Guess What?

Posted by: Andee / Category: , , , ,

This is so serious that I had to lighten it up a little...


Forgive me, I am more than a little angry right now. Maybe angry isn't the right word to choose... hurt, offended, and betrayed come to mind. Those fit.

For those who don't know a lot about my Mom's childhood, I am going to explain the way she grew up. Her father was a drinker... a heavy drinker. He went to the bars and wasted a lot of time and money chasing the buzz. The day my Mom was born, he stopped drinking cold turkey. You can imagine how much of a change that must have been for my grandmother. She had a newborn baby girl, and a husband who wasn't exactly the man she married.

I want to throw in that I only once caught a glimpse of grandpa's temper. He treated his grandkids like we were gifts from God. We got everything we asked for, and he never once touched a hair on our heads. Both of my grandparents spoiled us rotten. It was weird seeing one side of him, and then hearing, years and years later, how horrible he was to his family. I don't feel like I know him well at all... I only know what he decided to share with me. A cookie-cutter, white-washed version of the truth... sound familiar?

When he stopped drinking, he also took up the LDS Church and started telling everyone in the house that they had to attend church or be kicked out of the house. This included my grandmother who didn't care for the church at all. I was very close to her, and we had a tight bond. She knew the whole thing was ridiculous, without the information I have right now... she knew it.

Another little tidbit is that both of my Grandfathers were heavy drinkers that turned to the church when they decided to get clean. They both went from one extreme to the other... and quickly. It's strange.

Grandpa got more and more abusive as he became more and more active. I am not saying the church made him abusive. He did this on his own. I *am* saying that the church gave him reasons to be abusive. They never would have told him to throw his wife down the stairs if he caught her with a coffee pot, but they would have told him to deal with the coffee pot because he was a priesthood holder and the home and the family were under his rule. We all know this much to be true... especially in the 60's and 70's.

Grandpa learned about gender roles in the church and took it to the extreme. My Grandmother, Mom, and her sister did all the housework. ALL of it. They cooked, cleaned, prepared things for company, did the wash... you name it. They were also expected to help out with chores outside. They had horses, so there were lots of things that needed to be done.

One day, my Mom was excited about driving to see her friend in the next town. She had received her drivers license and grandpa finally gave her permission to borrow the car. She was halfway there and she noticed someone following her with lights flashing. She slowed down and stopped realizing it was Grandpa in his truck. He hopped in his truck and chased her down because there was dust on the piano. She had to turn around and dust and cancel her plans with her friend. When the school shopping would be done, he would go with the girls and he would physically make sure that their skirts were "modest" with a ruler. Did the boys have anything to worry about? No.

Grandpa would hit, beat, kick, and throw. He didn't care who was in his way. He threw my grandma down the stairs when she was pregnant, he beat one of his sons to a bloody pulp, he kicked out one of his sons when he stopped attending church. It was a constant fear of what he might do next, what mood was he in, what they could have possibly done wrong. I can't even come close to truly explaining how it really was. My Mom can't even bring herself to tell me most of it. It makes me angry that anyone could hurt the people I loved so much...

No one in the house was allowed to date anyone who wasn't LDS. That was the most important thing. That was the first question he would ask... "Are they LDS?"

Grandma never got any money for things for herself. If she needed tires for her car, she had to pay for it herself... grandpa wouldn't help her at all. If her kids needed money for things at school, she had to take care of it. Grandpa wouldn't help with that, either. Grandma took a job at a bar/restaurant to make ends meet (and lets face it... to take care of her kids...). Grandpa would give her hell because she was around cigarette smoke. He didn't want any wife of his around something that the church wouldn't approve of. She stuck to her guns, kept the job, and took care of her children.

What grandpa DID do with his money was pay tithing and show everyone how much he paid. He knew it was supposed to be confidential, but he wanted people to know how "worthy" he was. Again, it might seem like I am blaming the church for this... I am not. It just didn't help. That's all.

