My mom just called from Russia to tell me that my grandfather died. He has been slowly dying over the last several months and was a huge burden on my mom whom he abused her entire life in all kinds of ways. He died in her hands, happy. She said for the last couple of days his demeanor changed, as if he felt his end coming. He stopped screaming insults at her when she tried to feed him or change him, stopped trying to hurt her, grew soft and thoughtful. Their last conversation, she said, was this:
"You're in pain. I'll call the ambulance," she said.
"No." He shook his head. "I don't need no ambulance."
"What do you need then? Is anything bothering you?"
Then she gave him a cup of tea. He smiled and expired.
He was an asshole and yet a very hurt human being. He had a violent childhood and lived through terrible abuse. Of course, it's not an excuse. I barely know him. I don't remember him from when I was little, and in my adult life I have seen him maybe 3 times. But I can't help it but to feel sorrow, and I'm devastated because I can't afford to fly out and see him, and on top of it my mom and my aunt have no money for the funeral. The realities of Russian life for you. I wonder if the authorities will simply let his body rot.
My mom said that one of her friends has lost her mother two years ago and have gotten a credit in the bank for the funeral that took her two years to pay off. I wonder about this...death seems almost a release from harsh realities of life. Dead don't care if they get properly buried or not, they're done existing, done suffering.
I'm racking my brain for anything I can say here in the memory of my grandfather, anything I can recall having heard from anyone. It's not much. He grew up in one of the villages by Vladivostok, or maybe I am wrong. I don't remember exactly. I only know that he was adopted, that he has Mongolian blood in him and was possibly one of the Chukchi people or some other ethnic minorities that populated the Russian coast. He knew how to hunt and survive in the wilderness since he was a child, he played an accordion, he sang. He was strikingly beautiful. My grandparents married very young, and then divorces after my aunt was born. Ironically, about 10 years ago (I might be wrong here) they moved in back together, as to survive financially it was more feasible to rent out my grandpa's apartment. Years of drama ensued. Every time I would call, some new horrific event would have transpired, mostly my grandparents enacting their pain in lieu of therapy on my mom, and her snapping and sometimes hurting them back.
But I digress. I'm supposed to be writing good things.
I don't what to write. I don't know what to feel. I feel grief, for humanity as a whole, for the torment we cause each other, out of fear. For the yearning to love and be loved, and for the inability to do so due to who knows what. Ghosts from the past. Insecurities. Doubts. How easy it would've been to simply reach out to each other, yet we wage wars. Big wars that engulf whole countries, and little wars to which only kitchen walls and an occasional banged up frying pan used as weapon is a witness.
Grandpa, I know you didn't want to see me the last time I came to visit Moscow. I know you barely knew who I was, you were scared of me. I am sorry we didn't get to spend more time together. I am happy you are no longer in pain. You passed away in your daughter's hands. What could be better?
Rest in peace.
I love you.
Your granddaughter Ksenia.