Codependent Love Story

Uploaded 9/1/2023, approx. 9 minute read

The codependent's love is an admixture of the narcissist's shared fantasy and the borderline's emotional dysregulation.

Here's another autobiographical story about my maternal grandfather and my maternal grandmother, the story of a codependent's love.

My grandfather, cradling an infant's crib, departed. Navigating left and right, far along the pavement, he reached a concrete round post.

There he rested, sheltered from the humid sun by peeling posters for Lacrimo's Turkish films. He pushed the crib outside the penumbral circle and waited.

Curious folks besieged the old man and his orphaned frame and then proceeded to buy from him the salted seeds and sweets that he lay meticulously organized inside the crib.

My grandfather smiled at them through sea-blue eyes as he wrapped the purchased sweetmeats in rustling brown paper bags.

My embarrassed uncles built for him a creaking wooden cart from the remaining construction materials. They painted it green and mounted it on a large, thin tire with borrowed from an ancient tron. They attached to it a partitioned tabletop confiscated from the green grocer down the lane.

Every morning, forehead wrinkled, my grandfather would fill the wooden compartments with various snacks and trinkets. It pains to separate them neatly.

There were black sunflower seeds, white pumpkin seeds, the salted and the sweet, tiny plastic toys bursting with candies, whistles, rattles.

And still, my grandfather never gave up his crib, installing the crib on top of his squeaking vehicle and filling it to his tattered brim with a rainbow of offerings.

At night, my grandfather stowed it under the cart, locking it behind its two crumbling doors among the unsold merchandise. With sunrise, my grandfather would exit the house and head towards the miniature plot of garden adjoining it. He would cross the patch, stepping carefully on a pebbled path in its midst.

Then, sighing but never stooping, my grandfather would drive his green trolley, tall and stout and handsome men, fair-skinned and sapphire-eyed. A movie star, they gasped behind his back.

Day in and day out, my grandfather impelled his rickety push-cart to his concrete post. There, dispensing to the children with a smile, all kinds of sweets, a permanence till dusk. With sunset, he gathered his few woods, bolted the fledgling flaps and pushed back home a few steps away.

When my grandfather grew old, he added to his burden a stool with an attached umbrella to shield him from the elements and a greenish nylon sheet to protect his wares.

My grandfather became a fixture in this town of my birth. His lime cart turned into a meeting spot.

By Pardo, we will meet by Pardo, they would say, secure in the knowledge that he would always be there, erect and gracious.

Like two forces of nature, my grandpa and the concrete post, older than the fading movie posters, watched the town transform, roads as faulted, children turned adults, bringing their offspring to buy from him a stick of bitter black chewing gum as they had done.

Owned by his cart, my grandfather beat the farewell and greater the newborn, himself aging and bending with the ears. Creases sprouted in his face around his dimming sides and in his white and delicate hands.

My grandfather had one love, my grandmother, a ravishing, proud, raven-haired woman.

A framed, retouched photo of her hung imposing on one of the walls. In it she stood defiant, leaning on a carved pillar in a faraway place.

This is how he must have seen her at first, a mysterious, sad-eyed disparity between dark and fair.

And thus he fell in love and made her his only world.

This woman sat by his side adjacent to his azure pushcart, day in and day out. She said nothing and he remained mute. They just stared with vacuous eyes, perhaps away, perhaps inside, perhaps back to previous abodes in bustling cities.

At first my grandmother seemed to like being his sidekick, confidently doling confectionary to toddlers whose mothers remained forever infants in her memory.

Intimately she laid a shriveled hand on his venous knee, leaving it there for a split, fluttering second, conveying warmth and then withdrawing it unobtrusively.

It was enough to restore him to his full stature, this Dutch.

But then the municipal workers came and pasted funeral announcements onto his concrete pole and the magic was all but gone.

My grandma withered, dilapidated by this onerous existence.

Evening time she would get up and carry her stool, a four clutched in two twiggy hands, tediously dragging her reluctant self from the long march home.

