Today’s weather in Cincinnati is just the kind I would order every day. It’s cloudy; it’s rainy; it’s spring. Something about the melancholy mixed with new life brings me happiness because my kind of happiness is tinged with sadness. At this point in my life I am familiar with sadness. Sadness is my sister; sadness is my lover. Sadness walks beside me; sadness walks in front of me; sadness walks behind me. I have learned to tolerate her company; I provide her room and board. I have even come to love her in an odd sort of way.
This is not what I wished for. It is not what I planned for. It is just what I’ve gotten. I think of my paternal grandmother who drank like a fish. Empty bottles – of gin mostly – accumulated under her bed. I remember the last years of her life; she spent them in her bed. Resting, she always told my sister and me, was what she did there, but mostly she drank. She didn’t know what else to do and my grandfather didn’t know what to do for her. They were sad–both of them–her for reasons I never knew; him for her.
My maternal grandmother was a stern German who spent the last years of her life suffering from a disease I cannot name. I know now that she was in terrible pain. I will say that again: she was in terrible pain. My mother paid for my grandmother’s pain. She was weak in spirit and disturbed. I suspect that her weakness came from something she could not name, something that happened early in her infancy. She was adopted and I wonder even now whether something happened that resulted in her removal from her birth parents’ home. I have seen my mother’s weakness, her tendency to fold into herself, to become childlike. She is afraid; I know that now.
My sister and I are all that we have, though we did not know that when we were children. What we knew was competition for the little love there was to go around. There was only a little nurture offered. I usually lost those battles. I suspect it had to do with my parents’ disappointment in their fat little girl. My sister was dark and slim, a beautiful child. I remember resenting her and secretly wishing I was like her. There was nothing I could do to change who I was.