
She’s the woman standing in the picture, her arm around my waist. My grandfather was holding my hand. And finally, my aunt and uncles. This picture was taken circa 1971 – 1972.
Anyway, I don’t know how I feel about this: I felt so much relief at my family’s support of my mental health, and now, I don’t know, she’s gone. Just gone.
She’s the woman who raised me for at least 6 months when I was 2 years old, after my mom left for the US. And for another 6 months (at least) when I was 4. Six months after my mom left, my dad followed suit. I remember going through photo albums and becoming jealous of any picture that contained my parents without me.
But Mama was there. Mama fed, washed, and clothed me as if I were her own. This, in addition to having one son either in school or working, another in the U.S., a daughter in medical school, and a third son either finishing up high school, or starting college. Who knows? In some part of my 2-yo brain, maybe I considered her my own mother. Maybe I still do.
As I began writing this post I was overcome with emotion, which bubbledup from nowhere. I never cried like this for my real mother — I haven’t cried at all for her. But I’m discovering that my grandmother maybe, just maybe, is my mother, too.
Rest in Peace, Mama
NOTE: “Chic” is my Filipino nickname among my family.
When I was figuring out what to write about today, this paragraph from my previous post popped up.
“Relatives might ask where I am. Others might think I’m disrespectful for not being there. If I was there, I can only imagine the deluge of questions. Why’s your hair that color? Do you think you’re still a kid? What is [this] PHP? Or maybe no one would ask any questions at all.”
And that’s when I observed that I self-stigmatize. I was so worried about what other family members might think of me. Okay, my dad and uncle already told me that the Philippines is half the world away, Mama won’t recognize anyone (dad), and Mama will understand (uncle). Then, when I expressed my worry about relatives not seeing me and wondering about me (above paragraph), they basically blew that off — not the question, the other family members. I could have held my red head high and talked about why I don’t have kids.
If the funeral was here, of course I’d be there, and I’d be there ready to answer any question sent my way.
The word “loser” just popped into my head, but I don’t know who it’s meant for, because it certainly isn’t for me.
Pay attention to your speech patterns. Do you self-stigmatize?
I hadn’t heard news this morning about whether my grandma made it through the night. Thankfully. I’ll still mourn her — especially because I made the abruptchoice to stay here, and work on my mental health. I was trying to convince myself of this, and then realized how much time I’ve spent in both a hospital and a PHP in March & now April; I don’t want to stay in another one.
Plus, it’s not like we’re just flying somewhere within the US — this is a MASSIVELY LONG trip! On the way to PHP today, my husband asked me who I would be there to see, my grandma or my family? “Grandma,” I grumbled.
My husband suggested that we go later this year, when the trip wouldn’t be all hurry–hurry-hurry. He pointed out my physical problems (something going on with my left ear), and my sense of equilibrium. I already have appointments to see my Primary Care Physician, and Optometrist. Oh, right. There’s something going on with my vision, and if I try to tell anyone, they might seriously think I’m psychotic. These were part of planning for the trip, though I needed to see those doctors, anyway.
Relatives might ask where I am. Others might think I’m disrespectful for not being there. If I was there, I can only imagine the deluge of questions. Why’s your hair that color? Do you think you’re still a kid? What is [this] PHP? Or maybe no one would ask any questions at all.
So easy to make this about myself. I just don’t want them to think I’m being disrespectful.
If you missed the funeral of an elevated family member, would your relatives consider you disrespectful?