Charlie Sheen and My Grandmother

Dear, dear Charlie Sheen.  Watching you implode before the public eye like a supernova hellbent on destroying itself and anything in its path has been riveting, I admit. To be sure, I don’t think I can keep track of the various news stories that have splashed across the screen in the past few weeks. Something about prostitutes, drugs, alcohol, allegedly threatening violence to various ex-wives, having your children removed from your care, stopping production of your sitcom… all you’re missing is a link somehow to the middle east and you’ll hit some sort of perfect storm of newsworthiness.

And your words,  your nonsensical, inflammatory language. It has been captured by numerous television and radio outlets, all falling over themselves to have you on in order to boost their ratings. People love to watch a car crash, and you, my friend, are an explosion tantamount to a fiery Indy 500 moment coupled with an atomic bomb. Several web developers have created sites which do different things with your random quotables, all in the name of grabbing their 15 minutes on your back.
It all has made me think of my grandmother.

I never really knew my grandmother, you should understand; she died when I was 11. My direct memories of her involved brief Sunday night phone calls where we talked about Lawrence Welk, trips to Nathan’s for hotdog lunches, and a painting of a rose she made for me which I treasure to this day. I never went inside her Long Island apartment; it was part of a residence filled with the newly-liberated, completely unsupported mentally ill of 1970s New York, intermingled with a lot of elderly people. It was far too scary a place for me, a little girl. I often wonder what it must have been like for her.

My grandmother was, in the parlance of the day, manic-depressive. She endured shock treatments throughout her life as well as many other treatments probably unfathomable to people nowadays. There were points in my father’s and my aunt’s lives where they were sent off to live with aunts and cousins while my grandmother was getting help. How frightened she must have been, and what was worse — the illness or the cure? Back then, mental illness was not only unacceptable, it was stigmatized. You were somehow a defective specimen of humanity. Dignity never entered into the picture.

But my gram attempted a life of dignity in between these times. It couldn’t have been easy, losing her husband pretty early on in all of this. And sure, there was the day when she went out and, apropos of nothing, put money down on a house.  I don’t ever remember her babysitting my brothers and me the way my other grandparents did. My gram was not a regular fixture physically near me; she was like a star I wished upon, but not for myself: for her.

And as I watch Charlie Sheen catastrophically exploding through the cosmos, I’m wishing on him. I’m hoping someone out there will stop him on this path toward self-destruction.  I pray that someone is helping him to harness that light for something better, stronger, and more positive for himself and for his family.

Blazes are not always glorious in my book.

Originally published at Smartly.Com

2 thoughts on “Charlie Sheen and My Grandmother

  1. indeed. apparently, today he announced he is joining sean penn to bring attention to haiti. i’m not sure whether to applaud him for taking this monumental media attention and focusing it on a place in need of serious humanitarian aid, or whether i should be concerned that the two of them together might not be the model pair. but what do i know?

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