Friday, January 16, 2009

Happy / Sad

When I was a young child, I spent much of my time with my paternal grandmother. She was my most formative influence, the person I trusted and needed most. My mother was very young when she had me. She was an ambivalent parent. She struggled against my grandmother's huge personality. But my grandmother was not ambivalent about me. We lived in different units of the same triplex. We'd make dinner together, watch cartoons (and soaps), hang out. She'd had four boys. I was a daughter for her, finally. We were comfort for each other.

She was - and is - particularly fond of daisies, mums (her fave flower) and pussy willows. In fact, sometimes she still sends me cards with pussy willow buds in the envelope. Just to remind me of our shared experience. (Memory is so bittersweet, no? In some ways, my childhood was a sacrifice; my magnetic attachment to my grandmother its most substantive casualty.)

Every time I see a pussy willow bush, or stems at the florist, I must touch their gorgeous, furry little buds. I feel happy. Then sad. I don't know how to reconcile this conflict. I wish someone could tell me how.


  1. Now having had a similar relationsip with my paternal grandmother but for different reason I think the happiness is the love and pelasure enjoyed as a child and then as you grow up the bond is broken so much eaiser than with a parent so you sort of feel sad about that - the fact you loved them and enjoy them but your break is easier and they are not so important because of it - if that makes sense. You miss what they gave and it was easier for them to give than a parent. I'm talking past tense because my grandmother is dead now. My top tip is go visit your grandmother and have a conversation about the mix emotions and the fact she'll be gone soon so you need to have that converstaion.

  2. I agree with Kate. I'm sure it'll be tough to have that conversation, but she might have some things she wants to say or ask, too.

    Thanks for sharing this, K. Sending hugs Toronto way.

  3. I'm not sure if you can, or should. It's okay to feel pain, it won't kill you.

    Memories can be tough, but wouldn't you rather remember than forget?

  4. It's called melancholy. It's one of life's more delicate emotions.

  5. also: you are blessed to have family who you love and who love you back. Send her some flowers.

    In fact, let's all do something nice today for the people closes to us! Let's call it Pre-Valentine's day!

  6. I agree with Enc and D. Debil.
    I feel melancholy very often when I think of my father. I feel happy for all the memories I have of him and our relationship and I feel sad because I can't see him.

    Take care sweetie, all the best


  7. "
    Blogger enc said...

    I'm not sure if you can, or should. It's okay to feel pain, it won't kill you.

    Memories can be tough, but wouldn't you rather remember than forget?"

    I'm reading a lovely book of short stories by Neil Gaiman called "Smoke and Mirrors". Gaiman buried a story in the introduction where a couple's idyllic marriage was shadowed by a written page that chronicled a parallel marriage that they could of had but (thankfully) did not. When the husband dies, the wife makes the fateful choice to destroy the page so that her husband would live again, but the price was to have had lived the nightmare marriage the page revealed.

    Moral: It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.


  8. melancholy... ah this creeps up on me and sometimes I don't know if I should cry or?? I agree have a deep conversation with your Grandmother... I did the same, I went and saw her, I had this strong pull to do so... that January ... well... the dreaded happened..

    I like the bare tree with the ornaments as well.

  9. Kate: Very thoughtful comment. Thank you. I tried to resolve this a few years ago with my grandmother. It didn't work very well for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that she is unable to talk about sadness. But I did try.

    Sal: Thank you for your hugs. I was feeling a bit morose when I wrote this, needless to say.

    E: Oh, that's so true. I spend a lot of time running from unhappy feelings instead of exploring them. Thank you for sharing this perspective.

    Monkey: I can always count on you to lighten the moment :-)

    D. It is such a delicate emotion. So not down with it! And I'm going to take your advice about the flowers. Oh, and that Gaiman story is so affecting. Very disturbing lesson.

    Seeker: I sense that you can really understand this challenging mindset. Thank you for your comment and empathy.

    GJ: I'm sorry your granny is gone. I really hope your conversation with her worked better than the one I tried to have with my grandmother a few years ago.

  10. How wonderful that you have such a special relationship with your grandmother. I was very close with my grandmother as well. We definitely had a very special bond. We had such fun together. She died a few years back after a painful decline in health. I wish she could have gone to my wedding. But I know she was there in spirit. I get sad thinking that she's not around to share and visit with anymore. But I know I'm lucky to feel that sad. There would be little to feel sad about if we hadn't had such a wonderful relationship to miss now.

  11. Thank you for sharing those memories. I really like the pictures.

  12. Thank you for telling us about this. I have a difficult relationship with pussy willows as well, strangely enough, for similar reasons. On the other side of the planet. Life is weird.

  13. Sonja: Thank you for your lovely comment. It's nice to know that other can relate...

    Nadine: Thanks to you for reading. That willow tree is beautiful, and just down the block!

    Andrea: Time was, the coincidence would have surprised me. But now I know how close we all are. Thanks for commenting... One day I will write a short story about my gran...

  14. I know this is an old thread, but I bet if you delve deeper you would find some sort of emotion that was attached to your mother. The happiness you feel when you think about it was the happy times you spent with you grandmother. You have not lost those memories, but the loss is the time you spent as a child wanting your mothers attention or love but felt unable to obtain it. Thats why you were closer to your grandmother. So the sadness is not for your Grandmother but the element in your life at the time you felt was missing. Perhaps... But maybe I have got it wrong :-) BR Joe.