For ten years, I have grieved the estrangement of my family. I have sifted back through the memories and tried to find some fragment that would offer a solution. Unsuccessfully. And so I have continued to move forward but tied to the hope that one day a resolution would be found. That is, until Thursday.
I received a Christmas card from my Mom. When I slid out the green gilded card decorated with wreaths and with the word JOY pressed in gold, I held my breath. Hoping. And when I opened it, scribbled inside was the announcement that my Grandpa had died. On May 2nd.
Grandpa taught me how to pull an onion, peel it, and eat it like an apple while standing ankle deep in the vegetable garden. We would make ketchup and mustard sandwiches and giggle. I’d hold nuts and bolts in my outstretched palm while he worked in his metal shop and then we’d sip a beer on the patio afterwards. His out of the beer can and mine in a shot glass. In short, I adored him.
But then I grew up. And I saw a man. A man I loved, but didn’t agree with. And when I finally gathered up my courage and spoke up for myself and told the truth about my Dad and his parents abusing me, I was cast out of the family. Cast out until I apologized for lying because things like that don’t happen in our family. But it happened. It’s real. And now, I’m free from carrying the burden of a secret that was devouring me.
This was an expensive choice that has cost me the love of those relatives that I adored most: my grandfather and brother. But I was freed to be an imperfect me.
So, I will continue to move through this grief. And the day that my Grandpa died, I worked in my community garden plot and made a batch of peanut butter cookies. I’d like to think that as his spirit lifted up, he glanced down, and winked at me in approval.