My grandfather observed her, his eyes a moist eroding guilt, his disintegrating pushcart, the reindrenched figure of his loved one, the whizzing torment of the desert winds, the sound of the crackling paper bags in her arthritic palms.

They all conspired to deny him his erstwhile memory of her.

Each morning my grandfather woke up to study this ageless image as he glided over her translucent skin, high arching cheeks and sleep fluttery eyelashes.

He fended off the intrusions of the world as he smoothed the covers and tucked her figure in.

Then he would get up and make her breakfast, arranging ceremoniously her medicines in multicolored plastic containers on the tray.

But my grandma rejected this sun-up plea.

She wouldn't go on living.

One silent morning she clung to her sheets and wouldn't rise and accompany him.

That day, gray and defeated, my grandpa plowed the pavement with his burrow, unfolded a worn deckchair and sank in, awaiting my grandmother's reappearance.

When she did not materialize, he left his posts much earlier than usual.

He emptied the compartments dutifully, packed the unsold goods in large canvas sacks, tidying them away behind the two bottom doors of his cart.

He then unfurled the polyester sheet above it and sailed home, shoving and cajoling his screeching and scraping workstation.

My grandma was in bed as he had left her and sconched in blankets, a suicidal tortoise glaring at the ceiling as it bled in aqueous abstracts.

My grandfather parked his rustling, rusting, faded wagon and climbed home.

His wife awoke with startled whimpers, tears streaming silently down her crevished face, tearing his heart with the iron grape of festering love.

He hugged her and showered her with panicky little kisses.

She froze and fortified her berth with pillows piled high, staring at him through narrow cracks of oozing sanity.

One day my grandpa, returning in the evening, left his cart outside uncharacteristically.

He entered and for a few minutes he and my grandmother just watched each other warily.

He extended a calloused hand and she dreamily stood up and escorted him to their porch, which overlooked the weed-grown garden.

My grandfather draped her shoulders with a knitted woolen shawl.

He tightened it and then her shivering hand in his, he set his love among some cushions he prepared.

She glanced aimlessly at a guava tree that shot among the trail of gravel stones.

My grandfather contemplated her a while and then with sudden resoluteness left.

Seconds later he reappeared among the shrubs, saluted her with a sledgehammer he held tenuously with both hands.

She strained her face attentive, consuming his image like a flower would the sun or the blind do the sounds?

Gasping and panting my grandpa heaved the pushcart to the center of the plot.

With repeated furious blows he dislocated its wheels and doors.

Reduced to splintered wood and twisted metal he cocooned it into nylon throw and left it devastated by the trees.

Looking beside they watched the setting sun defracted from the green-hued sculpture in the garden.

A smile budded in my grandma's honeyed eyes and spread into my grandfather's deep blue gaze.

The cart stood there for years disintegrating inexorably beneath its blackening shield.

Its wheels now rooted in the soil it sank into the mildewed ground.

Another peculiarly shaped sapling.

My grandpa never adjusted the synthetic shit that swathed it nor did he dig out the bargaining wheels.

My grandpa was visiting a pharmacy replenishing my grandmother's medications when my grandma died.

With the dignity of the indigent he never bargained, never raised his voice.

Packed in small white paper bags he rushed the doses to his wife limping and winded.

This time the house was shut at doors and windows.

My grandma wouldn't respond to his increasingly desperate entreaties.

He flung himself against the entrance and found her sprawled on the floor, her bloodied mouth jar.

As she fell she must have hit her head against the corner of a table.

She was baking my grandfather his favorite pastries.

My grandmother's eyes were shut.

My grandpa knew she had died.

He placed her remedies on the floor, floured an oil table and changed into his best attire, his best suit.

Kneeling beside her he gently wiped clean my grandma's hands and mouth and head and clothed her in her outdoors coat.

His business done he lay beside her and hugging her frail remains he shut his eyes.

My uncles and aunts found her lying like that, embraced.

My grandparents tiny home was government property and was reclaimed.

The sanitary engineers revolted, removed from the garden, the warm infested rotting relic and the partridge sheet concealing it.

The next day it was hauled by sturdy garbage collectors into a truck and with assorted other junk incinerated.

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