When the kids eventually left the home (some because they grew up, and some because they were kicked out.. physically...) grandma found other jobs to help herself and to basically get herself away from the house once in a while. She worked in grocery stores, and she was one of the first people hired at a new store called Wal-Mart when it came to Utah for the first time. Everyone knew her, everyone knew what an angel she was... everyone LOVED her.

My Aunt eventually married a non-LDS man and was told that she wasn't pleasing her heavenly father. Grandpa took every chance to tell her how much she was letting him down. She had two beautiful children, and a beautiful home. She took care of those kids and loved them dearly. They were playing musical instruments, they were running for class president. Yet to him, it wasn't good enough. Nothing would ever be good enough.

Sadly, my cousin died while ice skating on a lake when the ice broke through. The rescue teams did everything they could to save her, but nothing could be done. She was only eleven years old. I idolized her. I was only six when she died, but I will never forget sitting on my grandma's bed that night watching the news as they talked about my cousin and nodded in sadness. The newscasters got her name wrong. They called her Terry... her name was Tara.

You would think that Grandpa would take a breath and hug his daughter and console her... wouldn't you? It didn't happen. Tara's death tore my grandmother, mother, and my aunt (of course) apart... none of us got over it. What did grandpa do? He turned to his daughter and said, "If you ever want to see her again, you better go back to church. You are not good enough to be with her right now." Amazing, isn't it?

My aunt became depressed. Anyone would be. She started drinking and battled a drinking problem for many, many years. We were all hopeful when she re-married and started over in a new home, but unfortunately it was more of the same. Her husband (who I liked very much) had a drinking problem of his own, and ended up taking his own life in the garage of their condo. A few years later, my aunt would do the same thing.

I am not blaming my grandfather for what happened with my aunt, but I certainly can't give him any brownie points for actually being there for her. Maybe he wasn't emotionally available to be a good father, maybe he didn't have the necessary skills... but there is no excuse for what he did. He could have loved her instead of make her feel like she would never be good enough. He still thought he was good to go in the light of the Lord, because he had a temple recommend in his pocket and a tithing check in his checkbook.

My grandmother passed away in her sleep in October of 1997. Only three months before my Dad died of cancer. He was very sick, but he stood up as pallbearer at her funeral because he loved her so much. They had a fantastic relationship, and my Mom and Dad would even buy her cigarettes in secret when she needed one... they clicked. I like to think my grandma was there to meet my Dad when he passed away...

Grandpa did take her death hard. He was lost, he didn't know what to do... he didn't know how to do things like laundry and housecleaning. He didn't realize what he had until it was gone.

A few years ago, Grandpa started dating someone. Most of us thought it was a good thing. He needed to be around someone and share life. What bothered my Mom and I was that he was doing things with his girlfriend, like going out dancing, taking trips, socializing, that he never did with my Grandma.

Grandma deserved to be treated so much better. She was one of the nicest, sweetest souls I have ever had the pleasure of knowing... and my Mom is right up there, too. They wouldn't hurt a fly, and they deserve(d) good things.

My grandpa left a phone message for my Mom today. He got married. He moved to a new town, and that is that. She isn't LDS, she is never going to be LDS, and he is fine with it.

What the hell?

Grandma went through a living hell with this man for years and years because she wasn't the perfect LDS Stepford wife he wanted, and now he doesn't care? The rules he set for his wife and his children don't apply to him? He takes his new wife (that is weird to say) dancing, he takes her out to dinner... he does all the things with her that he should have done with my grandmother.

I feel like it's a slap in the face to everything she went through. I feel like I could physically throw up... and I would like to do it all over his hundred dollar cowboy boots!

I can't possibly explain on this blog how things really were... the only thing I can say, is that I am done. I am done going out of my way to have a relationship with a man who could look back and not think he did anything wrong. I can't do it.

I guess that makes me a bad person. I just have to distance myself from someone who can do that. I can't trust myself to be civil or respectful to a man who has been so disrespectful to some of the people I love the most.

Andee

P.S. You know what makes me even more mad? That TBM, true-blue-believing Mormons are going to read this and assume that my Grandfather offended me and that is why I left the church.

You know it's true.


