Last weekend, Life had quite a surprise in store for me.
Every family has a story, and mine is no exception. I’m not saying that it is worth reading, but as un-glamorous as it is, it is special in its own way.
Mom’s mother got married twice. At first sight, this isn’t odd at all… Many men and women remarried, even back then. But my grand mother wasn’t a widow when she walked the aisle the second time. And that was unususal.
Grandma was the wife of a man who gave her two children; Mom and my only uncle. They were a family for a while, but it wa’t long before their plans of living happily ever after went off the curve.
My biological grand father suffered from schizophrenia.
And not the cute kind. Back in the late fifties, it rhymed with crazy, and my grand mother’s reaction to the disease was to get separated from him and to convince both her children that he was dangerous.
I don’t now much more about that period of my family’s story. Mom and my uncle lost touch with their father, my grandma met another man, got re-married, and for a long time, I believed that he was the father of all of my grand mother’s children.
In the meanwhile, my real grand father got admitted in a psychiatric ward, where he spent the rest of his life.
Around the age of ten, I learnt that the man I called ”Grandpa” wasn’t Mom’s father. But judging by the scarce details about my biological grand father, I figured that he was dead already.
Until one night, when he phone rang, and Mom had a mysterious conversation with a stranger. After hanging up, she explained that her father was dying, and that she had to drive to his hometown to take care of things.
The only time I ever saw my grand father was in his casket. His funerals were both my ”Hello” and ”Goodbye” to him.
I was just a child, and since all the adults around me stopped talking about him right after he was burried, I didn’t ask much questions. I felt a bit frustrated, that I had been robbed of the opportunity to know him.
As the years went on, I understood why people had acted the way they had. It was a scary disease back then, and Grandpa was very ill. But he wasn’t agressive or dangerous, and that troubled me. He wasn’t normal, but he didn’t deserve to be left alone.
Yet he did die by himself.
I don’t even know if he was aware that I exist. And that I love him, despite the distance people have put between us. That made me really sad, and oddly, the only time I had trouble with grief, was with someone I have never seen alive.
Last weekend, I visited my parents, and Mom slipped a card in my purse when we headed back home. In it was a note explaining how she had recently done some research and found an old bank account where her dad’s savings had been kept.
I now hold a check with my share of what he left behind, when he ended his painful life. It is very emotional to have it in my hands after all these years. It feels a little like a wink from the other side, telling me that it is all ok.
Mom insisted that she didn’t want my brother and I to forget him…
As if I ever could.