Bad Connection

I bought my grandmother a new cell phone. The look on her face when she received the phone was of pure happiness and joy. I had never seen this side of her. She was outright giddy. This was the second cell phone my grandmother has owned in her 75 years of life. The first one she had I bought for her.

After getting over her excitement about getting her first “smart phone” she could “swipe” with…she asked me to make a call. She needed me to show her how to jump into the 21st century and call her friends and her doctor’s office. I decided I would make the call and give her the assistance she needed.

“What’s the number?” I asked.

She paused for a minute.

I waited.


“You don’t need to press 1.” I told her.


“You don’t need to press 1.”

She furrowed her brow.

“You don’t?”

“Just give me the number.”

She paused for thought.

I waited.


“I need the area code.” I replied.

“I thought you said you don’t need that.”

I sighed. I had to remember to be patient. It has been a long time since I’ve had to explain how to make a call from a cell phone.

“You don’t have to press 1. It doesn’t matter if it’s long distance. You still need the area code.”

She gave me the area code and I made the phone call on her behalf.  After a few minutes I handed the phone over to her. I watched as my grandmother had a stern conversation with the “lazy” secretary at her doctor’s office.

I just watched and thought about how weird it was having her here in my home…with my family. I had never in my life spent this much time with her. It has been a full 8 days talking, laughing and enjoying our favorite things together.

My grandmother flew to Bakersfield from Providence, RI. Rhode Island was where she had always been when I was growing up. It seemed like a far away land. A million miles away. She only came to visit once in a blue moon and when she did it was never a pleasant time. She came and left leaving a dark cloud over all of us.

At least that was my opinion of her as a child and I am sure it was the same opinion the rest of my family had. I remember thinking she was mean, high maintenance and unkind to children. I didn’t really want her to visit.

There was a bad connection in the family. What I grew to believe about her was in some cases was skewed. I used to watch her through dim colored glasses just waiting for the next time she said something rude and disrespectful.  I lived viewing her the way I used to when I was a child.

She wasn’t perfect. She had a child at 14 and was told to stay home and raise her child or go to school. In this case she did what any child would do. She left her daughter with her mother and grandmother and went off to school. She believed she was doing what was right. I don’t know if what she decided was the right decision but it set off a wicked chain of bad information or perceptions that spanned decades and generations.

My only opinion of her came from a daughter who felt like she was abandoned as a child. Her pain and opinion of her mother was poured lavishly all over her children denying us the chance to form our own opinions about the woman that brought her into this world.

I always felt something was missing, however. Part of me held on to the fact she could not have been as bad and as rude or as horrible of a mother as she was made out to be.

I felt it in my soul.

I wanted to believe that she was not such a terrible person. I am not known to be very forgiving or to take too many chances on people. Yet, I felt like I needed to leave the past in the past and break the cycle of years of disdain and pain passed from generations. I had to end it.

Bad blood flowed through their veins spewing hatred and foul words about the women who gave them birth. There was a lack of communication. My mother had deep issues with her mother and my grandmother had similar issues with hers.  Hearing my mother’s stories and my grandmother’s story led me to believe that their memories were based on how they perceived the situation and memories given to them by others. How else could my mother know things about situations she wasn’t born to witness?

Everyone has a past and a series of bad connections and misunderstandings. Those things should not stand in the way of your happiness. It is better to leave the past in the past and grow from the those mistakes and not hang on to them. When we have been hurt, I have learned, you find a way to let things go and forgive. My mother didn’t get a chance to forgive her mother and let it all go. She died before she could do that. My Great-grandmother died before my grandmother had the same chance.

Well, I am still here.

I plan to end that bad connection and start fresh. I have forgiven my mother and my grandmother for the hurt they have caused each other in hopes that even through death…we can all find some piece.


5 thoughts on “Bad Connection

  1. It’s so beautiful you’ve learned more about your grandmother through your own eyes, instead of only through the bitter stories from others. Connecting with her will heal your heart and give your own children a new perspective of their grandmother.

  2. Donnee, this is a wonderful post on so many levels. One, I love the title “Bad Connection” and how the piece started about the cell phone and morphed into family relationships and how they were “bad connections”. Two, the cycle you are breaking and model you are showing to your girls is such a great example for them. Thank you for your genuineness and sharing this with us. Hugs, xoA

  3. So be it, Donnee! I applaud your willingness to be the first in your family to let go of the past. And this post is awesome in its honesty in dealing with a difficult subject matter. Well done. 🙂

  4. I love this post Donnee. I am living with my 85 year old mom and she is so great about her technology but it still amazes her. I think you captured that part so well. I remember a few years ago when she got her first computer she did not know how to use the mouse. So she knew how to move it around but did not know how to make it stay in one place… we had a talk about “clicking” the mouse. It was so new for her… and patience is the key!

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