Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Good news, everyone!

Borrowing the catch- phrase of Professor Farnsworth from Futurama, I have some good news. I went to hospital to have a check up for my BIH at the neurology department. They looked at history of intercranial pressure taken at each lumbar puncture/ spinal tap I have had and saw that it has slowly been decreasing over the last 2 and a half years. I also have not been getting many headaches lately and they say the headaches I have been getting are tension headaches. Based on my history and how I have been doing the last six months, they believe the BIH has resolved itself and that I am well enough to go off my medication. This is VERY good news because the medication I was on for BIH had some horrible side effects and I was pretty sure it was interacting with my antidepressants. The only way to see if the BIH is gone is to take me off the meds. SO no more painful pins and needles in my hands and feet, no more fatigue, no more nausea and no more having to  pee 75 times a day!. Yipeee!!! Let's just hold thumbs and hope that it is gone.

And my second bit of good news is that I have a job interview on Friday for a PA/ Junior Journalist position at a Christian magazine. I didn't deliberately apply for a job at a Christian magazine, it just came up. I had to send in samples of my writing. One of the samples was "10 Unusual degrees" from this blog. Obviously I changed it and spruced it up a little.I had to do the Myers- Briggs Personality test and answer all these questions about my commitment to Christianity etc before even getting invited to the interview. I have studied the Myer- Briggs closely during the course of my degree so I know how it works and could easily have cheated on it. But since I want to work for a company that I actually fit into, I didn't. I was a surprised and a little offended with the questions about Christianity since I see that as very personal but answered them as honestly as I could ( I didn't go as far as to tell them I was an atheist for several years). Because of the answers I gave, I really didn't expect a call back.

As I haven't gotten the job yet and I will have to answer some tough questions in the interview (I don't have a SA drivers license/ what exactly have I being doing the last four years) I not exactly celebrating. But I got an interview so at least that is some achievement for now. I will be nervous on Friday, it's the first job interview I have had since living in America and I am facing a lot of competition. I need to convince them that I can both study and work full time. I am also dreading any personal questions they may ask. I have had to borrow money from my sister to buy clothes as I just don't have anything that is suitable. I feel a lot of pressure to succeed for my family.

Please pray for me if that is your inclination, otherwise you can just wish me luck!!.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Remember Me

My grandmother, aged 21
Do not discuss me if I'm not present
My mind is foggy but my heart is clear
Do not criticize my imperfections
If only i could choose to remember even the simiplest of tasks
Do not resent my frequent funny questions
I'm scared and confused
Your ansers slips from my desperate grasp
Do not stop loving me because my actions are inappropriate
Do not resent frequent pacing or attempt to "go home"
This is not my home. Nothing here is familiar or reassuring
If only I can go home. I would surely find my memory there
Do not remind me of my recent hurts
I do not recall that my mate has passed away
Do not speak to me as a child
I have a lifetime of experiences despite my childlike ways
Remind me of your name and the place you hold in my life
I would love to recall, for  I feel your love and kindness
Show me the Word, nature, music, art
For I have forgotten the amazing joys it holds
Allow me to use the tools that remain to hammer out my mark
and wrench my heart
Forgive me my imperfect past
If I only remembered, I would surely apologize
You need not fill our time with many words
Your presence helps fill my void
The blame does not live with you or me
Love me for who I am and the person I used to be.

Written by an Alzheimer's sufferer

Sunday, June 19, 2011

From the dark side: The end...a stir fry

Today is Father's day, I always struggle with Father's day mostly because of the past I have with my Dad. I thought maybe I would just sleep through the whole day until I was literally guilted out of my bed, forced to come downstairs and put on a smile. Since about 14:30 this afternoon my sister's voice, blaring as she bosses us around has had the same effect on me as nails on a chalkboard.

The reason I have been writing this all this about my grandmother is because this week we finally put her in a home. Granted she really should already been in a home years ago but my Mom just couldn't let go. Up until just recently my Mom was the centre of my grandmother's universe and she couldn't stand to be away from her. My mother believed that once my grandmother stopped responding to her love that then it would be time to let go. I think that my Mom carries a lot of guilt because it was that idea that led to disaster with my grandmother breaking her hip and her final decline into complete insanity. This led to a year of hell for our family that caused a breakdown of our relationships, isolation, depression and a whole lot of anger for all of us. If my grandmother was herself she would be horrified at all that happened.

Now for what I see as a true tragedy: My grandmother was raised to believe that her most important place was within the family. She may never have had a career, but she worked twice as hard for her family. She came from a wealthy farming family but received nothing except a small settlement in her parents will...all because she was a girl and her husband was meant to take care of her.

