FILED IN: Parenting

Old Ghosts

I love watching scary movies – especially, at this time of year – but, I’m not talking about the slice and dice slasher films, where the body count is higher than the I.Q. of the teenagers prancing around half-naked in them.

“Just don’t answer the phone and stay away from the lake, dammit!”

You know, the ones where Freddy Kruger vs. Jason for the eleventh time and Michael Meyers never takes off his mask and insists on making other innocent young people miserable (not to mention, dead) on Halloween!

“Just don’t go back into the house and stay away from the windows, dammit!”

How many times can a deranged murderer reanimate, before the plot starts to get really stupid, anyway?

“Just leave him lying there and stay away from his hands!”

Nope, I’m not allowed to go see them — in public, or with OTHER people, either — not until the film gets released on video and I can ridicule the heck out of the protagonist, who happens to be female, almost every time.

SCREAAAAM!


No, I have no sympathy for a supposed heroine, who nearly misses getting skewered, or having an axe buried into her head, because directors insist that all women lose their sense of balance, whenever frightened.

“Shut up and run, you stupid BITCH!”

 Although, I must admit, Sigourney Weaver kicks Aliens ass!

“I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”

Rock on, Ripley!

You see, the thought of ever having to face down a creature with two heads that spit acid, or being forced to mate with the devil, or spawning little extra-terrestrials with awfully bad tempers, is just not that scary to me.

However, I believe there are plenty of other things much more frightening in real life and, if I were to put a smell to fear, all I’d have to do is reach deep into my childhood and pull out the memories long buried among musty old clothes and water-logged work boots.

The thought of being locked in a closet, climbing high up in an attic, or descending a creaky set of stairs into a basement, is much more frightening to me and a memory made all the more unpleasant by having to sit in the impenetrable dark, alone.

Do you believe in ghosts?

My grandmother did.  In fact, she used to tell my twin brother and me some really scary stories of maleficent spirits made all the more troublesome by unwary children who did NOT listen to their grandparents.

You see, when she was a girl, my grandmother lived in a small village in Hungary (I don’t even think it’s on a map, really) and was used to traveling wherever its villagers could find work.  It was a self-sustained nomadic sort of life that bore with it tales of warring gypsy camps and a world that was ruled by folk lore and shamans.

My brother and I would sit at the foot of the sofa, as she retold the same stories, over and over again, but we loved hearing them and adored my grandmother, just the same.

Until she and my step-grandfather would fight and… well… that’s when the really scary part comes into play.

One time, I made the mistake of getting in between them and spent the rest of the night huddling in a dark closet and rocking, back and forth, to keep myself from falling asleep.

Oh yeah, my parents knew exactly what an “old bastard” my step-grandfather was – to this day, my mother cannot even speak about her childhood – and his first words to my father, when he introduced himself on their first date, were:

“Just, don’t bring home a baby on my doorstep.”

‘Nuf said.

But, my parents had two jobs and two children to feed, and once my brother and I started going to school we moved in upstairs from them – even though my father hated the fact that he “bit the bullet” – it was the best that they could do at the time and were hoping to save up for a house of their own, one day.

That day finally did come – when my brother and I turned 13 – and I still remember spending the first night in our new house without any heat and one side of the living room wall finally caving in from all water damage.

Still, it was way better than spending another night in his house.

I haven’t seen or heard from the “Old Bastard” since I got married and moved out of my parents’ house and – especially, after the birth of our 1st child – my husband and I saw only my grandmother, who unfortunately chose to suffer through another 20 years of abuse, before she finally left the “Old Bastard” and moved in with my parents.
She lived another 5 years and I often times thought how sad it was that – after living for 92 years – she would tell everyone that these were the best years of her life.

It will be 5 years since she died on October 10 and I chose to remember only the good times we shared, a long time even before that.  She’s the only grandmother that we had and, well, I still miss her, a lot.

“I found Uncle Jimmy’s death notice, today.”

My husband’s uncle passed away last Thursday night and Halloween isn’t looking very happy, for anyone, at the moment.

“And… um… I found out something interesting, too.”

[eyes go wide]

“No, seriously?

You see, I haven’t thought about the “Old Bastard” in years – although, the dreams sometimes find their way back – and the news of his death was the last thing I’d ever thought, would make me cry.

“He wasn’t a good grandfather, you know!”

Still, I felt very, very sad and tried to search for the right words to explain to my husband exactly how I could mourn the death of man who’s caused so much pain to so many and ruined nearly everything that he ever touched, or came to him in life.

“But, he was the only grandfather I knew.”

You see, I am in mourning of something that I could had – nothing idyllic, just a simple childhood filled with loving grandparents – but, I guess it’s  time to put old ghosts to rest.

“Are you going to tell your parents?”

My parents came to watch their youngest grandchildren play soccer, yesterday and I finally decided to tell them, after coffee.

“Good, now we can move on.”

Rock on, Mama!

“Perhaps your grandmother can rest, knowing that we are ALL at peace.”

Yes, I am content that my children are lucky to have all 4 of their grandparents in their lives and will never know what it is like to feel that frightened – not be me, or the grandparents.

Amen.

Oh, and did I mention, we don’t have a basement, or an attic?