The Commitment to Write I will not write about the forthcoming stages of this book's process and it is likely the full story will not be realized for many years, but the following is a short record of the process of beginning. This blog is my commitment.
My grandmother wants me to write about her life. Today, she is miles from me, a psyche patient in a small Ohio facility that is monitoring her around the clock. She is a paranoid schizophrenic who has been reasonably stable for many years and only recently has she begun to suffer what is often referred to under the diagnostic-umbrella of schizophrenia as “a mental break.” Currently, my grandmother is on suicide watch.
Although my grandmother’s life has been ravaged by such breaks and long period of publicly-suppressed paranoia that she would often only share with those closest to her, her life has also been laced with magic. Her story is one that I am honored to share. There will be obstacles, and due to our small and largely scattered family, it will be a project requiring a lot of difficult research. Moreover, I cannot fully explore my grandmother’s life without including our own, often tumultuous, relationship, which I begin to introduce in Musical Chairs, my own story. I guess what I’m saying is, this will not be easy.
The delusions that have plagued my grandmother throughout her life will be mine now, too, to explore and record—honestly, this is a project that scares me. However, after speaking with my grandmother daily over the course of her recent break, I am beginning to realize what I’ve always suspected, that her illness has colored many of the most remarkable and mysterious strokes that have painted her life’s portrait.
Today, Grandma is sick. She is grateful that I call, and each day she tells me this. But her illness is also wearing her down, and she can never talk long. When she told me she wanted me to write about her life, I asked her to begin a journal, to take notes about memories as they arrive. I will be visiting her soon, and I told her that the more she can capture, the easier it will be for me to interview her when I arrive. She tells me that her memories won’t leave.
“These memories are strong, Sweet, they’re tumbling in by the truckloads, and everything seems clearer than yesterday. That’s why I need you to do this.” Her voice got small after this encouraging bit of news. “But, Jen, I can’t write anymore. I’m too weak.”
The last time I saw my grandmother, she was the picture of health. I told her not to worry about writing. That was my job anyway. I said we’d figure it out. And we will.
Causes Jennifer Knox Supports
Families United for Children's Mental Health