Photos of Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee (Skip and Camie)
Well, as you can see ... I'm beginning to look better. Grief plays havoc on one's soul, body ... mentally. It played Hell with my ... everything. I have looked like Hell for 5 years.
Guess what? I didn't care ... I didn't give a damn how I looked ... much less how you thought I should look or didn't look. 'Didn't make me no never mind'.
Something clicked in me about 2 months ago ... since ... I have begun feeling good inside, outside. I've taken an interest in dressing pretty once again ... wearing make-up, earrings ... and all sorts of things.
I wonder if you can see the difference? I know that several times for a short time my photos reflected 'me' where I looked nice again. It never lasted long ... grief kept sucking me into the darkness where I constantly fought to stay afloat. I could have allowed myself to drown in the pain ... that fighting spirit I have ... even I'm amazed at it. Where did it come from?
I think of my Grandma Alma ... it came from her. She was paralyzed for many years after a stroke ... as a little girl living in her house ... I watched her fighting spirit. She never stopped.
My Grandma Alma was an amazing woman ... I truly wish I knew her now, as the adult woman I have become. She never showed her fear no matter she wasn't physically able to defend herself. Defend herself she did! When Grandma Alma raised Hell ... everyone stopped to listen ... if they didn't ... all Hell broke loose. That was when Grandma Alma had had enough.
Grandma Alma and the only grandfather I ever knew ... George ... protected me as a little girl. I think of them when I look back to see where I learned strength ... otherwise, where did it come from?
Grandma Alma was paralyzed ... George was blind. They were weak ... but, they were the strongest people I've ever known ... excepting Skip. They faced things head-on ... and no matter how it hurt them, scared them ... they faced it with burning hell-fire. Fight fire with fire ... they didn't back down ... they always had to fight for something ... even to have peace in their own home. Peace never lasted more than a few minutes ... unless everyone was asleep. Hell would break loose ... waking everyone up.
Sometimes ... I saw George who was a big man ... lose. As a little girl, I remember the pain in my Heart ... watching a big man fall. Even as young as I was ... I knew that was so wrong. I saw someone knock him down ... I have never forgotten. He was blind ... the person who did it was a ... female. It was so wrong ... oh my God ... it was so wrong, so awful.
Grandma Alma and George lived in Hell ... I grew up in Hell ... Hell was raised every day of their life. I can raise Hell with the best of them ... but, I don't choose to. Not many people have ever seen me raise Hell ... but, I promise you ... it's very ugly. That's why I don't choose to do it ... when I do it, I go for blood and I mean to win.
I learned that as a child ... I could have grown up to be ... a really bad person. I didn't have it in me. I only have it in me when my life, my loved ones, or someone ... or an animal can't defend themselves. Oh my God ... all Hell could break loose ... and it all be silent.
Silent Hell ... with a little, sweet smile that isn't sweet. That's me ... I don't like that at all. My Grandma Alma could do that ... one knew to watch out ... the Devil was coming for them ... the thing was ... they never knew when it would strike. That was the beauty of it! I loved my Grandma Alma ... I can see her in my mind's eye ....
Sitting in her old, upholstered rocking recliner ... when you looked into her clear, sharp blue eyes ... you saw such intelligence. She could hold her own in a conversation ... and match wits with the best. She had to have been something else before ... she had that horrible stroke. I heard only good things about her ... before her stroke. She worked very hard, and she had a flair for dressing. When she loved ... she loved.
Her hair was white, her skin very smooth ... the sun never got a chance to kiss it with lines, wrinkles. She had a laugh that would make everyone feel happy for hearing it. She could laugh as much as she could ... cuss. My Grandma Alma ... 'didn't take no shit'. If she did ... and you didn't know her ... you didn't know ... Hell was coming for you until it was too late.
Most people in my family turned to drugs, alcohol to cope with all the terrible things in life. As a young person, I tried to experiment ... I was too damn chicken to do anything ... yet, I had to save pride and say yes, I know what such and such feels like. Well, my secret is ... I don't know jack-shit what a lot of things taste ... or feel like. When young ... people are so dumb ... why does one feel like they have to pretend they did this or that ... they are the bravest, and will do things no one else has the nerve to?
I was the square when everyone else was round ... and I like round shapes better than square shapes! I don't like points at all! The funny thing is ... only the people (very few, I promise) who were close to me ... knew that I wasn't ... 'wild, daring, unafraid of anything'.
I was realistic ... I just met things head-on ... 'if you are going to kill me ... do it, or shut up'! :) I meet things in life without drugs, alcohol ... even pain medicines I really need.
