Chapter 1: My Life With Alien Grandma and My Attempt to Recover From Failure

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 277
Comments: 5

My Life With Alien Grandma and My Attempt to Recover From Failure

It's hot, very hot, but this is to be expected for an August afternoon in North Carolina.  Every time I step outside into the air it hits me like I have just entered the ninth layer of hell.  On days like this when there is no wind to stir the humidity I just want to forgo any plans to sit under my large walnut tree and write or do anything else, but I must yield from the laziness and beat the heat as Grandma and I are chore bound and, I must write something!

She's a petite woman, a tender 82 years of age with a troubling hip, and when she says "Jump!" I know better than to not ask "How high?"  Her name is Ruby but I like to refer to her as Alien Grandma.  Even at a young age when I use to come visit her with my twin brother and Mom her house was filled with old relics from days gone by.  For example, I think she's owned the same leather sofa for thirty years, possibly more.  It's still in perfect condition.  And then there are the rotary phones.  Now, back in the 1980's this wasn't such a strange thing to see, but presently, one still sits on a night stand in the corner of the hallway, still in working order, and still used.  There is also the microwave, one of the first types that rolled right off the assembly line, still working and still in perfect condition.  I can't leave out the percolator either.  What a way to make coffee in a day and age when everything is "smart" tech right from the washing machine to the refrigerator from the cell phone to the car.  My Grandma is one of those people who just has incredible luck (or skill) at maintaining things well beyond their shelf life.  About the one thing that is new her house is the flat screen LED television.  I guess some things finally do just break down beyond repair but one thing is for sure.  What they say is true - they don't make things like they use too. 

It was eight months ago I came to live with Alien Grandma.  At a time in my life when things should have already fallen into place, where a dream should have bloomed into career, I somehow got lost.  The map to Life has been turned upside down with North pointing South, and South pointing North.  The ink has run and the the direct path to happiness has been detoured around more road blocks and plentiful potholes than I care to count.  But this is Life and no path is direct and no dream is without nightmares.  In my time and despair my Grandma was there and so the journey to fulfillment began. 

It was a Saturday when I made the phone call.  She answered the phone sweetly and I almost broke down in tears, again.  Previously, I had been on the phone with my mother to run the plan by her and after several months  of parental therapy, Mom and I agreed that it was time to move on before she had to bury one of her sons.  For two years I lived under my father's roof, rent free, but struggling to pay bills.  The reason why is unimportant but for merit, and because I refuse to say bad things about my father, I wasn't happy there.  My creativity had taken a nose dive and there wasn't a single day I felt something other than depression.  I tried to be strong, as a very close friend told me I was, and smile through silent pain yet I would cry behind my closed door and fight a battle that no one really knew about.  And then finally, I had reached a breaking point because deep down I knew, the only person who could ever truly change me and comfort me was myself.  I am all that I will ever need.  But in order to make this change, I needed a new start.

My best friend Stan came to pick me up.  By the time he arrived I had already packed up everything that I ever would need.  My electronic piano, some of my favorite books, Bright Heart Raccoon, some cloths - both for work and play - and my self esteem.  Beaten, broken and what I thought was beyond repair, Stan drove me to my Grandma's where she waited at the door with open arms and a very open mind. 

The plan was to only stay for a few months until I could afford an apartment walking distance from work.  Mom and Alien Grandma would have none of that.  They wanted me to get a car first.  I listened to their wise reason.  Mom felt that I needed to stay with Alien Grandma because at 82 years of age and with a hip starting to act up, she was worried about her falling.  Another selling point was, Alien Grandma was happy to have me.  About a year ago, Alien Grandma lost her boyfriend, her high school sweet heart.  The relationship didn't last to Graduation and so she married.  It was years after Troy's death she found JC, who never married and claimed that she was always his first love. Sappy, right?  Well, to hear her tell the story is far better than my short rendition.  Perhaps one day I'll give it more detail.  Any who, back to my story - in short, this was the perfect living arrangement because everyone would win. 

Still, I'm headstrong and when I form a plan, I try my best to stick to it.  In the end, I caved because I knew Mom and Alien Grandma was right.  She needed help with chores around the house and I'm young.  Mom wanted someone to keep an eye on her and I worked an early shift Monday through Friday that allowed me to do so.  It was agreeded that Alien Grandma would take me to work and pick me up until I could afford a down payment on a car.  I would also be living under her roof rent free, however, Mom suggested that I help pay for food, help maintain the lawn, and do any handy jobs around the house.  (Funny thing is, I'm about as handy as a handy man with no hands!  I know a hammer is used for cutting things, and a saw is used for nailing things - okay, it's not that bad, but still...)  Even though the yard is big, I'm rather thankful Alien Grandma has modern day riding lawn mower - now if they can just come out with a "smart" version of it so I can hit a button, sit back and drink lemonade on these hot and hell days. 

