Saturday, May 11, 2013

Tiffany and a series of very bad, no good days... pt. 1

Don't worry... this will be a super heavy picture laden post and I will attempt to balance out the ugly with the beautiful. PROMISE.

My Grandmother died. I went to bed early for a change and woke up to my Father shaking me... shaking me. Holding my shoulder and shaking me awake. "Grannie died, she's gone... your Grannie just had a heart attack. She's gone.... she's gone."

For a few years we'd watched her deteriorate mentally. Going from friendly to frigid to frightening in 60 seconds or less. She didn't know who Logan was. She thought Lillie was still an infant. She would seethe with anger over a vacuum cleaner she knew my Father had stolen from her. People were watching her, she'd say. My Dad and I consistently made plans to find a way to have her taken care of, for someone to watch her and monitor her. I couldn't do it by myself. I couldn't bring myself to call her towards the end, because it was no longer her on the other end of the line. I'd make excuses and honest to God forget about her, because it wasn't her. And now? Now she's gone. My therapist asked me what my Grannie would say to me if she saw the person she'd become towards the end. And to be honest? She'd say something along the lines of, "Look at that crazy bitch!!! GIRL, THERE AIN'T NOBODY WATCHING YOU THROUGH YOUR BACK DOOR!!!" And she would forgive me. I know she would. I know because she left me over 70 pairs of handcrafted shoes from the 70's and 80's still in their boxes with their matching clutches. All in my (our) size. I know because she had a box full of pictures. Pictures of me, the kids, postcards I'd sent her from all over the world. She would forgive me, and that gives me great comfort.

Grannie the Fashionista

Grannie and her #1 girl... that would be me. Obviously.

I worried myself sick over the location of this ring. I worried it had been stolen, worried she'd been buried with it, again worried it had been stolen. This ring really belongs to Lillie as she was named after my Grandmother's twin and they share a birth month (January.) There's a garnet on either side of my Dad's birthstone representing his Mother and Aunt.

Grannie and her #2 Girl. She loved the fool out of that baby, even though she only got to see her a few times. Each time it was as if she was meeting her for the first time again and again...
 
Even though Grannie died the week of the Diva Dash, I owed it to her to keep living. So I ran. I ran, I pushed myself over/through/under/around obstacles. I hefted logs over my shoulders and ran through mouse mazes. I ran uphill and downhill through the mud and then finished off by running through an ice cold creek that left my lady parts more than a little frosty. Sometimes it's a bitch being vertically challenged. I even spent the night before at a friends house... WITHOUT CHILDREN. I broke all my own neurotic rules and pushed myself. Believe me when I say it took a good two days to recover mentally and physically. I still can't believe I made that muddy hill my bitch. I OWNED THAT SHIT.
 
It was cold as fuck and it literally stopped raining MINUTES before we arrived. Mother Nature is a cruel cruel woman.

Friends since '05 y'all! Only took me 7 years to convince her to run with my lazy, non-athletic ass. I don't run for time, I run for fun and to push my body and remind myself that I'm stronger than I think. I prepare for races the same way I prepared for tests in High School, I just don't.
 
Who needs a spa for a mud bath? Needless to say these shoes went directly into the garbage. I'd only owned them since before Lo was born... you know, it was time... Nobody should use the same running shoes for over 6 years unless they're Forrest Gump.
 
And then there was the fire. Just a typical day at work... vendors were coming in and out of the office, we were having a small meeting post-lunch... and then the phone rang. The voice on the other line yelled out that our building was on fire. It didn't seem real. I repeated it back to him to make sure I'd heard him correctly. My Property Manager and Maintenance guys ran like Hell out the front door, seconds later running back in to yell "CALL 911 CALL 911, IT'S BURNING FAST!!!" I started calling everyone that lived in that building all the while calling my Sister from my cell. She wasn't picking up and I just kept redialing. It was the building her and her roommates lived in with their 5 cats. It was my sister's building. Her apartment. Her fur-babies. I moved her in. The guilt rips through me like a hot knife. I am hyperventilating and sobbing and a resident is helping me as I scream at her to "Hurry, please hurry, your building is gone. Your cats are gone. Everything is on fire." Minutes later her roommate walks through the office door in her pajamas with only one shoe on. Tears streaming down her face. The cats wouldn't leave the apartment. She went back for them. The maintenance guy went back for them. Each time they would dart back under the bed. All of them, gone... weeks later we still looked for them in hopes they ran out. I still hope I'll see one.
 
Hardly anything survived that fire. By the grace of God, all children with the exception of one were at school. My Property Manager and one of our Maintenance men pulled an old lady out of her apartment, the same Maintenance man caught my daughter's friend and her mother from the second story window. Every last pet perished. Including an 80 pound black lab that I often confused for my own. The month it took to clean up the aftermath was the worst month ever. I passed it daily to get to/from work. The smell gave the Husband flashbacks of nearly every call he ever went on as an EMT/Fire Fighter. Things were pretty rough... but there were also quite a few God moments that surprised us all.
 
Moments after the first call.
 
This window looked into my Sister's bedroom.
 
My Sister's patio furniture that sat in her breezeway next to her bedroom.
 
The bathroom tiles in her shower looked as if they'd always been that black. Tools from two stories above were in her bathroom as if they'd always been there. I am so grateful everybody was out of the building when it collapsed.
 
I began posting on Facebook about all 10 families losing everything, with only a few having renter's insurance. Donations started pouring in. We could barely get into the other half of our office through the sea of clothing, toiletries, bedding, furniture, etc. A local storage complex ended up donating 3 storage units and a 14' covered trailer for us to transport donations to residents.
 
We had some odd and end gift cards that were awkward when split 10 ways (between the 10 families) so the kids and I put together 10 gift baskets with items most people wouldn't think of when settling into a new place. I.e., extra hangers, toilet scrubber, tissues, toilet paper, air fresheners, chip clips, etc... We had over $2000 worth of gift cards donated from strangers for Walmart, Target and Chick-Fil-A that I evenly distribute between the baskets and secured with the chip clips.

And then the demolition really began... Baby books were found, fireproof safes, fire arms, 10 untouched Coach purses (go figure, right?)
 
Amazingly enough, my Sister's artwork survived. They were all soaked, but practically untouched.

As was her boyfriend's tool chest.
 
 
 
 
 
 
To be continued...

4 comments:

  1. Fuck, this was exhausting to read. I'm so sorry. About everything. Granny, the fire, the loss of a person, of things, of probably sanity at times. Fuck.

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    1. Exhausted is pretty much exactly how I've felt since Februaryish. Fuck indeed. Things are hopefully looking up, with the exception that the starter in my snazzy she-beast X-terra just went out.

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  2. WOW! You have been through the wringer. I lost my grandma earlier this year... not fun.

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    1. Definitely been through the wringer. Also, experiencing Mother's Day for the first year without either of my Grandmothers was a little rough. I'm hoping 2013 turns around at some point, as this shit's getting old.

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