Friday, November 17, 2017

Oma and Opa's deaths

When I was a kid, my dad intervened in his parents' marriage. They lived in a small one bedroom apartment. My grandfather got a bed in the bedroom. My grandmother was sleeping on the couch, not a foldout couch, just an ordinary couch.

My grandmother was being treated for cancer. My father felt she deserved a proper bed, so he rented a second apartment for her two stories up in the same building.

My grandfather was furious, because he felt his wife had left him. He stopped eating and died. He was 86 when he died.

My grandmother died six months later. My father had her body autopsied. She was clear of cancer when she died, one of the first successful radiation treatments for breast cancer. She was 79 when she died.

She died from the stress of losing my grandfather. I remember her giving me-- just before she died --some of her gold items that she had managed to carry with her out of Germany when she fled the holocaust. She told me she wanted me to have them because she didn't have anything to live for any more now that my grandfather was gone.

I still have those things in my safe deposit box. One of them is a gold locket with a picture of her and my father when my father was a baby

They lived in N.Y. We lived in Wisconsin. We shouldn't have left her alone like that, but we did.

Still I was surprised. She never got along with my grandfather. They often bickered. She often complained of him. He seemed crotchety to me.

Yet she couldn't live without him.

My father thought he was helping, but he hastened their deaths.

I concluded at the time that there was something about relationships that had to include fighting and at least low level abuse, that somehow people couldn't survive without those things, even if they complained about them


I'm bringing this up, in part, because of the recent "me too" scandals.  The way male mistreatment of women seems so pervasive.