My grandfather died penniless in a home (which was paid for by his brother) when I was 19. Standing over him in the final hours of his life, I felt nothing more than pity for him. I was more heartbroken by my Mom begging him to stay so she could spend more time with him. That was so awful. My beloved great- uncle died two months before I left for England. He had suffered a massive stroke the year before his death that left him a total invalid, unable to speak. Our family had raced across the country when that happened. I sat with him in the hospital throughout the night squeezing his hand and stroking his face trying to get my brain accept that my uncle, with his twinkling eyes, larger than life personality and booming voice was the same frail man that lay expressionless in that bed. It was a great day for him when he died. He loved God more than anything else on this earth and longed for the day when he could finally meet his maker.

My great- uncle had made a great success of the farm he inherited and it has now been passed onto his sons, one of which is my godfather. My grandmother's younger brother drank his farm and his money away. He died of cancer when I was 8. So my grandmother is the last one left. The last one from the glory days.

So in other words my poor grandmother is broke and even though she worked so hard. We could not afford to put her in a nice home or one that was even close buy. The home she is in now is very basic but comfortable for the price. But it is two hours away and my mother will only be able to see her once a month. My Mom has lived with my grandmother for most of her life except for her university years and the first 3 years she was married to my Dad.

It has been a mad dash to get my Grandmother ready. You will not believe how much stuff you need to buy to get someone ready for going into an old- age home. The night before she left I was in the kitchen chopping vegetables for a stir fry and I was listening to my Mother talk to my Grandmother about the home, how many friends she would make, how the nurses were going to spoil her and how good the food was. My Mom washed her hair, cut her nails and was rubbing cream on her hands. My grandmother kept thanking her. The stir fry was not quiet working out the way I wanted ( I added to many damn noodles!) and then it hit me. My grandmother has been alive the whole time I have been alive, she was there for everything and I mean everything. Years and years of everything was going to end with a stir fry?. This mostly likely was going to be her last meal with us. This was probably the last supper I would make for her.

We are took my Grandmother to that home for her die. Her road on this earth will end there. And while she may change homes or come for visits, you know what I mean. A page has been turned and we are now facing the final chapter. The landscape of our family will never be the same. And with the stir fry thought came the cold realisation. I will never hear my Grandmother call my name again, she will never make me another cup of tea, her stories have now gone.

I'm still angry as hell but I don't hate her anymore and I don't want to be angry either. But I guess the reason why I am afraid to let go of that anger is because behind all that rage there is a heart wrenching sadness and a tunnel of endless regret. I have racked my brain trying identify those times when we may have had a second chance for a good relationship. Maybe everyday was a second chance, maybe we were never meant to be. The irony is that if my grandmother had not had Alzheimer's we might have been very good friends.

On that last night, after everyone had gone to bed I went into her room to fetch Milo, who for some reason had taken to curling on my Grandmother's bed after she went to sleep. And there she lay tiny and fragile, a ghost of her former self. For some reason I thought about one Christmas when my Mom, sister and I were struggling to drag our potted Christmas tree into the house on a mat. My grandmother pushed us aside, took hold of the mat and dragged the whole thing in by herself quickly and with such apparent ease that all three of us were embarrassed by being shown up by a seventy- something woman. There are a lot of things I want to change about the past but none of that matters now. Saying "I love you" just felt to weird but I whispered to her how sorry I was. She didn't hear me of course. They say that the bitterest tears shed over a grave are for words left unsaid. I took Milo and left.

The next day she was gone, I stood in her room. Her bed was stripped and all her belongings were gone. Photographs of her now seem ancient, moments frozen in time. I am now part of her legacy. I hope and pray that I will learn from her mistakes and live my life well.

Friday, June 17, 2011

From the dark side: The damage that haterd can do...Part 7


In September last year, just a few days after my birthday, my Grandmother took a tumble down a step (that was only about 2 inches high) and broke her hip. We had been forced to moved to a new house as the farm my parents had lived on for the past seven years was sold. The move sent my grandmother in a continuous downward spiral and we thought things couldn't get any worse...until that fall. After that life became unbearable for all of us.

She had to have surgery and was in hospital for a month. Our entire family and extended family took turns in sitting with her in hospital to comfort her and remind her every few minutes where she was, what had happened and prevent her from trying to get up or pulling her catheter out. I sat staring at her not being
able to offer any words of support other than the stereotypical cheesy stuff when it was absolutely necessary. My Mom was unhappy with the care she was receiving at the hospital and brought her home early. That day was one of the worst days of my life. It was just me and Georgina and the amount of care my grandmother needed was overwhelming.

