Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Goodnight, Irene



I can't believe it's been nine years since my grandma passed away. I still have clothes from back then! Hey-oh! But seriously folks. I wanted to do something nice for the dead broad because she sincerely meant a lot to me. She was the only person in all of my childhood that liked me. My family loved me, but they didn't really like to be around me or spend time with me. Grandma did. She used to call me her helper, but I liken myself more to a lapdog. She taught me how to read, how to draw barns, and how to box-step. She showed me Shirley Temple, Lawrence Welk, and that Pecan Dream is the best flavor of ice cream. In short, she taught me to be an old lady. To this day my mouth still waters when I hear someone talk about thimbles.

I looked for any and every excuse to be at her house. There were even two periods in my childhood when I was lucky enough to live with her: once when my dad chased us out of our trailer with a gun, and again when my mom went into rehab. Those events should have sad or angry feelings attached to them. They don't. All I can remember is how I was beside myself with excitement because I got to move into Grandma's. I slept in her room in a twin bed across the room from her twin bed. It was just like "I Love Lucy"! Actually, the whole situation reminds me of a realistic "I Love Lucy" reunion; 40 years later, Ricky's dead and Little Ricky's a drunken fuck-up so he sends his gay kid to live with his Grandma Lucy. I'd watch that! Anyhow, those were some of the happiest times of my life. It was during those periods that she got me into gameshows, scrapbooking, and rice pudding. What if that never happened!?!

As years went on my mom got herself a little more together and we moved out on our own. I finally made a couple friends my age at school, and Grandma started suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's. Eventually, she couldn't live alone and had to be moved to a care facility. Later, it got so bad she could no longer walk, speak, or eat because the Alzheimer's took over those parts of her brain. On September 22nd, nine years ago, she died of Alzheimer's.

But that's not how she'd want to be remembered and that's not how I intend to remember her. And even though she trained me to be an old biddy (and I'm so grateful for that) that's not how I'll remember her either. Grandma made me feel completely safe when nobody else did. That's very important when you're little and weird. So thank you, Grandma Irene, for making me feel safe. It's saved my life more than once, I'm sure. I love you!

Some photos of the lady.



Still a teenager in Alberta, Canada. Feeding a deer, as you do.



IRENE EMERSON: CAREER GIRL. My grandma worked part-time as a phone operator and a seamstress.



My grandma always wore black on Christmas. Class.




Goodnight, Irene.

13 comments:

Brett said...

Awwww, thanks Cole, that was beautiful. It also happened to explain a lot about you...

I lost my grandmother when I was just out of college. I have a theory that one never stops missing one's grandma. Except for me it was apple pie, not rice pudding.

PS: Loved your show on Friday!

billycheer@gmail.com said...

omg Cole this is so sweet it's making me cry robot tears and rusting all my circuits

Ross said...

Oh my gosh. That is so sweet and sad. Aww.

Anonymous said...

To the little and weird in all of us and those who shepard us through. This was lovely. Ole Lawrence is on Saturday nights at 6PM in NY on PBS, by the way. I linger for a moment when I see it just to remember ...my grandma!

~TJ said...

Awww Cole, what a Sweet old dear you are.
Very touching.

~TJ.

Pendalaque said...

Thanks, Cole. I really enjoyed reading that.

Cali said...

This was beautiful. I lost my beloved grandmother (who always made me feel safe, too,) ten years ago on January 13th, 1999. I was 37 and I still miss her every day. She's still in most of my dreams, too.

Cole Escola said...

Thanks for all these sweet comments. I'm glad there is a whole community of Pro-Grandma folks.

Markie said...

omg cole! my high school is doing a musical called "cole!" based on the life of cole porter but when i heard i was like "COLE ESCOLA WROTE A MUSICAL?!?! " and got all happy. i looked like a fool but in a good way

thedownpayment said...

a very nice story, cole. im sure youre grandma would toast the person youve become!

ps: was she canadian? or was she just visiting alberta? if she was canadian and youre part canadian...that would make a lot of sense! canadians are a comic bunch...

Danny said...

You were soo cute on law and order!

joelg said...

Its been a few weeks since you posted this, but I just found it. I know your pain. My beloved grandma is thankfully still with us, but she spent almost two weeks in the hospital and just got out a few days ago. It was the scariest moment of my life when I heard she was taken in. My mom and dad were both drunks/drug addicts and he abused her and all that crap. Anywho, and when I was about 5, my grandma snuck into where my mom lived (my mom and dad split but still saw each other) and of course they weren't there, and she took my 3 brothers and I and we lived with her. She always loved and accepted me even when I told her I was a homo all she said was 'At least I know someone who will appriciate the flower gardens I put out!" Its amazing just how awsome grandmas in general can be!!

Anonymous said...

Wow, you have no idea how much this meant to me. It was so nice, and sweet. And it made me think so much of my Grandma, who passed away about two months ago. She used to sing me to sleep when I was little with the song "Good night, Irene" and when I was kicked out for being gay, I moved in with my Grandma, who always accepted me. Thanks for posting this!