Friday, January 14, 2011
Images of My Dead Grandmother
I never really quite knew her, but have a vague recollection of her warmth toward me. Yet I feel like she has been one of the most influential people in my life. She died when I was a three. She spent her most of her life living on the fringe of desperation, an outcast far ahead of her time, destroyed by the culture that surrounded her. She grew up in an ultra Christian house, where her cotton farm foreman father, (who shot a black man for crossing their front porch on night), molested and repeatedly raped her while her mother looked the other way and condemned her to hell. He was a very hard man and she married young to my grandfather to escape him. I believe this was the only true love and happiness she experienced in her life, she become the quintessential housewife and had finally settled into a life of “normalcy”. He was killed on his way back from World War II in a freak car accident where he was going to tell her he had met some one else and wanted a divorce, something that would haunt her the rest of her life. She spent years at the bottom of a barrel, drinking, working as a prostitute, and sleeping her way from man to man. Always running, dragging her children with her, always desperate. She had two children she tired to kill several times in fits of drunkenness, by pushing them out of windows and leaving them abandoned with strangers most of the time. She was in and out of the state mental hospitals. Finally she was pulling her life back together, sobered up, met a man she married and began to settle down. I have been told I was her greatest joy. But something happened one night that drove her to the ultimate act of desperation as she took a pistol and shot herself in the stomach. She died on the way to the hospital. I often try to imagine what was going through her head that one night.
I had seen this laundromat years ago in Butte and every time I passed these windows I would see my dead grandmother hanging out in there. I have been trying to come up with a way to capture the essence of who she was and what she felt. With the help of my friend Rus Buyok I have finally been able to realize, my own feelings, anxieties, and emotions and in a way represent what she too must have gone through.
"She was happy, and perfectly in line with the tradition of those women they used to call "ruined," "fallen," feckless, bitches in heat, ravished dolls, sweet sluts, instant princesses, hot numbers, great lays, succulent morsels, everybody's darlings . . . "
— Jean Genet (Querelle)
VIEW FULL IMAGE TOP: RUS DRAG BUTTE #7