That fall shot any sanity my grandmother had left. When she came home from the hospital we had to put her in nappies/ diapers because she was incontinent. Her vocabulary were severely compromised but that didn't stop her talking in a continuous monotonous voice from the moment she woke up until she went to bed. The only talking she ever did was in the form of some very weird prayers or calling my mother. That was on a good day on a bad day she would shout and scream continuously. The talking alone drove us up the wall. Even though her leg healed very well, Alzheimer's had started to claim her motor skills and she was confined to a wheelchair, only being able to walk very short distances with a walker. She screamed every time we moved the wheelchair and taking her in the car was impossible because it was "To fast" and she was afraid we were going to crash.

My Grandmother never slept. She had no concept of time or of night or day. My Mom had to eventually start sleeping with her because she was so terrified of being alone and would try to get out of bed. She had several panic attacks a day but my Mom was hesitant about putting her on medication because she didn't want her to get addicted. Though, I understand where my poor Mom was coming from the whole thing was absolutely ridiculous. Eventually one night after I found her in bed choking and hyperventilating which resulted in us having to call an ambulance, my Mom relented and my Grandmother was put on a sleeping pill and sedatives, providing a little relief (and some more sleep) for all of us.

Whether it was because of the drugs or the disease she began having hallucinations. She had entered her own world never to return to the real one. If you told her something that she was seeing wasn't there it was like she either wouldn't hear you or comprehend you and just went on talking about the strange imaginary place she was in. The doctor put her on medicine they use treat people with schizophrenia, which I found odd but it didn't make any difference any way.

She hasn't been as aggressive as most Alzheimer's patients but she has tried to take a few socks and slaps at my Mom. The worst was when I found her trying to strangle Milo- he and jumped in her lap and frightened her, when I walked in I was so horrified I grabbed him away from her and slapped her hand hard. She then told my Dad I had tried to kill her.

Her final obsession was with my Dad. His name was always in her mind and in the last few months she has called for him continuously throughout the day. At first she was convinced he was her husband (something my Dad did not take very kindly). Then to her, everyone she saw was "my Dad" whether or not they were even male or female. The saddest part was when she finally forgot who my Mom was and stopped calling her by her name. I think because she always heard me call my Mother, "Mom", she started to do that too. My Mom would not accept this until the day when my Grandmother was crying and saying over and over again, "Where is my mother?, I want my mother!", my Mom gave in, knelt down next to her and said, "I am your Mother". My Grandmother then cried over and over again, "Oh thank you!, thank you!".

They say that with Alzheimer's patients, the happiest memories go last and this was true for my Grandmother. Her very last memories to go were those of her childhood and when she was at boarding school. My Mom tried to talk to her as much as she could about those days, hoping she would be spared a while long with those happy treasures in her hands. But ultimately, my Grandmother would wake up every morning having lost more of what little memory she had left. And so we watched as every last thread of her life slipped away and she became a stranger to us and us to her.

It is very difficult to convey in words how horrendous the last year has been. Our family, my parents in particular, have faced many trails in their lives but very few of them can compare to this. What we have watched happen is truly frightening. Torture is the best way to describe the emotional impact it has had on us and the toil it has taken on our lives.  Our entire lives revolved around my Grandmother and her care. We had very little freedom. We could never go out as a family and if one of us was out it could only be for a few hours because someone was on duty at home and needed to be relieved. It was worse for my mother- for the past year she has been house bound.

It has had a different impact on me. Of course I was to busy with my damn revenge to notice that someone who loved me my whole life and nurtured me (in her tedious, bossy way), was slipping away. But there were moments when the pain of what was happening would lash at me. Watching Little B running to her Great- Grandmother arms wide open only to get pushed away because she thought Little B was attacking her. And then seeing my Mom cry because she missed her mother so much- she was there but she wasn't at the same time. My Dad used to say that the person we had in our house was no longer my Grandmother and that she had left us some time ago. As harsh as that sounds he was right.

And where did all my hatred get me?. Well it got me nowhere. It was useless. It just made me more miserable and more of a liability to my Mom instead of an asset when she desperately needed help. I felt bitter because I had gotten nowhere. I'm still angry at my Grandmother but how is that benefiting me?. It's funny how human beings see holding on to anger as doing them some sort of justice when they have been scorned. In the end no one cares and it's like going around in a circle.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

From the dark side: The damage that hatred can do....Part 6

I'm not sure when my Grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Honestly it feels to me like she has always had it. And living with someone who is afflicted with this condition is heartbreaking as well as being pure hell.

Because of the recession in 2009 I could no longer afford to live and study on my own. I moved out of Cape Town and back in with my parents....and my grandmother. My Mom still had her own business then and would work long hours. My Dad would work from home in an outside office. The care of my grandmother was left up to a lady that my Mom originally hired to do cleaning. She was very good with my grandmother and would cook for her and take care of her during the day while taking care of the house. Soon though my grandmother started to become more and more of a full time job.

