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  • My grandmother, Dorothy, wanted me and my sisters to feel as unhappy as she did. As a little girl, this was a difficult concept to understand.

    There are so many tender, loving moments with my grandmother, that I remember when I was 4,5, & 7. She spent time with me; teaching me how to write and do simple math before I went to kindergarten, and other things.

    I believe it was around 8 years old when her behavior starting getting bizarre; but, looking back, that was probably the age that I could start to understand that what she was doing was odd.

    I had grown, to this point, on the farm near Grandma Mary, who was always loving. Then I was ripped from that life, and tossed into this new place...with Grandma Dorothy, which is not what we called her. She would do things that were very mean and hurtful, and I remember thinking that she is acting like she doesn't love me, but grandmas are supposed to love me; so I must be mistaken. It was around 8 years old that I realized, she doesn't love me. That was a foreign concept for me, and I was at a loss as to how I should act.

    Grandma Dorothy would manipulate me and my sisters into doing this dance of turning on each other, and then sit back and grin and enjoy the show. Yes, I actually saw her grin several times. She would pit us, in every situation, against someone we loved, even involving school friends, as we got older. She would do it to my mother and father, and to their friends that visited our house; and, she would do it to her own friends, those that she had left.

    And the holidays or, that was when she ramped it up a whole lot. For instance, I never received a birthday present from her. A week or so before my birthday, she would whip something up to manipulate me into doing something so wrong. I would be the awful girl that did not deserve a birthday or a present. She also made any kind of a birthday celebration just one that you ended up not wanting to have, anyway.

    Daily, she beat us down with constant remarks of our uselessness and worthlessness; the bitterness hung around her like a giant cloud. All we wanted to do was escape her...but she lived with us.

    She died when I was a young mother at the age of 25. I was so relieved, so happy, that this weight had been lifted. I was also very sad, with regret, that it had to be the way it was.

    One of my sisters asked me not long ago if I have ever forgiven my grandmother. I told her I had; that I do remember the tender moments, when it almost felt like there was some love in my grandmother. I cannot know what my grandmother's childhood was like, if she was tortured as she tortured us, and if she was ever loved. I believe that it would be a sad story. All I want to do, when I think of my grandmother now, is to take her into my arms, pat her back gently, and tell her it is okay...that it will all be okay...and that she doesn't have to hurt anymore.
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