Getting older means that those you know and grew up with will pass away. I dread the day that my parents are at that point, I know I will feel lost and sort of empty. The first ones to leave us are our grandparents. I’ve known people that are closer to their grandparents than their actual parents. Those that chose to look for advice from their grandparents. I never really had that…
My favorite grandparent wasn’t blood related. My grandmother Rudy was married to my grandfather twice; his second and fourth wife. She met me when I was born, and then met me again when I was about 17 years old. She was an artist, a very good one. She was so excited to meet me and my brothers many years later. She would set up tables and art projects for us to do. We loved her so much. She was a friendly bubbly red headed woman.She was always laughing and happy. Unfortunately, we lost her two years ago. She genuinely cared for my grandfather and found compassion in the way he was. I condole her as he was a hard man to love.
He laughed and smiled a lot also, but that was mostly because he was being sarcastic. He actually wasn’t that nice of a man. Most of his life, he found ways to get over on people, use them and rip them off on money. Even ripping off his own family, including my dad. He was a money hungry man, and got whatever he wanted. He used to go on luxurious trips to Aruba, gamble thousands of dollars on horse races and have the large houses. He was also a pathological liar. I think he truly believed in his lies. His most favorite story to tell was how he owned a karate shop back in 1976. He claimed that Elvis Presley used to come in and do karate with him. However doing the math, Elvis would of been 41 and he was approximately 350 lbs, and he died the very next year from cardiac arrhythmia which is from obesity, drug dependency and a weak heart. I doubt Elvis was roundhouse kicking with my grandfather.
My biological grandmother – my dad’s mom – has lived with my father ever since I could remember. My dad built our home and along with it, he built my grandmother her own side of the house; having her own type of apartment. She has own living room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, utility room and even her own little porch. Even though, she is biologically the closest grandparent that I have, we’re not that close either. We’ve had interesting conversations about my family’s history – which I love, drank tea together, she helped take care of me when I broke my ankle and she used to bake the best homemade gingerbread cookies, yet it still isn’t the relationship that I hoped for and that a lot of people have with their grandmother. At times, she was impatient, sometimes she wanted to be alone, most of the time she cared for her dogs over family and I watched too many times of her and my dad’s altercations. Nowadays, whenever I go to my dads, I don’t always visit her, but when I do, I always give her a hug. Regardless, I do love her. She is the best grandparent I have.
My mother’s side? I barely know them. My mom doesn’t really know her father, so I’ll never meet my biological grandfather. I have a step-grandfather, but I don’t remember him. What I do know of him, evidently I’m not missing out on much. I may have met him 1-2 times when I was a little girl. My grandmother used to be my favorite grandparent.She lived further away, but when she came to visit, she always had gifts and cheesecake for me and my brothers. In fact, we used to call her Teddy Gram Grandmom, because she always brought us boxes of Teddy Grams in every flavor. We always loved her visits. She was a little batty though. I’ll never forget how she ruined my 9th birthday. She created this altercation with my mom and dad. They made her leave. To this day, nobody knows what she was really mad about and what sparked the argument. What I do know is that it had something to do with my oldest brother not being treated fairly, but her facts that she threw out had made no sense at all.
Truth was, my brother was treated differently. He is mentally challenged and my parents didn’t know how to raise him correctly. The details are honestly too hard to type, there is too much to entail about that story. So, there I was at 19 years old, my grandmother yelling at me over the phone about how I never did anything to help my brother, about how I was going to hell, how I needed Jesus Christ in my life and how I let everything bad happen to my brother. This happened 3 days before Christmas. She ruined yet another holiday…but most importantly, she embedded that thought in my mind – not about Jesus, I celebrated Christmas – but about me not helping my brother. I was old enough to speak my mind and say, “Hey, you shouldn’t do that!”, but I didn’t have solutions, I wasn’t brave enough to stand up for him and I was only the youngest child. That fight made me cry for days and that guilt ruined me for years, and it was years that I stopped talking to my grandmother. This happened back in 2005. We reunited once in 2010, and that was that. It was short, simple and honestly neither of us had anything to say. We just didn’t know each other anymore. I haven’t talked to her since. I still don’t talk to her, and probably never will again. My mom always tries to get me to talk to her again. She mentions how her health isn’t the greatest, yet sadly I just can’t put it past me…
It shames me that I never really developed such relationships with my grandparents. I envy those who say that they have such special bonds with their grandparents. I desire those old war stories that your grandfather is supposed to pass down to you. I admire those that have grandmother’s old secret recipes handed down to them. Those who watch their grandparents live, love and grow old together as a dedicated couple to inspire their kin to follow in their footsteps. I have none of that. I lost the bond of my maternal grandmother years ago. All of my grandparents were divorced. My maternal grandmother re-married. My paternal grandmother never dated or re-married after my grandfather. I always found that to be sad, that she never tried again, but I guess she was content. She often liked being alone anyways. My grandfather was the opposite, he was married four times. He hated being alone. He often would make up excuses for family to visit. One year for Thanksgiving, he invited half of the family to come at 4:00 and the other half to come at 1:00. What we didn’t realize, was for those who came at 1:00, we were only there to entertain him until everybody else got there for dinnertime. I will say, he liked to cook, tried to feed everyone persistently and would talk about random things. The past couple years is the only times that I’ve even heard about him being in the Navy and it wasn’t about what he did during his service, but how he won lots of money gambling in poker.