We had a cat back then who my grandmother became obsessed with ( a commonality in Alzheimer's patients). If the cat wasn't within her line of vision she would panic, she tried to follow this cat wherever she went (and if you own a cat you know that this is impossible). If the cat did anything like "meow" or role around or ANYTHING she took as a sign that the cat had to be hungry and would get furious at all of us, accusing us of starving the cat. At least once an hour there was a blow up with her about the cat. The worst was when the cat went off somewhere as cats do, my grandmother would leave the house and go and try to find her. My parents lived on an apple farm and this happened several times a day and either Georgina, myself or my Dad would have to go out and frantically look for her. Then she would start accusing any stranger she came across of stealing the cat. And then came the day when she claimed that our cat....was not our cat.

At night her obsession switched to the locking of doors. After she went to bed she never slept as she was up and down all night checking that all the doors were locked. Of course she would always forget that she had already checked and keep on checking all night. Soon she started waking us up at night "Wondering where everybody was". She needed help with dressing, bathing and eventually going to the toilet. She was terrified of being alone and always afraid of some impending doom. She would work herself up into into a crazy state that would always end in her crying hysterically. Her balance was effected and we constantly had to watch her to make sure she didn't harm herself.

And then of course, there was her mental state. It probably sounds petty when I say that her repeating the same thing over and over again or the 50 million questions she would breakfast, was irritating. But just imagine having to hear the same line over and over and over again knowing that telling them to shut the hell up would have no effect what so ever AND you actually couldn't even get angry because it would agitate their mental state even more?. Well... I'm sure that's how my Mom must have felt. I didn't let it stop me from screaming my lungs out besides, it me feel better. Even if she would be beside herself once I had calmed down.

Throughout all of this I was horrible to her. I hated her. I kept thinking, "After being a constant intrusion in our lives you had to go ahead and become a burden too". I didn't care that she was afraid and confused and suffering. I just cared about venting all the anger I had held inside of me for years.If I wasn't ignoring her, I was yelling at her. I called her a "A demented old cow" and " A senile old woman". I resented her always having to tag along when my Mom and I were out together. My Mom may have been able to control how I spoke to her when I was little but not now. This lead to many fights between my mother and I which of course made me even more angry.

But even through her dementia my Grandmother still managed to retain her good qualities. After any attack I had made on her the disease would have her promptly forget that anything had happened. But the unhappiness remained. She was unhappy and she didn't know why. Knowing my Grandmother she probably thought it was because of something she had done. She would seek me out and want to hug me and love me. This made me feel like the worst person ever born on God's green earth and I would try to get away. My grandmother may not have been able to rescue me from my abuse but she was always there to comfort me. When it was my turn to do the same I failed her I did nothing but make her suffering worse. The full implications of that haven't hit me yet but they will eventually. I will have to deal with what I did for the rest of my life.

STILL more to come....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

From the dark side: My confession of being a pure bitch...Part 5

The changes were so small at first that probably she even didn't notice it. Trying to recall a name, a date, what she had done the previous day. Then she would forget where she put something, leave the bath water on until it was overflowing. Burn food on the stove or in the oven because she forgot it was there.

Then these changes became slowly visible to those closest to her. My grandmother did a lot of the house work. When she put dishes away no one could ever find them because they were not in their usual place. She would clean up and put stuff away and we wouldn't see them for months. Then she couldn't remember which month we were in and then which year.

Right after the fire it was decided that my disabled aunt should go to a home. My grandmother had looked after her for over 40 years. Since my grandmother had reached her 70's she started to have difficulty managing. Once my aunt was in the home my grandmother visited almost every afternoon. Soon she deteriorated to the point where she was actually forgetting to go and see my aunt. And when she got to the home, she was never able to find my aunt's room and would get lost. Despite this she still continued to go whenever she could.

My grandmother had a weird habit of always falling asleep during movies or during the sermon in church. But soon all she had to do is sit down for five minutes and she would fall asleep right then. One time she was holding a cup of hot tea, fell asleep and let go of the mug, pouring the scalding liquid into her lap. A fracture to her arm and a bout of hepatitis only seemed to worsen her memory.

We all just thought that it was all part of age. But then she was forgetting people's names and eventually couldn't remember the names of those living with her without some prompting. She couldn't find her clothes or her medication. She would make us multiple cups of tea forgetting that she had already made the tea. Then she forgot how to tell the time.There were huge fights because my Mom did not want my grandmother to do housework anymore but my grandmother refused to give up anything that she saw as her duties. Having to constantly look for things made us all angry.

