I had conversations yesterday with my grandmother.
She likes to talk about trips to the ocean. How, when me and my siblings were little, we would come to visit, and then we’d go down to the shore for a week or two. These trips come up at least twice a week at dinner, and my reaction is usually this: “It wasn’t me, I wasn’t there. I didn’t see the ocean until I was like twelve.”
Then my grandmother will ask who she went to the shore with, and I’ll look at her blankly.
I’m not sure why she’s fixated on the idea that we’d gone to the beach like that. As my mother has said from time to time, while her other relatives did (and still do) that, it wasn’t something that my grandmother had ever enjoyed doing. Even my grandfather told me, probably fifteen years ago, that she simply didn’t like going out in the sun.
Our conversation yesterday. She was talking about little kids. Don’t ask me how or why, I simply don’t recall. Little kids.
Her: “Do you remember the time when we went walking on a pier out into the ocean?”
Me: “I can’t say that’s something we ever did.”
Her: “You were little. Three. And I threw you into the ocean.”
Me: “Wasn’t me. Nope, that wasn’t me.”
Her: “You were really small. Maybe you were two. You were too young to remember.”
Me: “It’s not that. It’s that I’ve never been to the ocean with you.”
And she went from giggling to hostile at the drop of a hat, insisting that I was simply too young to remember that she threw me, at the age of two or three, off a pier and into the ocean.
Later, she was looking at pictures of when me and my siblings were young. She’d found a picture that would have been taken when we were in Illinois, and my youngest sister would have been maybe six months old. Probably Easter, 1980.
She stared at the picture. She could almost recognize the people in the picture. Almost. She knew that someone was my brother, and she knew that someone was my younger stister, but she had no idea that I was in the picture at all, and she had no idea who the baby in the picture was.
It was sad. I tried explaining the picture to her. It didn’t sink in, as a few moments later she asked the same questions about the picture that she’d asked before. Who is this person? Who is that person? Why isn’t my youngest sister in the picture?
Such is life. :/