gen_is_gone: a sprig of lilac, with May 25th as a description (how do they rise up?)
I miss you, Grandpa.

I've been thinking about tragedy a lot lately, and much though I can superficially trace the reasons to fan-related things like Captain America, it doesn't take a psych degree to realize that a large part of this is because my grandmother is dying. It's slow, and it's hard, and she's in pain and confused. Various sundry members of the vast legion that is our extended family are behaving in the worst possible ways, some of it manifestations of grief, most of it simply an excuse to air the thirty year old grudges festering in the corners that no one wanted in the open when Grandma had the cognition to recognize them. When she dies--and it will be soon--there are likely to be any number of fights, many of them nasty, bitterly personal, and also probably legal.

My grandfather died within two weeks of my birthday, two years ago, and to my endless grief and frustration, the strongest memories I have of him are from when he was ill. He suffered dementia and the lifelong effects of a war wound from Normandy he never talked about, and was too proud to apply for full disability benefits for. He wore trilbies and limped when he walked. He gave me the funny papers and the reprints of classic Spiderman comics. He tried to teach me Spanish. It never really stuck. I wish that those moments were the ones that come most clearly to mind, rather than the days when he wouldn't get out of bed, the lapses and lack of recognition, his refusal of meds and then shaving and then bathing, until the man I knew from childhood as proud, and stern, and filled with boundless love for his thirty-odd grandchildren, the youngest of whom was me, became unrecognizable. And now, with August fast approaching I watch my grandmother wither away as well.

My grandparents are (were) complicated people. Theirs was what I'm beginning to realize was a difficult marriage, a covenant before two people and God to remain with each other through war and poverty and illness and even after death. My Grandma taught me how to crotchet, having spent the endless hours of her retirement making hats and scarves and doilies and baby blankets for everyone she knew. Over the last semester I made her a blanket of my own. By the standards she set for herself at her peak, it's a meager offering. I used a slip-stitch on the whole thing, by far simpler and probably less durable and certainly odder-looking than anything she would have once made. I still haven't hidden the tied-off extra thread at the end of the knots, which anyone who does needlework of any kind should know is the worst sign of Beginnerism. But she shows it to anyone who visits her, and I like to think she's proud of me.

Ironically on today of all days, the one thing I haven't managed to learn to crotchet are my Grandma's angels; they more than anything else remind me of a woman with nothing, no highschool diploma, no college degree, little experience of the world outside of her tiny corner of rural America, creating art with passion. Dozens, hundreds of angels made of starched white yarn, adorning the houses of children and grandchildren and nieces and nephews and cousins and friends and parishioners and strangers, all of them made by the same two hands. Today when she tried to crotchet she redid the same stitch five times, giving up and unraveling it when it came out crooked and childishly lumpy.

I say this today because while I do acknowledge the in-universe tragedy of the Glorious Revolution, and whole-hardheartedly admire Night Watch's genius, this (for me) is a day to remember real lives, and real sufferers of Dementia and Alzheimer's. Obviously, no one else has to feel this way, and I don't begrudge people their fun and their fanart, but Terry Pratchett and his enduring drive to write, to create as his body and even his brilliant mind inevitably betray him, is the real hero of the Discworld, and has my never-ending respect and gratitude.
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