My sister Amy asked me to post some fond memories of my Grandmother Starr the other day on Facebook. At the time I couldn’t recall any pleasant memories as I have a particularly unpleasant one that happened during one of our last communications.
My Grandmother is old, but not dying to the best of my knowledge, but there was a recent scare and everyone got all sentimental. Well, I’ve kind of distanced myself, so I didn’t… I’m just mental everyday. She must be in her late 80s or early 90s at this point and I haven’t seen her since my mother died, which I think was in 2004, but I can’t recall, at my Mother’s funeral and Grandmother didn’t even know who I was, so I can’t imagine that she’d remember me today either.
I was told that my Grandmother provided food and shelter to my mother, my sister (Dawn) and I when I was a newborn – as my father was always drunk (or so they say). She often provided food for my family in later years when my mother was always drunk.
When Dawn and I were fairly young we would join our Grandmother at Nuclear Protest rallies where she would take up her guitar on the large stage and sing protest songs, songs that she had written and speak out against nuclear power. Dawn and I would sing together songs that were familiar to us (Barbara Mandrell, Oak Ridge Boys, Alabama… mostly country stuff) on the stage to much fanfare while Grandmother played the guitar. It could have launched our careers and turned us into 1980s version of Justin Beiber, but alas – I was a big old drama queen and would throw fits if Dawn started the song on the wrong beat or sounded off key… yes, on stage. Me? I was always on. 😉
The family curse (that when you become a teenager you can’t live with Mom anymore) sent me to live with Grandmother. I was horrible to her, often stealing money from her purse, cutting the screen windows to use the screen as a filter for bongs, burned bibles (one I understand was a Family Bible – whatever that means) and just being a general shit head. She tolerated a lot of shit from me and my friends while I lived there, she should get recognition for that if nothing else.
I will always remember her bringing music into my world, exposing me to the Dulcimer, the Guitar, the Piano. She’s the one that got me writing, she kept a diary and wrote her own songs and stories. She really was/is something special.
In 1998, when I came out of the closet after I had moved to Washington, DC, I received a letter from her basically damning me for my “choice” to be gay. That’s the most current memory I have of her and it’s not a pleasant one. Since that letter I’ve had very little to do with her or her other children – truly I’m probably better off.
I hope that in this life those who got to know her, got to know the parts of her that inspired, taught and sang to me and not the parts that led her to condemn me to hell.