The Most Difficult Woman Who Ever Lived is Dead

My grandmother died this weekend. She wasn’t the kind of grandmother you see in movies or read about in books. Verna Williams didn’t bake or hug or dote on us. Bluntly put: she was an extremely unhappy woman who hurt a lot of people. She wasn’t particularly nice to anyone, but I cannot recall a single time she was kind to my mother. Mourning a woman like that is complicated.

We wouldn’t be us if there wasn’t high drama surrounding her passing. Grown people are behaving like children. It’s gonna be a long week trying to get through the funeral.

I never had a very good relationship with my grandmother. In many ways, I wanted to put as much distance between myself and her as I could. Somewhere in me, I’ve always been afraid she is the worst version of me.

Several years ago, in an attempt gig me, Charlie created the Verna-meter. He would score particular behaviors, often exhibited by my grandmother, to prove I was acting like her, so I would stop. I found this to be extremely rude and totally uncalled for. Then my cousin’s husband got in on it. He started throwing out Verna-like behaviors he’d seen in his wife. We were so mad, but it was funny and kinda true, so we couldn’t stay that way.

The following behaviors score points on the Verna-meter:

  • Unstable stacking.
  • Insistence you know “the best way” to get to any location.
  • Out of control crafting.
  • Collecting obscene amounts of glassware and/or dishes.
  • Love of flea markets.
  • Buying strange pieces of fabric, signs, mannequins or broken furniture on the insistence you can “use them for something someday.”
  • Harboring an irrational love of El Chico.
  • Requiring to be re-seated in a restaurant multiple times because “something is blowing on me.”
  • Demanding the wait staff bring you several glasses of ice, that are never touched.
  • Asking to order off the menu. Or more accurately, asking to order something that hasn’t been on the menu in 20 years.

I really can’t defend any of the above behavior, although I’ve been guilty of all of it to some degree. Except one thing: El Chico is really good!

So here’s to you Verna! Thanks for having my mom. She was your best effort at unstable stacking. In spite of you, or maybe because of you, she has always been a kind person.



Filed under Things You're Not Supposed to Say

8 responses to “The Most Difficult Woman Who Ever Lived is Dead

  1. jennifer morgan

    Love your entertaining honesty! Family dynamics are complicated and isn’t it great to get to a point where you just find the humor in it all.

  2. Kellie NChanted

    We are the sum total of all of our parts including our families. You are better for having known her and the lessons learned. Love to you and your family and may the inherent difficulties that accompany these kind of things pass uneventfully.

  3. Cousin’s husband here:

    The people in the library where I work are wondering why I am laughing so hard.

    Thanks for this post. It will make explaining to everyone why this is such a hard thing for our family.

  4. Hey, flea markets are cool! A must for any serious Transformers collector! (Anyone who follows my blog will understand why I make such a statement)

  5. Ah the mean, miserable family member.. yes I have some of those.

    That list is hilarious though. And El Chico is not good. šŸ˜‰

  6. Complicated indeed. OY! Thanks for transparency. Your writing is fantastic.

  7. Sometime in the not-too-distant future I will be writing a post just like this one. Maybe I’ll just cut and paste yours–minus the Verna Behaviors.

    I’m glad to read this. Very literally the only good I can find in my mother’s mother is that she gave her life. Good for you, and thanks.

  8. I’m sorry for your loss. That sounds so cliche. Because it is. But seriously, losing someone, even someone challenging- sometimes ESPECIALLY someone challenging- is difficult. Brad’s grandmother was a cold woman. I met her once at his fathers funeral, she was, um, interesting.
    Also? I tend to have very Verna-like tendencies. She sounds like she was fun. šŸ™‚