Why? God, don't ask me 'why?' I think back to being a little girl ... I'm in Grandma Alma's semi-dark bedroom ... there's a little night-table ... on the surface are many, many bottles of pills. Oh, the fear inside me ... oh, Grandma ... you could die if you don't take all these medicines! I promised when I got big ... I wasn't going to have a lot of medicines to take so, I could live. I never wanted her to die. Wow ... I just felt the hot sting of tears behind my eyelids ... so much pain that's been buried. I need to let that rest now.
No one knew I learned to fear drugs, alcohol as a little girl. I knew it helped to create the Hell I lived in, and the physical and mental pain ... I suffered. Not only that ... all the other children who had to come live at Grandma Alma, and George's house. Some got to escape sooner than others ... into another Hell ... somewhere else. I don't think many of us ever knew calm, peace and quiet as a child. No one would believe ... what was amazing as I grew older ... was finding out it wasn't ... normal. It wasn't the way all children had to live. Damn ... wasn't that a bitch!
The thing is ... I 'fooled' everyone into thinking I was the ... coolest thing! That was part of the game of Life as a young person ... the secret was ' fool someone into thinking you are something ... you are not'. How many people do I see 'now' ... walking 'in my shoes'? I can name them right and left.
They feel they have to impress, make others think they have more than the other ... everyone knows if you have the best ... that means you are the best, right? Damn ... a young person can be so stupid, waste so much time in caring what everyone thinks.
Material things ... do ... not ... make ... a person. They only make them vain, selfish, lots of times ... ugly people who are braggarts. Everybody knows one or two in their life. No one wants them around ... they get sick and damn tired of listening to how much this cost, how much that cost ... and mine is bigger than yours ... and you don't have one!
Now ... as an older woman ... you can think what you want as long as I know who I am, and am happy with that person ... me. I am my best friend ... I like me. I am a good person ... I didn't say perfect person ... because I'm not ... but, I'm one of the best people I know ... even if I could be 'mean' as well as be ... good.
So, this is me today ... I feel my face is beginning to reflect the peace I have found inside ... regarding my son's death ... all the deaths in my family ... the very ass people I loved with my very Heart. So many ...
I keep thinking about what the oncologist told me not long ago ... 'you shouldn't be here today'. Maybe I am here because so many terrible things happened ... and all I could focus on was using my fighting spirit to get through them ... never knowing I was supposed to die. Damn ... everyone else I loved ... died. No one knew ... they ... were going to die. There was a time I 'knew' I was dying ... and later, several more times ... knew I was going to die. I lived, they didn't. So, what's up with that?
My only child ... Tommy. I knew he was always going to be there. Even he died ... so, what am I to think? What do you think? Do you realize that I have about 20 family members I truly loved in my life ... who died in the past 10-12 years? Very few are left today ... very few are in my life ... less than 3 fingers on my hand.
I almost lost Skip in a terrible tractor-trailer wreck in New Mexico. I lost all in a house fire ... both Skip and I survived cancer ... we both fought to live for 6 years. I almost died ... congested heart failure. Oh God, the list goes on ... but, I won't. It's just too ... tiresome to sit now ... think of all of them.
I don't ever dwell on all these things ... I just keep going forward ... as far as I can away from these things. So, you can see how my fighting spirit was, has been in action ... constantly. So ... somehow my focus was on the future ... even when I wasn't aware of it ... getting past all the terrible things happening in my life ... that I didn't know I was supposed to die.
It's the only thing I can think of. I wonder how you could explain it ... and you don't even know the half of the 'bad' things that happened in really a 'short' time.
See ... I didn't even know I 'shouldn't be here today' ... until several weeks ago. I am a sixteen-year survivor of cancer. Skip is a fourteen-year cancer survivor.
Through time ... I have seen the shock, horror in people's eyes when they saw me ... they knew I looked like a train-wreck ... they just didn't know how many trains had ... hit me.
Strange thing here ... no one came up to express concern ... the mean person in me thinks exactly this: 'f___ them'. They will ... get their day. Only I hope I have it in me ... to feel compassion for them. Maybe I will ... maybe I won't. That's the 'ugly' person in me saying this because ... I told you ... I ... am ... not ... perfect. The good thing here is ... I do care! :) I never-ever wish bad for anyone.
Another crazy-ass thing is how so many people can know you for years ... never bother to question what in the hell happened to you ... for you 'to look like that'. They pretend not to see. In my case, I was glad ... I didn't want anyone to ask me anything. A lot of people went on their own way glad to see that I didn't look like I once did ... after all ... everyone's glad when someone who has been attractive ... looks like a train has hit them. Especially ... women. It's a 'woman thing'. Don't you agree?
Now, I'm 'coming back' ... I'm 'seeing things' in the very people who pretended not to see me when I lived the worst years of my life ... who pretended to care 'before' that. Sometimes, I don't have compassion and I'm glad ... until my Heart takes over. Yes ... I do care. Even if no one cared how many trains had hit me.