Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like sh*t.
Growing up both sets of grandparents were prominently in my life. I had my mom’s parents – loving, caring, very much the typical grandparents. Liberal, Jewish, give everyone a chance and extremely supportive of us. I had my dad’s parents. There, but not overly affectionate. Demanding. Lots of alcohol required on my dad’s part to deal with them. Redneck. Racist.
My dad’s mother died when I was 14. My grandfather subsequently married a woman 20 years his junior, and the polar opposite of my grandmother. Affectionate and quick to spend my grandfather’s money, my grandfather seemed happy finally. And despite her attempt to get me to call her grandma on the day of their wedding (yeah, um, no,) I liked her well enough.
I came out at 23. After having married my high school sweetheart. My mom’s parents were supportive and loving, and were only sad that I moved away. My dad’s father and stepmother acted as if I didn’t exist.
When I was pregnant, my dad told his father that he was going to be a great grandfather. He said he already was (my uncle’s stepdaughter had a child). In his eyes, his granddaughter’s children were nothing important or worth celebrating.
9 weeks after the twins were born, my brother got married. I was a bridesmaid, and when my dad’s father and stepmother arrived I steered as clear as I could. I happened to be running an errand for my sister-in-law (she wanted me to make sure the best man had the rings) and ran into them as they were driving up. I could only manage a cursory “hi” before I ducked back into the church.
At the reception, I was sitting with some friends who were helping hold babies and soothe a very colicky N. My dad came over and said that his father wanted to see me, and to bring J with me. Two tables over, in the dim light of the reception hall, I listened to my father explain to his father, while pointing at my daughter, “see, dad, they’re from K’s eggs” while he desperately tried to have him make a connection with these babies he so clearly cared nothing for.
A few months later, my dad’s father’s health was going downhill fast. We had gone down for the holidays and he had requested a visit with N and J, and I reluctantly agreed, knowing this could be the last chance for my dad to see his grandchildren with his father. I explained that the first sideways word from his father and we were out of there, period.
We arrived to find Christmas gifts for the twins, and had a strained but ultimately positive visit. It’s the last memory I have of a man who wrote me and my children off.
My grandfather didn’t make my life hell, but he did treat me, and my children, like sh*t, simply because of who I built my family with. And not even who she was, but simply because she was a woman.
When he died, I went alone to the funeral. I went for my dad.