When I moved to England at the age of 20 my parents had moved to a house on an apple farm. Although my grandmother's memory was pretty shot she was still able to do basic things for herself and it was fine to leave her alone in the house for a few hours. The Christmas before I left I realised that something serious was wrong with my grandmother and that it was not simple forgetfulness. I had taken my grandmother shopping for presents for my Mom and Dad. That was the Christmas it snowed on the mountains (despite it being SUMMER in South Africa) so I settled her next to the heater in her room with a cup tea and went to my room to wrap presents. It must have been 5 or 6 times in the space of 30 minutes that she burst into my room panicking that she had not bought a present for my Mom. Not only did this mean that she had forgotten the entire day's events but she was forgetting what I was telling her 3 minutes after I had spoken to her.

When I said goodbye to my grandmother at the airport, she held me tight crying almost silently pleading me not to go. When I returned 3 and a half years later, she greeted me as though I was a stranger. She had been told over and over again who I was and she was very kind and polite. But her association of me, her memories of me, her love for a grand daughter had disappeared. While I was overseas I had gotten updates here and there of her slow decline. I spoke to her quite a few times, normally my Mom would be prompting her the background. But I missed most of it and I came home to find her drastically changed.

So, you would think that in these circumstances I would have nothing but compassion for her. Well you are wrong...this is where the pure evil of me came out. I returned to South Africa in 2007 a completely different person. A terrifying, horrific mental breakdown 6 months before and ripped everything that I was and everything that I had known and believed in to shreds. The past which I had worked so long to suppress was now demanding to be acknowledged and dealt with. My grandmother had now conveniently forgotten everything but I still remembered it all with a sharp sting as though it had happened yesterday. Now because she was so weak and had forgotten everything that happened, she was an innocent little lamb. I couldn't confront her, I wasn't allowed. Those fights that we had had in the past were no longer acceptable (not that they were acceptable in the first place) and were actually dangerous for her mental state. So I just had to button it and...forgive.

I'm sure some people can relate when I say it is impossible to forgive someone when you are fulled with such black rage that you could be motivated to kill a person if it came down to it. I had no way to express this rage, no chance for an absolution. I just had to "hold it" and as my mother LOVES to say,  "Forget about the past". I couldn't hold it... someone had to pay for what was done to me and because my grandmother had no way of fighting back now didn't mean I couldn't get some revenge.

Monday, June 13, 2011

From the dark side: My confession of hatred...Part 4

My grandmother had an older brother- my great uncle, whom I loved and adored. This is what is so ironic to me. Those personality traits I hated in my grandmother- her vanity, racism, sexism, prejudice and controlling personality were even worse in my great Uncle. Except for the vanity. I can't understand it or explain it but he should have been even more of a irritant, but I was able to look past all of his flaws and saw him as a surrogate grandfather. He was a hugely charismatic man with a larger than life personality and loud booming voice. He would sweep my sister and I up into tight hugs and kiss the tops of our heads over and over. He listened to us intently, prayed over us and told us long stories. The best way I can describe him is that he knew what all your bad traits were but he focused only on what was good. He was one of the first people (along with my Mom) who looked past my cold steel exterior and saw a treasure.

My great uncle was unbelievably strong while my grandmother was weak and I think it was because of how they were raised. He was raised to be a man and lead a legacy. She was raised to serve and produce children without asking any questions. If she had been given half the chance I think my grandmother had the potential to do great things. But she was a woman.

In 1996 one single event set off a chain reaction of which the tragic consequences we are dealing with today. My Mom had taken my sister and I to school, my Dad was away and my grandmother was alone in our house fixing breakfast for herself and my disabled aunt. Smoke suddenly began billowing from down the passage, she ran to the room she shared with my aunt to find that a heater had short-circuited and caught alight. The surrounding area and the edge of my aunt's bed had begun to burn. Despite being someone that was prone to severe panicking what she did was truly remarkable.

She lifted my Aunt off the bed, put her in her wheelchair and raced her out into the lounge. Then she went back into the room threw several blankets over the burning heater picked the whole blazing mess up and dumped it outside. She again ran back into the room and threw her bedding over everything else that was burning. My Mom came home to find my grandmother with black hair, hands burnt raw and sobbing uncontrollably because the house had almost burnt down and it was her "fault".

We were truly blessed that day, what could have been a horrible accident was saved because of God's mercy and my grandmother's bravery and quick thinking. We went on with our lives much more thankful but what we didn't know was that a silent switch and been flipped by an invisible hand. Over the next ten years we witnessed a transformation that would shock us all to the core.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

From the dark side: My confession of hatred...Part 3

From the outside my grandmother appeared to be a sweet innocent old lady. Everyone liked her. Despite the fact that she was a argumentative menace to everyone in my family they loved her very much. No one else feels this way towards her except for me. I can tell you if anyone in my family had to read what I am writing they would be shocked, angry and disgusted. I guess they should be. It feels like a law against nature to hate your own grandmother.

