March 19, 2004
Moving in with us was quite an adjustment for Grandma and Grandpa. At least Grandma knew where she was, but Grandpa thought he was still in their old apartment. The first night I awoke to loud banging and cursing. Grandpa was stumbling around in the hallway closet trying to find the bathroom and nearly put his fist through the wall in frustration (now I saw where Dad got it from). Grandma came shuffling out and started yelling at him that there was a bathroom right in their bedroom, so what was he doing out in the hallway?
They woke up the rest of the house and Dad drifted downstairs to investigate the ruckus. Eventually things calmed down, Grandpa found the right place to pee, and everybody went back to bed. It took me a long time to fall asleep again and it would be the first of many sleepless nights for me. The next night I zonked out early since I was exhausted from a day of looking after my grandparents and unpacking all their shit.
I wasn’t sure what it was, but something woke me in the middle of the night. I took in my surroundings through half-lidded eyes and noticed that my bedroom door was ajar and light was spilling in from the hallway. Strange… I always slept with my door closed. Why was it open? Oh well. I was too tired to get up and close it, and I shrugged it off and started to drift off again. Until I sensed something in the room. I opened my eyes and noticed there was an object dangling over my face. It took a couple of seconds before I realized it was a flaccid old penis.
Grandpa was lost again, and he thought my room was the bathroom and I was the toilet. He was ready to let rip. Holy fucking shit.
“WHOA!” I yelled in the darkness. I yelled, Grandpa yelled, and pandemonium broke out once more. Thank God I woke up in time, otherwise I would have been scarred for life. The next day I went digging around in the basement. Dad had buckets of old doorknobs and picked one with a lock and changed out the one on my bedroom door. That night I avoided any close calls with being peed on, but I wasn’t able to avoid being woken up again. I was jarred awake by the sound of Grandpa rattling the knob and then trying to body slam the door open.
“WHY IS THE GODDAMN DOOR LOCKED?” he bellowed out in the hallway. This time Dad didn’t even bother coming downstairs to see what was the matter. Grandma joined in the yelling in the hallway and this became a nightly ritual. It took a few weeks but Grandpa finally figured out where the bathroom was, and thankfully didn’t forget. He did forget to wash his hands, though. I’d do the dishes after the dinner and he’d come back from the bathroom and start drying them with the kitchen towel. Ugh.
But it wasn’t just forgetfulness. He’d long ago given up on personal hygiene and didn’t shower for months after moving in with us. He stayed in bed all day, only emerging for dinner and going back to bed afterwards. Of course he sat right next to me at the table, smelling like a rhinoceros. How Grandma was able to sleep with him I couldn’t understand. I could barely eat without gagging.
I ended up thankful that Grandpa slept most of the time. Apart from his bathroom fails he was calm and pleasant to me when he was awake, but about two weeks after moving in with us he turned on me and never went back. For starters, he seemed to think I was Cousin Bill, and apparently he was very angry at Bill for some reason. I was making toast in the kitchen one night and Grandpa heard me and came to see who it was.
“Oh, it’s you,” he said nastily as he poked his head around the doorway. Then he turned and shuffled back down the hallway to the bedroom.
“What were you doing out there?” Grandma demanded. “Get into bed.”
“Cousin Bill is in the apartment,” he told her.
“What?” Grandma asked. She was hard of hearing, and Grandpa had next to no patience. Not a good combination. Sure enough the next thing I heard was:
“I SAID, COUSIN BILL IS IN THE APARTMENT!”
Grandma yelled at him to stop yelling, and that went on for a couple of minutes until they finally quieted down and got into bed. Sheesh.
The next morning was Saturday and I woke up to the sound of someone yelling. I thought it was our annoyingly loud Italian neighbors and I was ready to go back to sleep when I realized it was Grandpa. He was hanging out the side door screaming Grandma’s name. What the fuck? I dashed out of bed, noting as I ran through the house that nobody else seemed to be home. Where were they?
The side door led to the basement, and when I opened the door leading into the house I saw Grandpa on the verge on heading down the bare concrete steps. Grandpa was very unsteady on his feet and had I gotten there a few seconds later I might have witnessed a tragedy. I nearly caused one just opening the door because that completely startled him. He yelled that I scared the shit out of him and even took a swing at me. Whoa. I hurriedly took a step back and stayed out of his way as he came inside.
Dad showed up a half-hour later with Grandma. Apparently she had a doctor’s appointment. Gee, thanks for letting me know. I was furious and lit into him immediately. Disappearing without a word and leaving me sound asleep with an Alzheimer’s patient in the house? Great idea, Dad. Of course none of the doors were locked or anything. Grandpa could have gone face first down the basement steps, wandered outside and gotten lost, or who knows what else.
Meanwhile Grandpa was back in bed, and when he emerged for dinner that night he muttered “piece of shit” as he shuffled into the kitchen and saw me at the table. That’s how dinner started forever afterwards. And after he plopped his stinky ass down he’d glare at me anytime I spoke and occasionally unload invective and verbal abuse in my direction. Several times I’d have to leave the table and eat in the other room. Dad seemed to relish these moments, sitting back in his chair with his hands folded over his stomach and a satisfied little smirk on his face. My comeuppance, I suppose, for daring to talk back to him.
I still needed to learn respect.