Monday, September 1, 2008

Catholic Guilt

I was raised Catholic. Strict, old school, Gregorian Chant Catholic. I went to church every Sunday, I went through confirmation when I was 15...I was even in the choir. My mom is Catholic, my dad prays to the football gods. When I went away to college I went to church...once. They wore SHORTS to church, and t-shirts and it was totally casual!! I couldn't believe it. So, I quit going. Then I started researching (which was just talking to other people) and looked into theology. At that point I declared my independence from any religion. Although, I hate to say, the Catholic guilt stuck with me.

After school was over I moved to Oregon with my then boyfriend (who turned into my husband many years later) where I lived in sin. The place where I worked was a furniture rental company. I got the job by talking about the weather...I'm not even kidding. However it was an office with 11 people total, 6 of which were in the warehouse and delivered the furniture. We were a close knit group and one of the ladies was really into astrology. I've always liked the concept, but that is when I really got into it. From there I explored Tarot, numerology, palmistry and now the cards of destiny. Even with all of this knowledge I still held on to that guilt.

My mother still uses it. I don't think she knows that she gives guilt, it's second nature to her. It is just the way she speaks, acts, etc...

Anyway, on my actual birthday (that would have been the 28th in case you missed it! HAHA) my parents called me, as they always do. Trainer and I were on our way to dinner so it was a short conversation. We were watching some live music down town so when my grandma called I didn't take it, I couldn't hear. I'd had a couple of beers and a shot so I decided to return her calls on the way home. My grandma is Mexican and speaks in broken English, that language barrier can be difficult, even more so when you're buzzed. This was our conversation:

Me: Hi Grandma!

Gma: Mija, I've been calling and calling.

Me: I know, we were out to dinner and now I'm calling you back!

Gma: Well Mija, Happy Birthday.

Me: Thank you! How are you??

Gma: Oh Mija, not good...not so

Me: Oh no! Is it your eyes?? (She's been having issues with her ears and eyes)

Gma: No,'s your Grandpa, he has the Cancer.

Now, I had JUST talked to my parents. However after hearing that news from Grandma and speaking to my Grandpa I called them back. My dad answered and I said "Guess who I just talked to?" He says, "Your Older Bro?" And I said, "No...Grandma." That was all it took. He said that he didn't want to ruin my birthday. Which is nice and it probably would have ruined my dinner. My Grandpa has Multiple Myeloma – cancer that develops from the plasma cells of the bone marrow. We don't know much at this point. Just that he has chemo every week and now they're testing him for Alzheimer's as well. Grandpa's birthday was on Monday and he just turned 91. I just hope that the treatment at this point isn't more painful than the actual cancer.

I called my parents today to get any kind of update. They don't know anything more than they did a couple of days ago, but once they get the prognosis my dad will let me know. Now...for the guilt part. I was talking to my mom and said, "Well, I don't know if I should come out or if I should wait." and she says:

"Well, it's a matter of conscious. It depends on if you want to see him alive or dead."

BAM! GUILT BOMB!! GUILT BOMB!! Who says that?

I wanted to say, "It's also a matter of finances!" Which would have been petty because really what is $350 to see your grandpa before he might pass on? Ugh, what to do. We have a trip planned to Portland at the end of the month, which we planned six months ago. Why can't I be rich or own my own plane? (If I had my own plane I suppose that I would be rich huh?)

Thank god that I'm not having kids. I can't pass on the guilt to my unborn children. Trainer is not affected by guilt (obviously...) so I can't use it on him. I try not to give guilt because I know how much it sucks. It really, really sucks.


Sexy Hippy (why not?!) said...

Dude, I totally know how that feels. Sometimes, I catch myself using "the guilt" to try to get my way and I cringe and backpedal as fast as I can. It's a horrible thing, guilt. Mi madre is the master guilt tripper - though not as overt as your mom. Anyway, I feel your pain.

As far as your grandfather goes, I'm sorry and hope he's not suffering and hope that YOU don't suffer from "the guilt" if you decide to not take the trip out there (which is totally okay and understandable, by the way - I, personally, wouldn't go because I'd like my last memory of him to be when he was healthy and more like the man you remember). You can tell tu madre that God says it's okay too. She told me to tell you that.

The Sports Mama said...

First, I am so sorry about your grandfather.

And I agree with Sexy Hippy.... it is absolutely ok to not go. Its not a matter of when you want to see him, but how you want to remember him. And... have you talked to him? Beginning stages of Alzheimers patients still recognize most people from their lives, but not always. I'd try a phone call. If he remembers you, and wants to see you .... well, maybe that's when the decision should be made.

I'm here if you need a "guilt release".

totegirl said...

Happy belated birthday! Gosh, what a freaking bomb you had dropped on you that day. Jeez, so sorry to hear it. I know you'll do the right thing. Thinking of you.

MizFit said...

and I though we, Jews, had the guilt market cornered :)

(and yes. Im so sorry about your grandfather as well)