This post contains my morbid, twisted thoughts about my grandmother, the people who died because of her, and whether or not she is a serial killer.
My grandmother is alive. I write about her in the past tense, because she’s been dead to me since 2009. She’s also had advanced Alzheimer’s and been in care homes the whole time I’ve been writing about her, and about cult leaders in general. She lives nearby; I could visit her. But I don’t trust myself not to hurl invective at the shrunken confused person she now is.
You see, my grandmother is a killer.
I don’t know how many my grandma killed or caused to die early in all, but my mother and I can account for at least twelve. Charles Manson “only” led to the murders of nine people. His crimes were clear, premeditated murders, intended to provoke race war and further bloodshed. He meant for them to die. My grandmother’s killings weren’t nearly so simple to define.
She attended nursing school at the respected private college University of Tampa. She was enrolled early at sixteen, a naturally bright and gifted student who had always been undersized. “Bitsy” was her nickname. She liked to tell a story of her going to the doctor as a little girl. He asked “When will you be three?” And she shot back, “I’m five and very precocious.”
I think she liked the positive attention from her parents and professors for her grades, and she saw herself as a kind of cute mascot for the older girls in the program. Once when I was a teenager and, in retrospect, her Alzheimer’s symptoms had started, she fearfully confessed to me about the night she and her dorm mates snuck into a medical supply cabinet to huff ether. I was too stunned to respond and after a minute her eyes slid back to FOX News.
I don’t know the exact chain of events that led my Floridian grandma and Midwestern grandpa to meet, but they did. He was only one of many suitors, and she bragged she’d been proposed to “eleven and a half times.” The half was a guy she couldn’t tell if he was serious. During my grandparents’ courtship they’d go out dancing, and he’d sing along like the guys in the movie, only off key.
(To be continued at a later date.)