I have only presented the bad side of my grandmother....the truth is she actually had many wonderful qualities, most of which I have only realised recently. Unfortunately it would be that one of her good qualities that would sting me the most:

My grandmother made sure she always knew what was going on with everyone in the family. She would watch, listen...eavesdrop outside closed doors. Because she made sure that she knew about everything that went on she knew more about my abuse than anyone else. I still feel like it's a crime to say that I was emotionally and physically abused. She knew what my Dad did to me, she watched and listened. She would always be there in the background or around the corner. The worst is I knew she knew what was going on was terribly wrong. I could see it in her face.

Whether it was because she was once an abused woman herself, or because she believed that my Dad, was the head of the house and my father, she should not interfere or she was just in denial I don't know. But she was the one person who knew that I desperately needed help and she choose not to do anything. And here is where her "good quality" comes in. After being beaten she was always there holding me, washing the tears and sweat away from my face, tying up my hair and putting me to bed, all the while cursing my father. It was like being given time in a boxing ring and going into the corner for water and a pep talk before being sent back.

It was a blessing to have that comfort after all those horrific episodes. I really should be grateful because the majority of kids that are abused have no one. But it just made me hate her even more. She was just there to listen and see and then comfort. Never to help. And so for years it continued, each time it occurred it sliced away at my soul and took away more of the person I was meant to be.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

From the dark side: My confession of hatred....Part two

N.B: Some contents may offend sensitive readers

By just typing that last post, digging deep into the crevices of my families history fulled me with anger and bitter resentment. The stupidity of some of those people.....(my family members) astounds me. I am just showing you the ugly side of things. In truth my family in those days were like the American South before the civil war. There were great adventures, grand parties, unbelievable stories of wealth and luxury and eccentric personalities. Growing up my sister and I often felt like we had come late to some big party. We came when all the fun had been had and everyone was suffering from one big hangover.

For the first 18 months of my life it was just my Mom and I . My Dad was always away on business. Other than a few visits by a church friend and my half- brother and half- sister my Mom and I were each other's only companions. Within two months, I had a new baby sister, had moved countries and was living in a massive old house with....both my parents, my sister, my aunt, my two cousins (my aunt hadn't really figured that sex gets you pregnant), my disabled aunt and both my divorced grandparents. My half- brother and half- sister were soon dropped into the mix. One big happy family.

I don't think you'd be surprised if I told you I became a rather disturbed baby. Plus there seemed to be something "funny" about the house we lived in. My Mom thought there were evil spirits living there. I don't know, but throughout our time living there I would wake up most nights screaming in terror. My Mom, exasperated, sleep- deprived and under pressure from my Dad would resort to spankings to get me to stop. I can still remember this. I also suffered from a series of freak accidents- falling down the stars, burning myself, the worst was when I chopped my pinkie off my left hand and had to have it sewn back on.

Because I went from being a little angel to a child possessed by the devil by Mom left the care of my younger sister to my grandmother while she focused on me. Because of this I think my sister became my grandmother's favorite. I didn't have much to do with my grandmother back then but I remember resenting her presence. My Mom would tell me one thing and she would disagree and tell me to do another thing. Life to her was all about acting "proper". She fought openly with my Dad and spoke horribly about him behind his back and in front of me.

My grandmother has lived with my parents for most of the time I have been alive. With the exception of two years where my Dad- in an attempt to get some peace and quiet- rented her a flat half an hour away. Whenever we had to move there was never a question of whether or not she would come with us. It was always assumed. Because she was always there my sister and I always had to share a room. Once the two of us got older and it became obvious that our sharing a room was actually dangerous, we would convert any space in the house we could find, a dinning room etc into a room for my grandmother.

Having grown up in South Africa, during apartheid and especially in a farming community, it was only natural that my grandmother was extremely racist and prejudiced. She would talk about people of a different ethnic race- particularly blacks- as though they were the plague and would refer to them in the most derogatory terms. Before Nelson Mandela was realised from prison in 1990 she had me shit- scared of the man and convinced me he was going to kill all the whites. My grandmother was prejudiced in that if a person looked or dressed a certain way for example they had certain personality traits. Nothing could sway her on this even if the person she was speculating on turned out to be the exact opposite. To add to this sparkling impression I have created, my grandmother was also horribly sexist. Woman were there to get married and pop kids, working was a man's job. Women had to do certain "things" to ensure they got married. It horrified her that I did not want to get married or have children. Her advice on actual marriage was even more absurd...,"You must get pregnant three to six months after your wedding....".

