Grandmother – part 2
My grandmother is from a family who lived just a 15-minute walk from my grandfather’s house. My grandfather was a year senior in school, but they didn’t get married until 21 and 20. She had left school at 12, so marrying at 20 was pretty late in the rural community of the era. Did she really have no choice? There was no way no man wanted to marry her, but I can imagine her intelligence might not have matched with most men in the neighborhood. My grandfather was tall, handsome, and intelligent and could have faired better if the circumstances were different. He must have been the most suitable among a small pool of eligible men.
Only my grandmother saw me in the house where others treated me as if I didn’t exist. My gut health had been damaged as I went through antibiotics at 3 and 4 (ear infection and pneumonia), which caused constipation, lack of appetite, brain fog, fatigue, insomnia, and skin troubles. But no one knew it was a chronic illness, so my mother decided I was lazy, hated school, and sought her attention. For her, all the symptoms were too minor to be treated seriously. Those children starving in Africa, born without limbs, battling cancer deserved care, but not me. I couldn’t express my anger to my mother because she wouldn’t listen, so I did so to my grandmother, who received it unconditionally.
When I was eight years old, the school nurse asked me why my weight had dropped since the previous semester while it should have been increasing. I told her I didn’t know, except I had been dancing with my sister, who believed she was too fat to be attractive (she was 12). The school nurse wrote on the health report to eat well and not worry about being slim. The health report was supposed to be read by the parents, but my father couldn’t care less, and my mother said or did nothing about my weight loss. Imbalance in the stomach acid had often made me feel bloated and need to burp during meals. I’d beat my chest to let the air pass up. My grandmother was concerned and asked my mother to take me to a doctor. My mother ignored her advice or my chest-beating. My grandmother asked one of my aunts to drive me to the doctor. She told the doctor, who then asked me if the food got stuck in the throat. I didn’t know what to say, so I told him it just made me feel better. Nothing was wrong with me, and I was embarrassed my grandmother had made a fuss. I just thought I was weak, as my mother said.
I felt ashamed of myself for treating my grandmother so unpleasantly, so eventually, I distanced myself from her. So my anger was directed toward myself. I often felt I was punished and deserved it.