We didn’t need Disney, my mother’s step-monster, was the real thing. There were no pictures of our side of the family to be hung in my PeePaw’s House, when we were there we were not treated sorely but we also were not treated as if we were welcome.
The kicker? She was an elementary school teacher, actually the most popular one in town. Everyone loved her (Everyone still loves her), and she loved all of her student …that’s because she had me put in a spanish as a first language class when I was in her grade so that she would not have to have me in her class. I spent weeks at a time with them sometimes, and although she wasn’t all bad, she wasn’t necessarily all good. She is the reason I studied to become a teacher ironically.
When I was 14 my PeePaw had a heart attack. He and my father had opened a car wash together in the mid-nineties. It was quite the ordeal as the Chamber of Commerce arrived with a large pair of Gold and Black wooden scissors, and they spread a gold gleaming ribbon across the five bays of our little self service car wash. I remember Dad’s smile of pride as he cut the ribbon, and I remember his picture in the grains of the local newspaper. My mother (a now widow) and I maintained the car wash for a little extra income. She arrived to the hospital waiting room with her brother-in-law who was infamous in our small town for being a crooked lawyer, and her sister, a fiery red head whose face rested in a snarl at all times (at least when looking in my direction). They handed mom paperwork demanding the car wash be placed in her name and then sold. She of course would take all the profit from this sale, but my mother was no push over and did not let the lawyer treat her in this manner. Pee Paw survived and nothing was spoken of it again.
When I was 20 PeePaw was in the hospital again, I can’t even remember what initially for (
perhaps she was poisoning him) it all became such a downhill fall so quickly. She was rarely at the hospital, I was attending the University across the street so I would walk there between classes. His sister was at the same hospital for lung cancer and she would tell me tales of that woman and more in depth views on all the ways she had attempted to corrupt him and how he had realized she did not love him but the idea of the money he made as a cotton merchant (yes, at the time that was an actual business, and it actually made big money). About a week into the hospital she arrived, again with her Brother-in-law and sister in tow. The entire family was in the room praying that PeePaw would pull through, and with no hesitation she placed a document in front of him and demanded a divorce. By this point she had of course already emptied all their bank accounts and we could not trace where it was hidden making it my mom and her sister’s responsibility to front the cost of care for PeePaw through his remaining years.
When I was 28 I went back to my hometown with B and Lil’ A in tow. We were leaving the mall through Dillard’s when I saw her. If you ask my friends I have not aged a day, not that I look like an older version of myself, no I actually still look like my 14 year old self exactly. I saw the snarl first over a make up counter, and then beside the disgusted face was an incredibly aged and withered version of a witch I once knew. “Hi!” It came out before I knew I was even speaking. She stopped and smiled, the smile your second grade teacher gives you when they are trying to place what year you were, and which class.
“Oh how are you,” she asked with a pleasant smile. Her sister’s snarl grew, I knew she recognized me at least.
“We are good,” I then went on to tell her about my brothers’ and their success’s and that’s when you saw the dawning of who I was cover her face. She turned pale as a ghost and very suddenly decided she had somewhere to be in a hurry.
B asked me, “who was that?”
“The one and only wicked witch, she is as scary as she looked.” It wasn’t kind, but I couldn’t help it. You were my grandmother for the first two decades of my life, you held me in the hospital the day I was born, you dressed me for my first day of 1st grade, you showed me what it was to be a great educator, you sent me to my first prom, and you didn’t even recognize me 8 years later…