My Grandmother... my mother’s mother... had the inner appearance of a dirty cracked cardboard box; broken along one side and full of nasty angry comments about everyone that she had ever met; and like all broken cardboard boxes she could barely contain her contents. In that small self contained room, where she was the self proclaimed queen of the damned; I suddenly came to see her for who she was... hate drove her, hate made her and hate filled her, turning her already stone black heart to alabaster.
I recall that she always pointed with her cracked and twig like fingers to cackle and sneer with a inhuman savage delight at the television when bombings, or floods, or earthquakes, or some other natural disaster occurred somewhere in the world and thousands of people were maimed or killed. It was worse when those about her in the warden assisted accommodation passed away. She’d have this wide, savage, tiger-like look of triumph in her dark ice like eyes, and she would glow with triumph at the thought of outliving yet another of the “stiffs” as she would call them.
Her increasingly aggressive behaviour made our visits every Easter and Christmas all the more painful as every decade passed.
There were times, when both my sister and I had become parents in our own right; and our children were considering leaving home, that we all thought that she must have some dark evil power; and had given her soul to the devil to live for-ever in return for making our own lives as equally miserable as her own.
‘You’re late!’ she’d spit with a viscous triumph glowing from her eyes as we had just opened the door to her own private palace; which was always surprising, being as we were always on time...
Then, one Easter day we were late; and that was the day she died...
She was found by her carer who came in twice a day to give her the medication she needed. I recall that my grandmother loathed her with a-particular venom that I find hard to describe.
I should have felt something... but it was genuinely hard to, And later that week, as I saw her tiny coffin come from behind us and then get placed upon the plinth. I felt nothing except a strange otherworldly fear, that perhaps, she was not dead... perhaps she was simply sleeping... that somehow she had survived the heart attack that killed her; and now she was about to burst from her coffin, wearing her thin nightdress, pointing wildly with her spindle like witches fingers screaming:
“That your all gonna get yours!”
But it didn’t happen... all I could hear, besides Queen playing in the background... a band that my grandmother despised, but my now elderly mother loved, as the machine pulling the curtain around to finally hide the wooden box from our sight. Only one person cried at my grandmother’s funeral... it was not I, nor was it my sister, nor was it my father, nor did my mother whose life this woman had made a living nightmare... neither the cousins, nephew’s aunt’s or uncles, all skin cracked dust covered mummy’s from an age beyond recall shed one single tear... Only the carer, (a small, but large busted women of about forty, with a rounded shiny face, and tight pulled back red hair... Phyllis I believe her name to be... or was it Glady’s... To be honest... I am not that sure now...) who had tended to her needs, put up with her rages, fed her and tucked her into her bed at night, came on the day of the funeral to sit at the back of the hall and wept silently into her handkerchief. The guilt we felt was immense.