Thursday, May 16, 2013

#47 - Done!

#47 is "Visit my grandpa's grave"

I actually completed a few goals before this one, but this has been pulling at my heartstrings for some time.

My grandfather died on Thursday, August 9, 2012. I was working at Kmart when I got called into my manager's office and she handed me a phone. My dad was on the other line. He said "They've found David dead, Monkey." I just covered my gaping mouth. Instant tears. My manager rubbed my back and asked me if I wanted to go home. After a little contemplation, I knew I had to. I was so confused. My Pa was gone? How?

My mother's family had gathered at my aunt's house, waiting the arrival of my aunt in Florida and an Uncle in Massachusetts. To say the least we were all a mesh of hugs, tears, laughter, good times, and "what-went-wrongs".

Over the next several days, we bickered, cried, laughed, helped, but most of all - loved. Then we buried my Pa. Without any real reason or rhyme as to why he was gone - we let him go. We were never going to have an answer.

About a week ago I visited my grandpa's grave with my mother. Upon my return home, I cried my little eyes out.

 In my senior year of high school, I wrote a paper for English 1010 that has only been read by 3 people. I wrote of a man who I admired above basically every man on Earth but my daddy. I wrote of the despair my family suffered at his hands. I wrote of a man that I lost all respect for. Something in me thinks it's time for people to see this. This was my first college paper ever.

My grandfather was a man of integrity, strength, and youth. Aside from my father, my maternal grandfather was the most positive male figure I had in my life. He taught me many lessons in life such as gender equality, politics, and self-discipline. All throughout my childhood, he filled my head with dreams that now seem a bit impractical, but at that young age dreams were all I had. Little did I know that not only my grandfather’s spoken lessons, but his negative implied lessons, would mold me into what I am today.
            As a child, I remember my maternal grandfather as a charismatic man who could persuade anyone to believe things should be the way he saw them. This trait made him very respectable in hometown politics and public services. For many years he was fire chief of Jackson County and he also worked at the local jail doing different jobs. He was always trying to better the city by taking out the bad and putting good in its place. He was a hero in many citizens’ eyes, including my own.
            In local politics, he was a force to be reckoned with. He ran for many offices through the years and won most of them. Before my pre-teen years, he was voted mayor of Gainesboro. In his first term as mayor, he started resurrecting the city from the dead. He did all in his power to help Gainesboro, and the public’s gratitude was reflected by the results of the next mayoral election. He was voted in to another term, which enabled him to do more deeds. One of his actions of goodwill was tearing down old houses in town. The houses selected to be destroyed were old  and uninhabitable, but of course they were replaced by brand-new homes for the public.
I happen to have known two of those lucky families, because one was my paternal grandmother. Seeing my grandfather do this was a beneficial lesson to me, because it disproved the theory in my head that said my two families separated by divorce had to hate each other. At such a young age, I could not understand why he would be generous to someone he was supposed to loathe, but I figured that he had to be a good man to do something like that. He strictly believed in his policy that you should “house the homeless and help the helpless.” I did not know that, though, until midway through his second term as mayor: the summer I moved in with him.
When I was nine, my mother went through her second divorce. As a result we moved into my grandfather’s home. For two years I lived in his basement apartment with my mother. The apartment was small with only a living room that contained our only bed, a bathroom, a kitchen that led upstairs, and a laundry room with a dining table. Though it was not much to call a home, my mother and I were proud to have it as our own. Although we lived downstairs, we loved to go upstairs with my “Pa” and “Nannie,” who was my step grandmother. Those two years with my grandparents influenced my life greatly.
My grandfather was a proud person, and it showed when he talked about me. He would always comment on how studious I was and the intellectual I was becoming. I loved it when he bragged on me, and my favorite thing he used to tell me was “CC, you’re going to be the first female president and when you get to the White House, don’t you forget about your poor old Pa.” Whenever I needed help with history homework or needed an encyclopedia, I knew I could run up the stairs and find him sitting in his worn-out, blue recliner, telling his chihuahua to stop barking at me. “Hey there, CC,” he would say and smile his gap-toothed grin.
My mother met a wonderful man when I was about nine and they were wed the summer after my eleventh birthday. We moved out of my Pa’s house and into my new stepfather’s home. The first few years that followed resulted in a lack of communication between grandfather and granddaughter. For a few years, we had little or no contact with my grandfather for reasons I could not comprehend, but I would soon find out the reasons. Little did I know, my role model was about to become a menace that I feared.
            My mom’s fortieth birthday was on January 20, 2006 and at the party my new family received bad news that my Nannie had left my Pa. There had been some incidents before her disappearance. I will simply say the incidents were violent. I had known my grandfather had a bad temper, but he usually kept it in control. This separation sent him over the deep end, but he was too proud of himself to see that what had happened was his partially his fault. Things quickly accelerated from there, and it was full speed ahead downhill. Pa was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and because of that he was put on many medications as well as what he already took for diabetes, high-blood pressure, etc. Despite the agony he had already put his family through, family and friends organized a benefit to pay for bills that he could not pay due to his wife leaving him in debt. Everyone I could possibly think of was at the benefit, and needless to say, it was a huge success. All public officials that he ever worked for/with my grandfather were there as well as the appreciative citizens of Jackson County. Our efforts, hearts, and goals were all in the right place, but we had no idea that it would all be in vain.
            Of course, my grandfather knew about all of this, no matter how much he let on. When it was all over though; however, all he cared about was getting his money. At this point, he was very dependent on drugs. Therefore, we knew better than just to hand over the money to him; it would practically be saying “Here, we do not care if you don’t spend a dime on your hospital bills.” Telling this news to him made his disposition even more enraged. On a visit to try to help him, my mother’s life was threatened and my uncle was pistol-whipped.
            Since that day, I have not spoken to the man. It’s depressing now to look back on everything he taught me and all the memories we share, but I cannot go through an experience of that nature and just perpetually pity myself. Instead of getting mad at the way things turned out, I try to remind myself of the implied lessons that I learned. Be kind to those who care for you. If you abuse their love, you might just lose it.

Sometime in March of last year, a mere 5 or so months before he passed away, my Pa called my mom. She panicked. I was tired of seeing my mother torn down continually because of what he had become and what he was doing, so I answered the phone. When he asked for my mom, I was defensive. I asked him "why" and told him I'd have to have mom call him back because she was busy helping me fill out out my FAFSA for college. I was so rude and cold.

That was the last time I spoke to him. That was the last time I ever heard his voice. Although he had no idea who I was initially, I heard him call me "CC" one more time. 

I really don't know if I'll ever get over how I treated him. I don't know if I'll ever forgive myself.

I'm sorry you never got to know that I finally got to college. I'm not exactly a lawyer, but I'm still advocating for something I love - children. I'm sorry you never got to meet Jw - I'm sure you would've poked fun at him, but you would have approved. I know it in my heart. I'm sorry you didn't get to see your first grandchild get married - I know it would've made your heart proud. But I felt you. I still feel you. I love you.

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