THIS is me…(4)

By: Sarah Ann Walker

I know I looked ugly, and I KNOW my mother was totally embarrassed by me, but I couldn't stop. I even remember my father leaning over tenderly with a tissue and telling me to 'knock it off' in my ear while smiling at me gently in front of the large crowd of people who attended the funeral. But I just couldn’t stop sobbing.

Finally, midway through the ceremony my mother gently placed her hand on my knee to comfort me I thought, until slowly I felt her fingernails dig into my skin. Harder and harder she dug her nails into my leg until I could barely breathe from the pain and from the need to cry out.

God, it was such a strange thing to do- hurt someone badly so they cry harder while whispering in their ear, 'stop fucking crying, you fat fucking baby.'

Holy shit! I forgot that! My mother swore at me, and squeezed harder and harder into my skin until I gasped out loud, and then she glared at me kind of sideways and removed her hand from my leg. Wow. That was messed up.

Anyway, after the ceremony my parents had a huge party, or I guess a ‘wake’ at my grandparent's house. I remember being so sad in my grandma's house because I didn't know what to do with myself or my tears without her there to comfort me. So I just wandered around until I stopped in my grandma's little solarium at the back of the main floor.

We always loved that room. Well, she loved it first, but then as I got older I loved the solarium too.

My grandma bought and discretely hid a TV for us in a chest near the glass doors, and she and I would sneak inside and watch movies together when my grandfather was out, or otherwise occupied in his study.

It was our little secret, and I cherished it. I loved the fear I felt knowing we could be caught with something as 'common' as a television, but I always knew my grandma would protect me even if my grandfather found out or caught us. But we were never caught and I don't think he ever found out.

God, I loved my grandma Tommy in our solarium during our special secret time together, hidden in the room under big comfy blankets watching funny movies alone.

After a while, I remember the guests began leaving, and I made my way back to the main dining room where food had been laid out. With shaking hands, I picked up a little sandwich, just as I spotted my mother in the corner talking to some of her friends. When we made eye contact she subtly shook her head no at me, and I dropped the sandwich at once.

Seconds later, my grandfather was beside me putting the same sandwich on a small plate for me with his back turned to my mother.

Oh god, I was so scared. My grandfather didn't know about my mother saying no to me I don't think. Or maybe he did know and that's why he turned his back to her. Actually, I'm not sure if he knew, but I DO know I absolutely panicked at the thought of disobeying my mother and having her punish me for it later. I knew my grandfather wouldn't be with me at our house when we returned, when my mother could be really, really angry at me. And so I shook my head at my grandfather, refused the little sandwich, and just froze.

Eventually, the room started to spin a little for me, and I remember my grandfather pulling me to his side as I started to breathe all funny.

Within seconds my concerned mother was at my side pulling me from his grasp, while telling everyone within hearing distance that I hadn't been feeling well earlier, and that the day had taken its toll on me.

Leading me from the dining room, my mother continued to coddle me until we entered a guest room upstairs. And as soon as we were alone I tried to apologize for the sandwich, but my mother shook her head no again, effectively shutting me up instantly. And then she slapped me across the face. Wham! I was absolutely stunned.

She hit me so hard, I actually fell sideways and backward onto the floor, landing hard on my butt. I couldn't believe how much that slap hurt. And as I grabbed my cheek in my hand, completely shocked, my mother said calmly, 'that's for embarrassing me at the funeral. Expect much, much more punishment when we get home for that little near-fainting episode.'

And that was it. After she sneered her awful threat she left the room, and I burst into tears again, alone, at my beautiful, charming, elegant grandma Tommy's wake, in her huge, awesome home, which I always loved.

I remember I cried for my grandma that day, but I realize now I cried for me too, because somehow I knew my young life was over when my grandma Tommy left me.