Everything I have mentioned above created the groundwork for a very toxic relationship. The older I got the more my grandmother intruded into my life and tried to force her ideals on me. She constantly contradicted my mother and father and believing herself in charge would tell my sister and I what to do. By the time I reached my teens I couldn't stand her. She fulled me with so much rage that it was hard to remain respectful. I would constantly get into trouble and be punished for the way I treated her. Which obviously fuelled my resentment more. We couldn't get through a day without having two or three fights. Sometime the rage would get so bad it almost got to me slapping her. The worst I ever did was violently push the car seat when she was sitting in front of me. I would yell things at her like "You're an old crone!" or "Old hag!". Particularly in my late teens I treated her very very badly. If I had been a decent person back then I would have noticed that her age was weakening her, while I was getting stronger. All I cared about was that I was finally winning all those fights!.


Friday, June 10, 2011

From the dark side: My confession of hatred....Part 1

This post has been on my heart and nagging at my mind for quite a few months. And because of the events happening in my household in the coming week, I think that it is finally time to put this to rest. Since it is so long I am dividing it up into a few parts.

When I started this blog I made a promise to myself that no matter what I choose to write, it would be honest and NOT exaggerated as I admit I have the tendency to do. I admit that sometimes my wanting people to like me and sympathize with me stopped me from writing about certain things. That was until recently. I'm not sure why I am choosing to write about this situation...I might be able to tell you later upon reflection. Here is my warning: There is a very good side to me I won't go into that but I hope that some of you have been able to see that through my writing. BUT there is also a very terrible, evil side to me. I could make an excuse and say that I got this from my father, some of that is true. But mostly I picked this up all by myself.

Basically I can be the most cold- hearted, conniving, selfish bitch alive. It's true. I have hurt people beyond repair, plotted how to destroy and bring someone down. I make Sami Brady look sweet. Here's why, I will tell you the story of my grandmother.

My grandmother was born into a well-to-do farming family in South Africa in 1927. This family owned most of the farming land outside of Kimberly. She had a happy, carefree childhood as far as I know, she was very close with her brothers and adored her father- I have heard so much about how wonderful this man was from everyone who knew him. She went to boarding school as soon as she was old enough, as was necessary for children of farming families. My grandmother graduated high school and then went home to live with her parents where she basically waited around to be married- this was also the custom for young South African women in those days as most trades were closed to them.

My grandmother was a very beautiful young woman and she didn't have to wait long before many suitors came to call, most of them were from very wealthy families and had very lucrative careers. She could have had any man she wanted but for some reason she choose a frizzy- haired, google- eyed man who was well known for being a slacker living off his wealthy parents. His one achievement in life, is that he had learnt how to fly. He would have made an excellent pilot but being indisposed to working, choose to fool around in his one engine aeroplane instead. Legend has it he won my grandmother's heart when he landed his plane in her backyard and came to ask her to a country dance.

My great-grandparents were against the match from the start, they tried to reason, they begged and pleaded but nothing would sway my grandmother from accepting my grandfather's hand in marriage. As my great- grandparents loved my grandmother very much and did not want to loose her, they organised her a massive, lavish wedding. 500 guests were there. We still have her dress to this day, although only my sister can fit into it. She must have looked breathtaking. It must have been a sad day for my great-grandparents. Their years had provided them with wisdom to know that their precious only daughter was doomed.

Within three months my grandmother was pregnant with my aunt, who was born just before their first wedding anniversary. My mother (in my opinion the best thing that ever happened to both of them) was born two years later. Two year after that my grandmother was pregnant again and struggling with terrible morning sickness. She went to the doctor and he prescribed some pills. Trusting that doctor turned out to be the biggest mistake of her life. My aunt was born with a portion of her brain missing. She was blind, horribly retarded and had numerous deformities. I can't imagine the guilt my grandmother must have carried for the rest of her life. They were told to put my aunt into an institution and forget about her. But my grandparents refused, brought her home where she was loved and adored. They suffered a lot of stigmatising because of this.

My grandfather  who would avoid working by any means possible  demanded his inheritance from his mother and took the family to America where they lived off of the inheritance as well as buying cars, a big house, a speed boat and of course an aeroplane. Things were very good for a while. My Mom dropped out of university to spend a year travelling through Europe. Even though this had to be the dumbest decision she ever made, I'm glad that she had this time to herself and freedom. She needed it because of the life that awaited her (that's a whole other story).

Then my aunt got pregnant by a married man (Another "I love you, I'll leave my wife" story, which of course he didn't) and things began to go pair- shaped. The money ran out and they were destitute. My grandfather who had been emotionally and occasionally physically abusive toward my grandmother since the beginning of their marriage turned into a violent drunk. I have only just recently realised how this abuse affected my mother. She got beaten too. Most of the time it was while trying to defend my grandmother. If I had known this while  he was still alive I would have slapped the living daylights out of him. You will not believe how much I HATE this man.

