Back to Work, Grandma, and Stupid Drunks

Baku Travel Blog

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I have finally returned to the ever-glamorous world of English teaching after having my first summer off in over 4 years.  I taught for 4 years at year round schools in Vegas and I did not get that much time off teaching Special Ed.  Too bad this summer was not the happiest as I was dealing with my father's death in late June and then suffered from a month long bout of vertigo in August.  I am finally feeling better although my equilibrium is still a little shaky.

This year I will be teaching English to future diplomats and assisting English teachers throughout Azerbaijan.  It is a really cool gig.  I teach in the Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  After teaching in Nakhchivan, where my classroom had no electrical plug, broken desks, no air conditioning and a very poor heating system (a pain when it hits -40 in the winter), I feel like I am living in the lap of luxury with the Ministry.  Besides teaching English, I am also teaching an American Lit course.  It is nice to get into some authors that I love like Selby and Bukowski, although I am concerned about students freaking out with Selby's penance for writing about the dregs of society and Bukowski's love for booze and womanizing.  I am sure that they will eventually get over it.  I would love to teach a film class, but my only problem is a general distain for most modern American cinema.  I cannot win them all.

I received some sad news this week.  My maternal grandmother passed away.  Out of all of my grandparents, she was the only one who really cared about what I was doing and who I was.  But considering that, I am thankful I had at least one who did care.  That is more than many people have.  She lived for 95 years and was tougher than nails.  She lived on her own up to her death, granted she received assistance in her independent living from her family in her final years.  Still, she was incredibly independent for anyone dubbed elderly.   
    Grandma was both fiery and feisty.  She took garbage from no one and would let anyone know how she felt.  In the modern world where too many seem more concerned with being liked or sucking-up, it was nice to know someone who was honest to her bone.  It was this same “take no garbage from no one” attitude that led her to divorcing her husband/my grandfather.  I do not remember him, but I know from stories from my mother he was a womanizer.  It was virtually unheard of for a woman from her generation to file for divorce, but expectations be damned.  I always respected her for that.
    I think that the greatest burden for growing so old is seeing people, who you love and expect to outlive you, die.  She witnessed children, grandchildren, friends and in-laws laid to rest.    The feelings of guilt of seeing those much younger than you perish must have tremendous.  In all honesty, I think she was tired of living and chose her time to die.  I would never expect anything less.
    Still, I will miss the long talks we always had when I was visiting home.   She was that one person who always supported my dreams.  When I decided to leave the US, she told me that she was not so old she would join me.  It would have been awesome to see Grandma shuffle around the streets of Baku.  
    My grandmother was that one person in my family with whom I could identify.  I saw her within her my own rebellious and adventurous spirit and I think she saw in me the same.  She was also the one who displayed the photos I have taken from my journeys on her wall along with the postcards sent from those travels.  She continued to make me the topic of discussion even though I was always a half of a world away from her.
    This has proven to be the hardest thing about living overseas.  In the past four months my father and my grandmother have passed away and my feelings for my family wants to be home to pay my final respects.  Still, I made it home to see my father alive for one last time in June and while most of my time back home was spent with him in the hospital and helping around my parents’ farm, it did give me one last time to talk to my grandmother.  Instead of trying to capture a memory from long ago, I can still remember our last conversation and seeing her one last time.
    When I think that I should fly home for the funeral, I can hear her tell me in her Midwestern draw, “Now, Ronnie, you keep doing what you are doing.  We will all be fine here.”

We all mourn in our own ways.  I decided to go to near-by bar for a drink in memory of her.  Grandma enjoyed an occasional shot of Jack in her younger days.  Unfortunately, there was this one drunk guy at the other end of the bar.  In his inebriated state he decided that he must not have liked the way I looked, because he started screaming at me.  I am a former bouncer and have learned it is best to defuse the conflict before it gets out of hand.  I merely put up my hands and said “No problems from me.”  My plan was to offer him a drink if he should decide to approach me.  As he was getting up from his stool to what I believed was to confront me, he bumped into another guy and a shoving match ensued.  The really drunk guy got tossed.  Maybe it was some sort of warped divine intervention.  Nevertheless, it reminded me the reason why I quit working in bars, it was all of the idiot drunks.

IceTea says:
I too feel sorry. This story really moves me... It's so hard to let go of the people that we love sometimes. A few years ago I lost my grandfather in Vietnam. Everytime I am in Vietnam now and get to see my grandmother, I cherish every second that I spend with her. And I keep telling her how much I love her and leaving for Germany leaves that fear in my stomach that this could have been the last time.
We can go wherever we want but our heart stands still where it wants to.
U pictured ur granny so wonderful I bet she was matchless and I bet she wants u to keep on going whenever it's hard... just as my granny :)

If we ever meet we will toast on our Grannys! :D
Posted on: Apr 09, 2008
Marius1981 says:
your grandma was indeed a great person... my concoleances!
Posted on: Apr 09, 2008
mellemel8 says:
ronnie, my deepest condolences to you. your grandma sounds like my grandma. touch as nails. keep your chin up. i will be thinking of you.
Posted on: Sep 21, 2007
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