So – all the way home I’m thinking of what I want to write here. editing, creating, etc. Then I get home and I think – you know? That would translate into an awful lot of typing! And I just don’t wanna. PLUS – it was a WHOLE lot of rambling that no body wants to read.
So – here’s the reader’s digest version. (although I think it may still end up being pretty lengthy. I’m just not capable of summarizing. never have been – don’t ask me about a movie – I’ll tell you the whole thing. Books too – can’t help it.) Anyway.
My mom’s father is Harold. He’s my maternal grandfather. I’ve never been very fond of him – which is an awful thing to say on the surface but here wait. Most of what I know of him are the bits and pieces mom has talked about as I’ve grown up about how awful it was when she was young. You see, Harold went to WWII and came back and either was already or quickly became an alcoholic. I have to say here – I have never seen him take a drink, and I have never seen alcohol in their house. But then again – I almost never was in their house.
Mom tells stories about hiding in the back room while creditors knocked on the door. Or how, several times, Grandpa would get his check on Friday and by the time he got home sometime Saturday (or even Sunday) it was gone. Which meant no grocery money. My grandmother never had a job her entire life. So – needless to say – not having a paycheck because he drank it all or spent it on his girlfriend (I was not aware of those till the past year – mom had NEVER said anything about them before. ) was a real problem.
By the time I entered the picture though – again, I’ve never seen him take a drink. But we also were almost never at their house. I saw these grandparents about twice a year. Once at the Thanksgiving reunion (held at a cousin’s farm) and then again at Christmas time. Both of them were smokers and my parents HATE the smell of smoke so we would never stay more than one night because the smell would get in our luggage, etc. and drove them crazy.
During the summers when I was a little older (pre-teen) I would go and stay for a week with my other grandparents. A whole week. By myself. I was never invited to mom’s parents house. Never. Not once.
So during these few and far between visits – I never got to know Harold. and as I got older and started hearing the stories (mom never talked about them till I was older) I never cared to try. Neither did he for the reference. I’m not positive he remembered my name 1/2 the time. and I’m pretty certain he’s never known my child’s name. Even though he saw him often.
4 years ago my grandmother died. Rather suddenly actually – although not immediate. She’d always been sickly and had a crummy dr (seriously – he should have been sued for malpractice) and would never change from him. So by the time they actually figured out she had ovarian cancer, the tumor was as large as a small baby, distending her stomach. she lived about another month after the diagnosis.
Harold fell apart. He did NOT know how to function without grandma there to take care of him. He started wanting to die. but very passively. He was never actively seeking it – he just stopped eating, stopped getting out of bed, etc.
And so it began. My mom and aunt (P) would start going over there every few weeks and making him get out of bed and making him eat. At least that’s what my mom was doing. I don’t think P ever did actually. She’s pretty useless. I’m not really fond of her either. Mom would also wash his sheets, clean the house, etc. leave him some meals in the refrigerator, do some grocery shopping and buy things he could stick in the microwave, etc.
Then every few months we’d have to put him in the hospital because he was so dehydrated and starved.
Mom started looking for a good assisted living, and P wouldn’t cooperate. Mom got him a spot at this really nice community that has LOTS of activities, and people, and good care, and seriously? I want to live there. And P wouldn’t help mom. Grandad didn’t want to go, cursed at my mom repeatedly every time she mentioned it, and was just mean to her. And P would tell my mom she agreed but then not back mom up when they’d go to grandpa.
About 2 years ago though – the dr’s told mom and P that grandad could NOT live on his own anymore. and of course the fabulous community was full (it usually is) and he’d lost his spot, and we had to put him somewhere else that isn’t quite as nice. but it was “only temporary” until a spot at the really nice place opened. Which happened twice and P wouldn’t do it.
In and out of the hospital with pneumonia. on and off liquid food diets. He keeps getting better and then going on a hunger strike. over and over.
OH – and at some point P had told mom she and her husband would move in with Harold and take care of him so he wouldn’t have to leave his house. I told mom she was lying to her and mom said no she’s not. P lasted 2 weeks. TWO WEEKS before she went home. And you know what? She didn’t tell mom for 3 months. She’s useless. Seriously.
Anyway – upshot is – he’s been passively trying to die for 4 years. and last night he got his wish.
Harold passed away last evening. without ever telling my mother he loved her. without ever telling her thank you for anything that she had ever done for him.
I’m supposed to be sad. and I know it. but mostly? I’m just relieved because to me? this means I don’t have to talk to P, her husband or her children ever again if I don’t want to. (I kind of like 2 of her 3 children – they’re not totally useless. the youngest one is even going to turn out pretty good I think. The middle one – waste of space. the oldest – the closest to my age – he’s just pathetic. I don’t dislike him, but I don’t like him either. He’s just pathetic.)
and I’m worried for my mom. She’s got major major unresolved issues. She’s always had them. but now we’re burying her last chance on Thursday. And while I know that he was never going to change, she always hoped. She has almost killed herself over the years trying to make him love her. I don’t know why personally – although I do. He was her father. and she always had this idea of what family was supposed to be and she’s always tried to make her family fit it and they never have and don’t want to. So I personally have resolved to create my own “family”. and mostly – my family, those I call family, are the ones I choose. But mom? She’s just going to explode from shoving all this down again. Which is exactly what she’s doing.
So – I’m probably supposed to be doing some sort of epitaph for the man I called grandad. But mostly – all I can think is “good riddance”.