Memories and Loss

My grandmother, Carol Ann Duefrene, passed away on December 2, 2017, at 12:40 in the morning.

I am not okay. I’m pretty good at pretending to be okay, but I can’t with this. I am going through the motions that you are supposed to do for living life and moving on. I have continued to go on, but parts of me feel stuck when I got the phone call and just. Crumpled.

I’m not going to vent out everything I’m going through. It’s a lot, and I am still processing. Instead, I’m going to share her favorite memory of the two of us.

***

When I was roughly nine or ten months old, my parents wanted to go to Disneyland. Laller offered to come because she loved spending time with me and one of her favorite things to do was people watch at Disneyland.  Shortly after entering the park, my mom and dad took off for something, and Laller took me through the exit of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. The exit of that attraction is a rather clean, nice, large, air-conditioned room and had plenty of time for a freshly crawling baby to wear themselves out. She put me on the floor to let me explore my heart’s content while she rested on a bench.

It’s always been unclear who came in first. After about 15 minutes, either Minnie Mouse or Daisy Duck had popped their head in briefly, before going into the room. They were followed by Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Pluto and either Chip or Dale. And all of these large headed, anthropomorphic characters surrounded the ten-month me very slowly, and very carefully, and started to play with me. We played peekaboo, I’d crawl from one to another and boop their noses. This went on for about twenty minutes before one of them realized they had to be somewhere. So they left. And I tried to follow. This was also the moment that Laller fully appreciated I was going to be a pain in the ass as I grew up.

***

She told me this story more often than she did any other one. There was also when she walked me into a pool to wake me up (she claimed I knew what I was doing – I claim nothing makes sense and I was going through the motions of getting ready). When we went to Hearst Castle and San Diego. Seeing shows around Los Angeles.

Laller helped raise me. She helped shape the person I am. She wasn’t alone. I can’t forget Val, my adoptive Russian grandmother whom I lost in 2011. But nothing could have prepared me for this loss. Knowing she was sick. Knowing she was dying. Knowing that Laller hasn’t been Laller for well over a year now.

I wasn’t ready for that call. I wasn’t ready for this.

My last moments with her was an hour before she was gone. I was injured, due to the clumsiest injury one can manage at work, and standing was painful. She was in her full burrito mode. I hobbled to her to give her a hug, and a kiss. I told her I love her.

I am going to miss her every day.

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A Do/Do Not list of going to Confession

My grandmother, Laller, passed away on December 2. It’s been hard. There’s a bigger entry in the works of me processing, and my favorite story with her in her prime. But this is a thing I am dealing with. Poorly.

One of her requests was a full Mass service. I grew up Catholic. I’ve since converted to something else for a myriad of reasons. But I remember how to be Catholic. Vaguely. What I do remember is that to fully participate in Mass, I.E. ingest the holy sacraments, you need to have done a few things:

  • Gone through First Communion.
  • Gone to Mass every week. Preferably on Sundays.

Now. I did go through First Communion. I had my first Communion, Sunday school, and went through Confirmation. But I stopped going to Church about 11 years ago. You can atone for this sin by going to Confession. Something else I had not done in about 11 years.

Here’s a handy guide so you don’t wind up with 10 Rosaries assigned to you for penance.

  • Do not start a confessional/penance session with a joke.
  • Do not joke about stabbing hobos.
  • Do not criticize the Church.
  • Do not call the Pope an awesome chill guy.
  • Do cry when you get overwhelmed about why you are giving your confession.
  • Do apologize for being a dick because you cope with grief by inappropriate humor and being an asshole.
  • Do not tell a priest you are an asshole.
  • Do not try to explain the plot of the Black Jewels series to a priest.
  • Just don’t bring up the Black Jewels series at all.
  • Do not bite yourself. THE PRIEST CAN SEE YOU AND TELL YOU TO STOP.
  • Do not question whether or not the fact that the priest can see you takes away from the whole anonymity that you thought was there for confessions.
  • Do not bring up the priest that was recently arrested for murdering a woman who confessed something he couldn’t forgive.
  • Do not NICELY ask the priest not to murder you.
  • Do not ask why there are no female priests. You will not get an answer. The priest will just sigh and ask if you’re done confessing.
  • Do actually confess your sins.
  • Do not say you are confessing your sins in the eyes of the Church.
I realize this entire list falls into the inappropriate humor coping mechanism I have going for me. But it’s helping. And right now I need every ounce of help to get through this.
Until next time.
M

Life, Graduation, and the Grandmother Chronicles

I’ve been writing, like my last blog said I would as part of my resolution. But it’s all been private or not shared, and I realized that that’s not the point of having one of these blogs. So, I give you an update, as well as the start of something new.

I am in my last semester at Pasadena City College. At this point, well into it. And it’s going okay. I am doing my work and studying and being a student. I’m being the President of the Queer Alliance to the very best of my ability. And it’s good. I’m happy, if not sometimes a little stressed out. I spend the majority of my time at school or on campus. Like 5 days a week, sometimes not leaving till 9 or 9:30 at night. But it’ll be worth it. In the end, I’m walking away with three different Associate Degrees, plus an Associate Transfer degree. I’m doing some part time work, trying to get students to tutor, and babysitting one of my best friend’s kid on Thursday nights.

The biggest change, beyond any doubt, is that my grandmother Laller now lives with my family and I. About a month ago, she was unceremoniously kicked out of the home she lived in. So she lives with us now. And it’s definitely different. Alzheimer’s is a hell of a disease, and some days its a bit more difficult than others.However, there are days, and moments in every day that are just adorable. The moments that I sit back, and I smile. For those moments. I want to chronicle them here. I know that in the future, I’m going to want to go back and look at those moments more than I will the frustrating ones.

So to start the Grandmother Chronicles.

Yesterday I took Laller to go and get her hair cut, and to the Disney store to pick up a stuffed toy for her to cuddle. While at the salon, she started poking the posters going “Beep boop” because she heard me doing that earlier. And at the Disney store, she had a hard time picking just one toy. Or just getting a toy. It was very much like *me* in the Disney store when I am trying to get one thing.

Both were smile worthy. Especially when at the end, she started waving at all the kids and humming to the music in the store.