Maybe I hated her, too

I was almost 18 when I knew for sure that my Bubbie hated me.

I was visiting her on a sunny Saturday at the end of summer, days before I started college. Earlier we had gone shopping for dorm room supplies: pillows, a trash can, a shower caddy, that sort of thing. The purchases sat by her door still in their bags.

We had just returned from lunch and my mom and my aunt were talking quietly in the kitchen.

“Come with me,” Bubbie said. “I have something to show you.”

“Okay,” I said and followed her as she shuffled into her bedroom. The bedspread laid smoothly over the bed, her knitted afghan over top. Her rocker sat in one corner. Sun streamed through the lace curtains.

“Sit here,” she said, motioning towards the bench at her vanity table.

I did. She opened her jewelry box sitting atop her vanity, her hands shaking slightly. “Look at these,” she said, lifting out a pair of gold earrings.

“They’re pretty,” I said. Bubbie loved jewelry almost more than she loved shopping. Ever since my grandfather died in World War II, she had saved carefully to buy herself rings, necklaces, earrings. At 82, her large collection was her pride.

I ran my fingers across the rows of pretty necklaces. I loved when Bubbie showed me her things like this; sneaking off felt secret and special.

“I like this one,” I said, lifting a large ring with a swirling pattern of diamonds out of the box. I smiled and looked up at Bubbie, expecting her agreement.

No. Suddenly something was wrong. Her face had turned stony.

“Don’t touch that,” she ordered. “That one belongs to your sister when I’m gone.”

Her words froze me. The ring dropped back into the jewelry box. For a long minute I tried to make sense of Bubbie’s words.

I didn’t want Bubbie to be gone. I never wanted any of her jewelry if it meant that she was dead. I hadn’t asked for the ring, I hadn’t even wanted it. But even if I had, why would she choose to reward my sister over me? Why reward a no-good drug addict who deserted her family and not me? I had always worked hard and received a scholarship to college. I visited her each Saturday, not Kim. I always did the right thing, unlike Kim. I loved my Bubbie.

All of a sudden, a blinding rage came over me. I jumped up, pushed over the bench, and ran out of the room. I ran to the front door and grabbed my new pillow and a few other shopping bags and slammed the front door behind me. I could hear my mom calling me from the kitchen, but I ignored her. I ran to the bus stop and sat, clutching my pillow, crying.

A few minutes later, my mom arrived. As we waited for the approaching bus, she told me, “Whatever you just did, Bubbie will never forgive you for it.” I looked at her in disbelief.

You know what? My mom was right. I apologized many times, but my Bubbie never did forgive me. You’d be surprised how old she was when she died.

20 thoughts on “Maybe I hated her, too

  1. I can so relate to this. Not with my own Bubbe because she was in a nursing home by the time I came along, but actually the Bubbe of a nebbish guy I dated for a time. Over a misunderstanding that wasn’t even to do with me, she hated me! It would eventually lead to the demise of that relationship. Nevertheless, I look back now and thank my lucky stars that she hated me so! haha! Or I might still be with that putz.
    Loved this…
    Screw Bubbe.

  2. Oh that’s heartbreaking 🙁 That kind of thing really stays, especially once it’s too late to rectify.

    I’m lucky never to have had that, but both my grandmothers were struck with Alzheimers. One died of it, the other doesn’t really know who I am any more. I don’t think they’d know me to pass anything on to…

  3. Really good closing sentence. What a sad thing. I have an aunt that is really into jewelry and your story reminded me of her. She would show me her jewelry and then tell me it was all going to my sister. But I can imagine the pain goes way deeper when it’s a grandparent.

  4. Oh I’m so sorry! I think she knew Kim needed it more than you did. BUT that’s very sad that she didn’t forgive you, when you spent so much time, loved her so much. I’m sorry.

  5. Oh, no! I’m so sad for you. Families/people don’t makes sense sometimes. Holding a grudge is one of the most painful experiences in the world. From both side?

  6. oh this is too sad. 🙁 I don’t understand how and why some people can hold grudges for SO long. what is the effing point?!? i’m so sorry this happened.

  7. That was a crappy thing for Bubbie to say to you. You weren’t asking for the ring, you were just admiring it. She could have just agreed with you and that would have been that. And then to “never forgive you” because SHE said something to upset you, that was just beyond the pale.

    My mother’s family were vultures and picked over all my grandmother’s stuff before she even died. If they could have carried off the farm, they would have. We don’t talk much.

  8. I’m curious what your sister did with the ring. i’m sorry for your loss. Famlies can get funny when is comes to passing things on to people.

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