Friday, October 07, 2005

One of those fears

After the pipe bomb incident, I've been asked a few times if I was scared. Maybe it was being naive or my assumption that it was an empty threat, but I wasn't scared. Death, being alone, or the dark, everyone has his or her fears. None of those are my fears. There are few modes of death like drowning that scare me, but death itself isn’t a fear. One of my fears is related to my great grandfather on my Mom’s side. I can’t remember the first I met him or met his wife. I only remember meeting her once when my Uncle flew us down to Florida. She passed away soon after that. I think. It’s all lost in the fuzzy memory of my childhood. Hmm. Memory is actually part of the fear. But back to the back-story. According to my Mom my great grandfather was a mean man who only got worse once his wife died. It then only got worse when he was stricken with Alzheimer’s. My only real memories of him are when he had Alzheimer’s, and he was a mean son of bitch. My brothers and sisters came to dread summer because that’s when he’d end up visiting for a few weeks. Nobody would sit next to him at the dinner table because he’d grab the fork and try to stab your hand. It was like reverse musical chairs. If you came within arm’s reach he’d hit you. If you were a kid he wanted nothing to do with you. To keep him busy my Mom let him trim the trees on the property. I still wonder why they thought giving him anything sharp was a good idea. He was actually good at the pruning if he’d known when to stop. My Mom was stuck with branchless trees. There were also times he’d chase my little sisters with the pruned branches. So what does my fear have to do with my great grandfather?

My fear is that I’ll end up like him. I can be a grumpy bastard sometimes. In fact my Mom would often threaten me when I would become grumpy as a kid. “Watch it, or you’ll end up like great grandfather,” she’d say. I became a bit more cheery once my teen years came to an end, though I still have my occasional grumpy moments. Now my memory is going to the dogs. This makes me actually frightened that I’m actually turning into him. Every time I forget someone’s name, walk into a room and can’t remember why, or forget a story idea I just came up with, I’m struck with a sense of fear that I’m inching closer to embodying my great grandfather. I know I’m not near the bastard he is, but you never know. It isn’t even a fear of forgetting, but of becoming the crazy person nobody wants to associate with. I don’t want to become the joke.

3 comments:

bobby said...

This is not something I'd typically say, but... "Oh my God!" You had a real life boogey man in your family. No threats with the Itens -- it was real! When I look at him in the photo I believe every word of your description. Chasing little girls with tree branches? Right out of children's literature.

But I have to ask you. Now that he's gone and you're older and wiser, is there any love at all for this man?

(Don't worry about becoming him, by the way. I've seen you grumpy, but it's a gentle grumpy -- not a stabbing children with forks grumpy.)

Bradford said...

He was a real life boogey man. In the movies, he would be the creepy old man living in the decrepit house all the neighborhood kids are scared of. I feel a little sorry for him. But since he was a mean bastard even before he went senile I would say the sympathy is minimal.

faith said...

I used to worry that I would be just like my mom who is very cold and detached...but considering I am very emotional and accepting, the only way I could be like her is if I got a lobotomy or something...I don't think you have anything to worry about being like your great granddad. Though I don't know you in the real world, the way to interact on line with people you do know, shows a caring kind person.

I forget everything too...but that is mostly temperament more than dementia.