What do you do if a family member dies and you feel absolutely nothing?
If you have an answer to that question, please plug it in below because I have no clue what to do.
I got news this week that my grandfather died. While most decent and normal human beings would be upset and begin the grieving process, I merely acknowledged the news with a nod as I grabbed a drink from the fridge. It’s no secret that I can be a bit rough around the edges, but even I am finding my emotional reaction a bit… troubling.
My Grandfather was not a nice man. He was not kind, he was not gentle, and he was not honest. His primary trait was selfishness and his specialty was abuse. When my Mother was growing up, he never missed an opportunity to tell her that she was stupid and worthless. He told her that she was fat, ugly, and that she would never amount to anything. Those words, no matter how untrue, will echo in Mama’s ears for the rest of her life. I see her struggle with self esteem and I see the damage that he left. That alone is unforgivable, but the story doesn’t end there.
As wonderful a father as he was, he was an even better husband. He would often quit his job for no reason and then come home to my grandmother (and his 7 children) with some story about how his boss was an asshole. My grandmother had to run her own farm by herself because he was so undependable. It was common for him to come up with this half thought out scheme and invest all the money my grandparents had, only to abandon it when it got too hard. He made my Grandmother’s life what I would assume would pass as a living hell. She fought hard to keep her family together, but he only cared about himself.
After my Mom and her siblings grew up, he picked clear favorites and threw money at them whenever they came to him with a sob story. There are countless examples of how that ended up badly, but when it came time for those children to take care of him, they lined up to embezzle instead. They took money to add on to their houses so he could live with them, only to sell those houses and never pay the money back. They bought farm equipment, sold the farm, and again… never paid it back. Some took account numbers off of his paperwork and set their bills to auto-withdrawal from his accounts. Or maybe that was one of my cousins? It’s hard to keep track.
One of my aunts agreed to take him in and care for him in her home. She did that for 7 years, cooking his meals, doing his laundry, and putting up with his bids for attention and his manipulative mannerisms. Three weeks ago, when doctors presented him with a test he needed to complete she said he had to do it. He threw a fit and told her that she was awful and that he was giving POA to one of the children described in the last paragraph. They still expected her to continue to take care of him knowing that she couldn’t even take him to the hospital if she needed too. She told them all to go to hell and refused. They removed his things from her home and that was it. The next thing we got from that side of the family was a voicemail saying that he was dead. I have two aunts now as far as I’m concerned. But to be fair, I think that’s all I ever had seeing as one of my other aunts disowned me before I was even born.
I will not be attending the funeral, I simply don’t care enough. I regret the fact that I never got to look at him and tell him that I knew about all the horrible things he did to all of his children. Most of all, I’m sad that my grandmother died first. She was a wonderful woman and if she’d had 7 more years, she would have fixed our family. I feel cheated out of having her longer, and I hate the fact that I’ve never had a loving, close extended family because of him.
They didn’t list any of that in the obituary of course. To the world he’s a decorated veteran, an outstanding Catholic, and a loving father. But that is all a lie, and that’s why I feel apathy. I know it’s wrong to not mourn the dead. Technically I wouldn’t exist if not for him, but that the only redeeming quality I can list. I was angry for many years, now I accept what’s happened and have moved on.
It pulls at my heart to experience such a lack of compassion. I know it’s wrong in my head, but I just can’t feel it in my heart. I just pray that those donations to charity carried a lot of weight with God, because he’s got a lot to answer for.
Despite all, I’ll throw in my prayer for God’s favor, as little weight as that carries. But that’s all that will ever be, and the chapter is closed now.