During these eight months, I have saved up enough money for a down payment on a car (two months into personal freedom) and my creativity has improved ten fold.  All it took was a little courage, some faith, a little bit of luck, and a Grandma who loves her grandson.  I have a new lease on Life.  I appreciate the Carolina Blue sky, despite the humidity - what I wouldn't do for one of these summer thunderstorms right now.  I am inspired by the big things that explode with possibilities all around me and the little things that go unnoticed except for when they create at tiny ripple in the Universe that turns out to be the biggest inspiration of all.  I am thankful for my friends, my co-workers and their words of wisdom.  I'm so glad I didn't give up, that I didn't cave into pressure of being a failure because honestly, it's when we fail we learn the most about ourselves.  It is when we see our true strength, our incredible possibility to be something better for ourselves, for the people we love, for our community and for the stranger who may need just a little help. 

Before I end this little journey I want to leave you with a little quote, parts of which I used in this story:  "Sometimes, the strongest among us are the ones who smile through the silent pain, cry behind closed doors, and fight the battles that no one knows about.  The only person who could ever truly change you and comfort you is yourself.  You are all you will ever need."  Taylor Ellse Seabolt. 

Courage.  Faith.  Luck.  And Love. 

Gus Sellars. 

Submitted: August 12, 2013

© Copyright 2020 Gus Sellars. All rights reserved.


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Add Your Comments:



Thank you for sharing this Gus! I don't know what more to say, besides that you seem to have great people around you. I can't say been there done that, because I haven't, but we fight our own fights every day. Depression is a fucking bitch, but it seems like that's the dark side of creativity somehow. You told this story very beautifully!

Mon, August 12th, 2013 9:18pm


Thanks for reading and commenting Amy. I plan to add more as I learn more. About alien grandma and life. I hope the lame dry humor helped.

Mon, August 12th, 2013 2:24pm


This is honestly the most upbeat and motivational piece I have read in a long, long time. Thank you so much for suggesting this to me. It was beautifully written and so many things about it made me smile. Having dealt with depression in my life, I found myself able to relate with this young man. But this was encouraging and I love how it showed that there is a bright spot at the end of a rough, long tunnel. Great work! I look forward to reading more of your work.

Wed, August 14th, 2013 3:19am


Thanks for reading and commenting. You made my day! The young man in the story is me. This isn't really a novel, just a collection of memoirs and stories that I work on when my brain doesn't want to work on the posted novel: revolution, the fifth dawn. I have lazy days. So lazy.

Wed, August 14th, 2013 12:31pm


Your conclusion really spoke to me, I feel as if this piece gave me strength I did not know I had. I find it more then coincidence that you talked about your grandmother as if you're describing my own. Ever since I finally visited my grandmother and dad (which I didn't see for a year) I brought nothing but regret home. You see, my grandmother has severe memory problems and she literally forgotten that I existed.

...The reason why I didn't visit my dad and grandma was because I was scared that she did forget about me. And since she only knows one language (which I don't understand how to speak) I can't communicated with her unless with a translator (via my dad.) So I sit there in silence, cursing myself for being so faulty.

I have to admit this piece was thought provoking and I am glad to hear your success over your troubles. This really gave me inspiration and a breath of fresh air. So thank you Gus.
PS: I really loved the witty commentary and it made the writing ever more enjoyable to read.

Fri, August 16th, 2013 8:14am


Awesome Craig! I am glad this piece gave you some strength. That is a very intense situation. My grandma is getting to the point where memory is starting to go. I can see it because everyday she ask what time I get off work. And everyday, it's the same time (usually). I am elated that if gave you some inspiration and glad you liked the dry humor. Sometimes, I have to take a break away from the fantasy world of writing and just get something out that means a little more to me on a personal level. I hope all is well, sir.!

Fri, August 16th, 2013 3:28am


This is a very touching and personal slice of life. Very well written. I like your story telling style. It makes me want to root for you. Well done!

Sun, September 29th, 2013 5:04pm


My goodness! Thank you for quoting me at the end of this piece. I loved it, and I loved how you closed it. Magnificent!

Sat, February 1st, 2014 3:44pm