By: La Swift
I remember hearing a loud thump and immediately jumping out of bed. I was only about 9 years old. I ran into the living room and saw my Great Grandmother just lying on the floor with a blank look on her face. I didn’t ask any questions. I just tried to help her up. After the struggle to get her off the floor, she leaned on me, and we took slow steps to her bedroom. Then, I laid her on the bed and wiped her face. She smiled at me as I lay next to her.
One night, it had been only Grandma Ann and I in the house, and she had been drinking as usual. I was in my room, and all I could hear was her sobbing and crying. I came into the living room to see what was wrong with her, but she couldn’t even talk. She just kept slurring her words and crying hysterically. I made out a couple of words she was trying to say, “Oh lord… why did you.” She was basically trying to ask God why he took her children away.
After a few failed attempts to talk to her, I went to go lay down in her huge, cold bed, which she never slept in. I dozed off for no longer than 5 minutes, heard a few shuffles, and then a loud thump. I jumped up quickly and ran into the living room. Grandma Ann was just lying on the floor. For a moment, my body froze, and I was just as helpless as my grandma seemed. I had to get my grandma off the floor. At nine years old, I was responsible for my drunken grandmother.
When Grandma Ann got drunk, it would be my responsibility to take care of her. My aunt would indulge in her behavior by providing her with alcohol. I never liked when she was intoxicated because I knew that her inner demons were in that bottle. Every time she drank, they’d torment her, and I’d have to empathize with and help her through it. I, just like every bottle she drank, could never take away her pain. I just hoped that the little I did do would make her see the light at the end of the tunnel, but all she saw was the darkness of the bottle.
I would think the drinking would come to an end after a near-death experience my grandmother had due to drinking excessively. I was in my first semester in college. Besides the stressor of being away from home, I had to worry about her drinking. She would call me every night drunk telling me how much she loved me and was proud.
“I can’t wait until you graduate I know we gone be alright,” she would slur. I could tell by her voice if she’d had a few beers. Then, one week the calls stopped coming in. The weekend passed, and I still didn’t hear from Grandma Ann! What’s going on? Let me call my grandma! I called the house phone consistently. No one answered. So, I called P Swift (Great Grandma Ann’s Daughter). She answered the phone and said she would call me back. Now I’m concerned. My mind is all over the place. I don’t know what to think.
Hours passed. Finally, my Aunt Theresa called me and told me Grandma Ann was in the hospital. She told me that my Great Grandmother, the lady who adopted me and raised me from a child to an adult, had a stroke and a heart attack. I broke down in tears Grandma Ann means everything to me. My first thought when I regained my conscious was I need to get to Brooklyn ASAP.
The next day, I was on the 12:35pm Greyhound bus to NYC. It felt like the longest four hours of my life. I cried the whole way listening to my favorite song “Dreams Money Can Buy” by Drake. I prayed that my Great Grandmother made it. I can’t live if she dies.
When I reached New York City, I went straight to the hospital to visit my Grandma. I immediately started crying. There were wires and tubes coming from everywhere around her. I sat on the bed with Grandma Ann as she slept so peacefully just rubbing her hand and talking to her, hoping she would hear me and wake up.
“La-La baby when you got here,” I heard the joy in her voice that she was glad I came to see her.
“I’m never going back to school grandma I’m staying here to take care of you!”
“No, you have to finish college. I promise I’m going to be okay. Just get that degree for me baby.” Grandma Ann made me cry again. I was fine until she said that. I made a promise to my Great Grandmother that I was going to finish college and make her proud if she promised to be strong and stop drinking. Of course, she agreed, but a few months later, she was back on the booze. She would try to send me to the store for her to buy beers because I was 21. Every time I refused she would be angry at me, but she knew I was doing it for her own good.