My maternal grandmother was sick. She had lupus the entire time I knew her. I really did not know her very well. She was sick. I knew my grandfather by the embrace he gave me every time he saw me. It hurt so much that I knew he loved me with wild abandon. He laughed as he hugged me. With wild abandon. He had a laugh that was contagious; he was tall and lovely. He had adopted my mother and given her whatever love he had because he knew that my grandmother was hard and even cruel to my mother.

I know from my own experience with my grandmother that she could be harsh, that she could be angry, that she could punish. My mother says that my grandmother paddled her with a brush. I can imagine that because my grandmother was harsh. I know that she was harsh because she was in pain; she had lupus. She was in pain. I loved her and resented my mother. In my childhood she went crazy; she divorced my father and went crazy.

She had not been able to live out her teenage years. She had not been able to go crazy, to do drugs, to have sex, to go wild the way so many of us do when we’re teenagers. Instead, she went crazy when my sister and I were children. We endured that and we resented our mother because we were alone with a babysitter who neglected us. She filled our house with drug parties, with men who hurt us, who had sex with us.

That said, I loved that sitter and she loved me too. We sometimes stayed at her mother’s house; there, she protected me from her angry parents. She shared her sisters with me. I slept in bunk beds for the very first time at her house. They were wonderful little caves and I hid in the corner of the bottom bunk. I loved that. And I loved that babysitter and her sisters.

To this day I wonder what ever happened to that sitter. It would be nice to know whether she ever got control over those drugs. It would be nice to know that she survived, that she lived out her life drug-free and happy. It would be nice to know that she had a lover.

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