So, you asked for my advice. I'm sort of flattered and sort of wondering if you are in your right mind. But...anyway.
The problem being whether you should or should not go visit your Grandmother with whom you have a rather rocky relationship with and not a lot of respect for, but she is perhaps dying.
My answer is easy.
Yes. You need to go see her. As you may already know, I had a terrible relationship with my Mother and she disowned me when I was 24. She died when I was 35 and pretty much died hating me. This is the part where all you good hearted people come rushing in to tell me that OF COURSE, she didn't hate me. She was my Mother, how could she hate her own child?
Well, it felt that way. At any rate...when my Sisters were fairly certain that she was near her death bed (and they were SO wrong, my Mother lived for months after she saw me...), they decided that they needed to let me know so that I could come back home to Iowa to see her and hopefully we could reunite and she could die knowing that all was well with us.
Best laid plans...
They either didn't know my Mother or they didn't know me. She was only prepared to see me if I came with hat in hand and told her that I was ready to make my confession to the nearest priest and go back to being a straight girl. I was very certain that I was not going to say or do any such thing.
So, the whole thing backfired and it was horrible.
So, A...you are now thinking that I am some sort of a sadist, aren't you? That I am leading you to go to see your Grandmother and it will all end badly and you will feel terrible.
Well, that could happen, yes. Or not. We don't know, do we?
The thing is, A...you need to go see her no matter how it ends. Because you will never forgive yourself or understand what happened when you are my age if you don't.
It could go badly, like mine did. I went to see my Mother and she sat staring at me waiting for me to hit my knees and beg her forgiveness. When I didn't, she coldly looked away from me and refused to say another word for the duration of my half hour visit. Instead, my Sisters awkwardly began to ask me inane questions about my work life (avoiding my personal life like gangbusters) and I woodenly answered them, my stomach churning as I sat in the bedroom that had been my parent's room, in the house that I grew up in, had a lovely childhood in. After a half hour, I said that I guessed I should leave. I walked to my Mother, leaned down and said, "I love you, Mother."
She looked me straight in the eye and said exactly five words to me: Don't forget to get mammograms.
She died of breast cancer a few months later without restoring me to my inheritance and not saying another word about me.
And my life, which was already spiraling towards a nasty addiction to drugs and alcohol, spiraled even faster. Because, really? The ultimate question was answered for me.
If your own Mother doesn't love you, how can you be worthy of anyone elses love, including your own?
And then something crazy happened. I came out the other side of the pain. Because it was the only way, you see. I had to either walk through the fire or be consumed by it and I chose the first. It was difficult and I still have lots of trouble with self love. I also have relationship issues, trust issues. I pretty much suck big large at love.
But...remarkably, what saved me was that I realized something. A truth that was difficult. I realized that maybe, just maybe...my MOTHER was lacking in something and I wasn't. That maybe, perhaps, this was on HER and not on ME. That her lack of acceptance and love of her own child said so much more about her than it did about me. About her weakness and her plain...shittiness as a person.
It took me a long, long time to let myself see that. Because, as her child, I wanted her to be right. I felt that the only answer was that she was right and I was wrong somehow.
Having a child of my own helped too. I was a little worried that I would not have enough love in my soul to be a good Mother, but by that time I was older and wiser and had realized that the fault was in her stars, not in mine. So, I had my child.
And now, I look at my daughter and I cannot even fathom disowning her for any reason. I can't foresee anything that she could do that would cause me to turn my back on her forever, to disown her from our family, her rightful place.
And yes, it used to infuriate me. Now, no. It doesn't. Now, I feel about my Mother the way I feel about racists. They do infuriate me, yes...but mostly I feel a sense of deep pity for their ignorance.
Yes, I have come full circle. I now pity my Mother. Because she lost ME. And you know, I wasn't worth letting go like that.
It has taken me DECADES to wallow through all that shit, A.
So, do me a favor and spare yourself. Go see your Grandmother. Maybe it will be truly wretched. Maybe you will come away feeling as if you were burned in a bad fire. Maybe your throat will feel scorched and your pain will be flying all over the place and you will feel as if you have no choice but to let it go or find a big suitcase to put it in until you can look at it with proper attention.
Or maybe, just maybe...it will be wonderful. Maybe you will be so glad that you went. Maybe you will ride home with tears rolling down your cheeks, feeling thankful that you had this time with her. This goodbye.
Either way, if you don't expose yourself to it...you will hate yourself for hiding from it somewhere down the line.
So, brace yourself and reach inside and find that piece of strength that will walk your legs through to her.
You might not thank me tomorrow or the next year or the next. Maybe not for a decade or two or three. But, eventually, you will be glad that you faced her. That you stood with a kind, but firm face and didn't fold, but didn't strike either.
I dare you to do this. And come back and tell us about it, if you can. If not, then...yes...put it away somewhere for now.
But, do it. Do it. Now.