"They took the nails out of my shoes!"
I laugh and make fun of that statement now, but as an 8 year-old kid that's a pretty scary thing to hear your Grandmother say. It was one of the few times I actually saw my Grandmother (maternal) in one of her paranoid schizophrenic states. My parents did a good job of shielding me from the truth and full extent of her problems. As an older teen I learned that she was diagnosed as having Schizophrenia and was hospitalized in and out over the years since she was a young adult. My mother was often cared for by her aunt (since my grandfather passed away when she was a girl) and I think she came to dislike her mother as an adult. I can't blame her for feeling abandoned and resentful for losing both parents through death and mental illness. My father told me that one of the reasons we moved to Richboro was that it was out of range of SEPTA's transportation system. Of course, it didn't help that my cranky great aunt Ruby was always going on about how her problems weren't real. She would cromudgeonly go on and on about how her younger half-sister was spoiled and always got her way and she was just trying to get attention like she always had before. I think after I crapped out of college from my own mental issues, my mother started to understand her own mother and sympathized more.
My grandmother died when I was in college and I just started to develop my own mental problems with bipolarism. Never having known her all that well, her death didn't affect me that much. I do wish I had the foresight to ask my mother questions about her behaviors and problems before she died herself in 1995. One of the things I learned over the years is that bipolar disorder is often misdiagnosed as schizophrenia or has schizophrenic associative qualities. So, while I often point out that my father demonstrates manic tendencies, I really should be delving more into my mother's family tree for my bipolar hereitage.
But alas, I really have no contacts left. My mother and great aunt are gone and I haven't seen my uncle Ed since my mother's funeral. He's not the type of person who I think would open up much about her anyways, so I don't really wish to seek the guy out and bother him with unpleasant memories just so I could feel better about myself.
That's the thing about roots- they're twisty and gnarly and don't look pretty, but without them you wouldn't be grounded.
You see what I just did there? I made a nifty keen metaphor! Damn, I'm a good writer sometimes!