9 comments:

  1. Steve-o Says:

    Andee,

    I understand how upset you are with the situation, but before you distance yourself from a member of your family, do you think that maybe your grandfather is being different with his new wife because he has regrets about the way he handled things with your grandmother? It's entirely possible that the change in his behavior and/or what he's willing to accept from this new woman in his life is a result of what he's learned in reflecting on his relationship.

    Ultimately, how you deal with your grandfather and your new step-grandmother is up to you, but unless you and your mother have actually spoken to your grandfather and you know what he's thinking and his motivations, you might be jumping to conclusions. If you don't know what he's thinking, maybe you could ask?

  1. Andee Says:

    Steve-O,

    Mom spoke with him this afternoon. He doesn't think he did anything wrong in the past. He doesn't think he has anything to apologize for.

    I go back and forth from being angry with him to feeling really sorry for him... because one day he is going to be disappointed.

    This sucks.

    I haven't done anything yet, I have a lot of thinking to do. I do know that I won't be able to bite my tounge anymore. I have been doing that for 29 years.

  1. Steve-o Says:

    I feel for you, Andee. It sucks to have a family member think their way is the only right way, no matter what they do. Sounds a lot like my parents. I don't know if you ever visit FLAK, but I recently wrote about an incident with my mother that your situation reminded me of. My name there is the same as my name here, if you want to look it up.

    Anyway, I hope the situation will improve for you, and that maybe your mother's conversation with your grandfather will at least have gotten him thinking about the negative effect he's had on others' lives.

  1. Andee Says:

    You are a good person Steve-O, thanks for being there.

  1. Demand More Says:

    Im so sorry, what a hard thing to have to deal with. I hope he is ashamed and just doesn't want to admit it, I hope he learned some lesson because if he didn't he will go back to his old self after the honeymoon. Its sad too for the woman he married, I doubt she has any idea what kind of man he used to be. Maybe he will finally learn the lessons he needs to in life with this woman.

  1. Carlos Says:

    hi andee, thanks for posting this both here and at postmormon. I have been thinking about it all day. your mom has said things about her dad judging her for leaving the church and I have actually encouraged her to try and mend fences. I pictured your dad as kind of an old bigot like my dad but he is not like my dad. My dad has a soft heart under a bigot exterior but your grandpa does not seems to be hard all the way through. I could be wrong. Maybe reconciliation is still a good but maybe not.

    Clearly there are some things a person cannot forgive completely, especially when your grandpa is so unrepentant.
    Hiker r

  1. Jackalyn Says:

    I've been put in a similar situation the last few weeks, not with a family member, but I can relate on a certain level. Sometimes you have to cut your losses and walk away. If he believes what he is doing is right, when you know in your heart that it isn't and has caused severe damage to personal relationships, it's not selfish or bad to stand up and walk away.

  1. Andee Says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone. You all really helped me put things in perspective.

    I decided that I wasn't going to pursue a relationship with my grandfather... however, that doesn't mean I am cutting him off from my life.

    I just came to the realization that he and I simply won't get along. That is how it is. He will never understand my views, and I will sure as hell never understand his. He will always be my grandfather, and I have many good memories of him. I try to hold onto those.

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I wanted to leave a comment because in many ways I feel your pain. I grew up knowing my grandpa as my hero. He was the one who taught me to work and the reward behind a job well done. He took us out to ice cream, bought us gifts sporadically and always had gum hidden in a pocket. I always knew he and my grandma were divorced but never understood why.

    Turns out he was also abusive to her and his children. My mom, my aunt, and uncle. It came to the point she had to divorce him to save their lives. Couldn't have been an easy thing in the sixties.

    I guess what I want to say is although I had a hard time coming to terms with what my grandfather had done to my mom, an amazing person, her siblings and my grandma I chose to maintain a relationship with him because he is my grandpa and when it comes down to it I love him. I hope your heart can heal and who knows, maybe this is a change for the better for him. Maybe she will be able to take the church out of his life.

    *Hugs* You are amazing as is your mother, I know you somewhat from postmormon. Take care.