Friday, November 05, 2010

Making Sense of Loss

Some of you already know that I learned last night that my grandfather died. I couldn't write about it because my home internet was down.

Probably just as well...I am still processing it.

My grandfather and I were estranged. We had not spoken since my mother's funeral, and to be honest, we didn't speak often before she died.

He had an issue with homosexuality.

When he found out my mother was in a relationship with a woman, he wrote her a nasty letter. Because she adored him, she kept that letter in her purse until the day she died, and because she adored him, she tortured herself with it daily. I used to beg her to throw it away.

I tried, before and after she died, to reach out to him. He refused my letters and deleted my emails. He refused my family members' attempts to intervene on my behalf. He was the only person in my family to reject me for being gay.

And it wasn't just me...he also rejected my brother, who is not gay. My brother, who is biologically my first cousin, was adopted by my mother when he was two because his father, her brother, couldn't care for him. And at the time, my grandfather advised her not to take him in because it was too much responsibility.

He was never around when I was a kid, and he knows my brother even less. He has never met my brother's children, his only great-grandkids. And for the record, my niece and nephew are awesome.

But in spite of all of that, I had always held out hope he would come around. That he would want a relationship with us. Because I know I am a granddaughter most would be proud to have. My mom's mother was. My dad's parents were. My dad is. And they all knew I was gay. But they also knew that I still had the same values I had been raised with. Which means you find the person you want to spend your life with and you commit. You love them and stay faithful to them. You pay your bills, you live within your means. You treat others well. You live life with honesty and integrity.

I am a diplomat. I have a Master's degree and nearly a PhD. I have a stable marriage and stable job. I have devoted myself to the service of my country. I would have thought he would have wanted a granddaughter like me.

I am a good person. I am also a gay person, and I am not ashamed of that. But he could never get past the second statement to see the first.

So mostly I am sad at not really ever getting to know him and him never giving himself a chance to get to know me.

I can't feel sad at losing him...I haven't had him in a very long time. Mostly I am sad that the chance to reconcile is gone.

10 comments:

Kristen said...

What a heart breaking post. Thanks for sharing. I'll be thinking and praying for you during this time of processing.

Anonymous said...

I'm becoming convinced that a lot of the attitude you saw in your grandfather is generational, not personal. My father has similar attitudes, and has said many times that he would disown any of his children if they were gay. He also vehemently refuses to recognize an adoptive step-granddaughter, rejecting her since she was born (she's now about 11). What possibly has she done wrong, except be born? It's hard to believe, really sad to see that degree of bitterness. I'm convinced discriminatory beharior and attitudes do more damage to the actor than to his/her "target." I hope it's a historical thing that is going to pass, kind of like the burning of witches or other terrible things that have lessened over time. Anyway, M, you're not alone.

Donna said...

Words fail, they really do. Just wanted to say that I'm sorry, and that I hope there will be fewer and fewer people with this kind of a story to tell as the years go by. The fact that you are out, and living such a "normal" life (paying bills, serving your country, nurturing a marriage and all the other things that we all do, gay or straight) will make a difference to the people who follow in your footsteps. And it will help others who might have been like your grandfather: maybe they'll start to understand that they have nothing at all to fear, and that they really don't even have a right to an opinion about your life. Anyway, I'm rambling. Just wanted you to know that I'm thinking of you.

l.b. said...

There isn't much I can say in moments like this, except something silly like (did you smile? YEA!): I would give you a cookie.

You are a good person. Maybe he realizes it now.

sclawgrl said...

It is a shame that we tend to open ourselves to emotional abuse trying to have a relationship with biological family members who behave like idiots. I do it too - I am constantly trying to get approval and attention from someone who is not worth the effort I spend, despite the fact that I have a great relationship with my extended family. I am trying to let go, and cut the problem person out of my life, but then I'm overwhelmed with guilt, and the whole what-if thing. So I get it. And I'm sorry. But you tried, you tried hard, and you can't engage people who refuse to have a dialogue. I hope reach internal peace, as much as possible. Hugs to you.

SassAndSweet said...

I appreciate your post and that my thoughts are with you.

ForeignObsession said...

My thoughts are with you...

Aaron said...

Family really is a beast of burden. We never know quite what to make of them.

I only hope that you have a positive memory or two that you can keep and cherish in the years to come.

NoDoubleStandards said...

My deepest condolences. It is the cruelest of life's jokes that experience and wisdom come to you too late in life to be of much use. I wrestle with my own issues -- different from yours, but no less controversial -- and just hope to have closure before it's too late.

My heart goes out to you.

Jen said...

Thinking of you...