My Mom went straight from Europe to America where she worked to help support the family. She became a surrogate mother to her niece, my cousin (little B's mother, who I love very, very much even though I want to kill her sometimes). My Mom eventually met and married my Dad (biggest mistake of her life in my opinion). Through the influence of my Mom and my grandmother's brother she was persuaded to return to South Africa with my disabled aunt and divorce my grandfather ( best thing my grandmother ever did...worst thing that happened to my grandfather).

I was born in 1983 in Texas. In 1985 just two months before my sister was born, my Mom returned to South Africa with my Dad. All my Mom wanted was for her family to be together again and to take car of them. She persuaded my Dad to leave a pretty good life in America and come to South Africa to start new. What they weren't banking on was all the extra the form of my half- brother and later my half- sister. She had dreams of us all eventually living in a massive house together, which was beyond nuts. It was the biggest relief for my grandmother when my mother returned to South Africa. My grandmother had worked hard for her family but she had always been taken care of. She had never lived on her own, never went to college, never had a job. All she knew was how to be a wife and a mother. When she divorced my grandfather she was at a loss. It was assumed by her and my mother that she would move in with the family and she thought she'd resume her role as wife and mother. There was just one problem. My Dad was not her husband and my sister, half- sister, half- brother and I were not her children. More over my mother was no longer a child.

That aspect was the root of many serious problems we had with my grandmother. Instead of realising that she was no longer the one in charge but the support system she grasped desperately to the only part she knew how to play, causing resentment, fighting and the eventual breakdown of relationships. I never saw her as a grandmother, or how I guessed a grandmother should be- just by observing my friend's grandmothers. I saw her as an unwelcome stranger who constantly battled my Mom for control of me. Adding to this the world in which my grandmother had grown up and flourished in had changed. And she did not know how to change with it. She had grown up in apartheid South Africa. During that period, life for white people was a dream. My grandmother became, bitter and resentful toward people and this isolated her even more.

More to come.....

Friday, June 3, 2011

Milo- First six months on the blue planet

I don't know when exactly Milo was born but we are estimating that it was the end of December/ beginning of January this year. His mother had back to back litters in a hole under the farm workshop. I heard that the kittens from the litter before Milo's had suffered cruel fate which I won't go into. It seems that fate literally dropped him into our laps- how strange that we happened to be driving on the same road at the exact same time Milo's mother was carrying him across. We had actually meant to be home earlier that day but were delayed for some reason I can't remember. I was told to take him because they shoot stray cats on the farm where I live because they rent some of their land to an organic chicken farm. How anyone could shoot a kitten is beyond me and I became furious and told the farm manager that he was to bring any stray cats to me and I would take them to the SPCA. I threatened to lay charges and go to our local newspaper. I think he found that more funny than threatening but obviously I must of made an impression because he started to feed Milo's mother and her remaining kittens. As far as I know they are still hanging out at his house but they are feral and he plans to take them to the SPCA once he has tamed them.

We have also seen a cat that we are sure is Milo's father- he has exactly the same colouring. This cat has to be one of the most enormous cats I have ever seen. Comparing Milo with his siblings, he was almost twice their size. So this is going to be one BIG kitty that we'll have on our hands.

It's only once I looked at the photo's I have been taking of him over these past months that I realise now how much he has grown. When he started out his ears looked to big for his face. He is now going through what I hope is just a phase of being really aggressive- attacking people's  feet with no warning. It feels like we are disciplining a two year old.

Anyway, despite his stubbornness and tough-boy persona, I have really grown to love this silly kitty and I hope and pray he will be with us for many years to come. I have posted a whole big bunch of pics of Milo from when I first found him to how he is today.
Hours after I found him- a very scruffy and flea-bitten kitty (not a very flattering picture of my nose!)

He liked to cuddle and go to sleep when in the car

Keeping the kitty in the mirror company

He is alseep here! He fell asleep while licking his butt!!

Loves his favorite toy- a teddy I've had since I was born.

This may look cute but he attacked me seconds after this was taken.


Chewing on my nose

Back from the hospital and very scrawny and skinny, he's made up for it though!

Cats seem to be very specific on how they drink water

Lazy ass

"By standing in front of the computer screen, I'm sure I'll helping Mom study!"

Why are cats so weird?

"I love making a mess and watching Mom clean up YEAH!"

I'm I the only that finds it a little freaky that he insists on watching me bath?

"I've discovered the roof"

"Now if only I can discover how to get down!"