The stories I long to hear that could build a connecting relationship with my grandfather are non-existent, nobody has anything great to say about him. The only stories of my grandfather are how he was a scheming racist dealer who owned several businesses that screwed many people over and was an abusive mean father. He once owned a car dealership – one of many businesses of his. There’s one story that my father always likes to tell about how a man came in and took one of the cars down the road for a test drive. When the man returned, he was missing a shoe. The man explained that he lost his shoe down the road when the plywood under the carpet fell throw the hole that it was covering. Sadly, this was one of many stories, and that all of the cars were in bad shape and covered up like this. I believe he exampled the definition of “lemon” well. In fact, my dad worked for my grandfather for a while. My grandfather fired my dad when he over heard a man asking my dad, “What’s the best car on the lot?” and my dad’s response was, “The car you drove in on.”. The stories are endless. They are sadly hilarious, because they are merely unbelievable. Who would think that my grandfather is still being sued for the many homes that he rented that had lead paint windows. My grandfather back in the day being arrested for popping through a woman tenant’s bathroom window while demanding she pay for her late rent payment while she’s sitting on the hopper. Or that my grandfather was a womanizer, and always bought cheap jewelry to pass off as expensive in a way for a bribe of some sorts. These are the stories that will be left with me.
Now, my grandparents will be leaving me soon. My grandmother is facing the oppurtunity to live the rest of her life in FL with my Uncle. So, she took it. I don’t blame her. However it sure feels strange that this woman who lived next to my dad ever since I was little will be gone. I will probably never see her again. I stopped by the other day as she was packing and she showed me pictures of her new home. She also showed me the things that I’ll be inheriting when she passes and explaining to me that she is giving them to me now. It is such a weird feeling. It feels wrong to take something like that before her time, almost unnatural. Like the breaking of tradition.
Now also, my grandfather is in the hospital facing death. He has claimed that he has been dying for many many years, however it may actually be that time. My father called me to explain the details and stated that he was going to visit him before his possible passing. I decided to go with him. I never go see my grandfather alone, it’s always awkward. He’s just a hard shell and not the most pleasant to visit. The day before the visit, I thought “I’ve never told my grandfather I love you”. I was definitely in my feelings of knowing that this was it, my grandparents will no longer be apart of my life. However, when the time came, I still couldn’t say it. I looked at him as we were walking out of that hospital room given that it was the last chance, and instead I quickly turned my cheek as I said, “Take care”. I felt kind of guilty, yet I was only being true to my heart. I have lots of love to give in my life, however I don’t think I loved my grandfather…
A couple days later, my dad had vented similar feelings and thoughts that so much was changing all at once. He was also losing both of his parents also at the same time and it was overwhelming to him. Then, he said the words that I needed to hear for validation. “I still can’t tell my father that I love him. I don’t think I’ve ever told him that. How can you tell a man that you love him that has beat you and stolen money from you all your life? I don’t think I do love him. I think I just pity him”…That was sad to hear, yet he said what I was thinking. Then, I asked him if he loved his mom. He said he thinks that he does. He’s had a roller coaster relationship with her, as so have I. I will say “I love you” to my grandmother before she leaves. I do love her.
My father also made another great statement, “It is because of me not being able to love my father that I tell Tyler (my son) that I love him all of the time”. This was true, he is a great grandfather. He made some mistakes as a dad as any parent does, although I realize his heart was still in the right place, and that has only made him a better grandfather. He loves my son with all of his heart. My son keeps him young, keeps him going and keeps his heart so full. I have grown to know, that you can take someone’s mistakes and either become it or learn from it. My dad learned from it to became a better grandfather than mine. My son may not grow up with old war stories, but he will grow up with loving grandparents. His paternal grandparents are always there for him as well. They do so much for him and are always there for him with open arms. My mom unfortunately lives in Florida, but he truly misses her and doesn’t question her love for him. My son will have these wonderful pieces in his life that I seemed to have missed. For that I am glad and get to live curiously through his joy.