THIS is me…(3)

By: Sarah Ann Walker

Most days I wondered why she liked me.

I loved everything about my grandma- I really did. And I especially loved her name. Strangely, my grandma's first name was Thomas. There is some long, funny family story about her father losing a bet the night she was born, and so he had to honor the bet by naming his first child Thomas, regardless if it was a boy or girl. Apparently, my great-grandfather was a man of his word, so when my beautiful grandma was born, she became Thomas Montgomery, to the humor of everyone, grandma Tommy included.

And when my mother had me, my grandfather forced my mother to stick with the family tradition of naming their girls 'boy’ names. Not that it was much of a tradition seeing as my mother is Elizabeth, but whatever, maybe it just skipped a generation.

My grandfather made my mother name me after my grandma, Thomas Montgomery-Hampton, and so I was named Thomas Suzanne Beaumont, which I love because of my beautiful grandma Tommy.

I always wanted to be beautiful like my grandma, and I ALWAYS wanted to be called Tommy like my grandma was, but I was never beautiful like her, and I was NEVER called Tommy. God, my mother hated my name even though it was her mother's name.

Of course, my mother wouldn't hear of me being called Tommy. Actually, I don't recall my mother ever calling me by my full name- stopping only at Suzanne Beaumont, even when she was angry at me.

When other kids had their full three, sometimes four names yelled, or spoken harshly to them by an angry parent, I always felt strange when I heard it- almost sad or something. Just once I wanted my mother to yell 'Thomas Suzanne Beaumont get back here', or 'shut your mouth Thomas Suzanne Beaumont' or whatever it was she yelled at me at the time, but she never did. Never, ever, did I get to hear my full three names yelled at me.

I realize now as an adult it's such a stupid thing to remember or to have cared about. But at the time, I was sad that I couldn't be Thomas or Tommy like my grandma was.

God, I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. I wanted to be beautiful, strong, Tommy, who everybody loved. I wanted to be exactly like my grandma, but I never was. I was always just Suzanne.

I remember when my beautiful, charming, elegant grandma Tommy died, I actually felt heartbroken. I know everyone is sad and maybe even a little desperate when someone they love dies. Maybe a young girl feels extra sad when her grandma dies, but with me, it hurt so bad I couldn't breathe right for months.

I remember crying incessantly. I remember I couldn't stop crying, no matter how many dirty looks I received from my mother. My mother told me I was embarrassing her with all the drama and hysterics. My mother even threatened to have a doctor give me medication to calm me down at the funeral if I didn't stop acting so 'inappropriately'. But I just couldn't stop.

I remember how much I hated my mother during the initial days after my grandma suddenly died. She was just so cold about HER OWN MOTHER! It was shocking to me that she never cried or even looked sad at all about grandma Tommy dying.

I couldn't stop crying from one moment to the next, but my mother didn't even cry once. At least not that I saw. Actually, I'm sure of it because I don't think my mother can cry.

Oh! I remember a conversation between my mother and grandfather- that's right! My grandfather asked my mother 'if she was even bothered by her mother's death?' I remember my mother laughed and asked, 'why would I be?' I remember my grandfather's pale face and I remember my mother's vicious smile. And that's when I knew my mother could care less that her very own mother was dead.

My beautiful, charming, elegant grandma Tommy was dead, and my mother laughed. Wow! How could I forget that?

Anyway, I was thirteen when she died, and everything seemed to change for me then.

I remember my grandfather wanting me to sit beside him in the front row at the funeral, but my mother refused to let me. And when I tried to protest I received 'the look' from her, and that was it. I didn't say another word.

So I sat beside my mother while hundreds of people talked to her, and sometimes even to my father about the wonderful, charming, stunning Tommy Montgomery-Hampton. My mother smiled and nodded, and even indulged in light laughter about some wonderful thing my grandma did over the years, but NEVER did she cry.

I did though.

Actually once the tears began, I couldn't stop them, no matter what I did, or thought of. I pictured good things and even yummy things, but nothing worked. No matter how hard I tried to stop, I just sat there and cried and cried.