Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Appearances May Be Deceiving

(note that I did write a full-fledged WoW entry below this one, so if you have no interest in personal rumblings then pass on through to the other side and we'll all move on together)

So back in July I went on vacation, and during vacation I discovered that my wife and my grandmother were emailing each other in not such a nice way. Now there's a long bit of history which is not worth going into here, but let's just sum it up by saying my mother and my wife do not get along. They each have made their mistakes and while it sucks for me personally, I've just learned to live with it because some things time may not be able to heal. But anyways, my grandmother started butting in and sending nasty emails to Kelley about the failed relationship. So once Kelley told me about the emails, I confronted my grandmother about it. Obviously not a good phone call to make.

Well I make the phone call and we start off with pleasantries. She told me my grandfather, who was a big father figure in my early life before my mother remarried because my Dad was always 12 hours away, was doing better and was getting in the best shape of his life according to his doctors thanks to bike riding and other activities. She also caught me up on the goings about in my old hometown, and I told her about her great granddaughter. Then I finally had to plunge into the topic at hand. It was at that point that I realized that appearances may be very deceiving. While we were exchanging pleasantries, it was all just a cover on a deep-seeded level of hurt feelings.

You see, my grandparents were upset because I did not call them very often. Now I admit I'm bad at calling family, including my parents who have gotten on me about it over the years of law school especially. Grandparents...hardly ever get contact and that includes both sets of grandparents. Yet the grandparents in Iowa always show unconditional love when I do finally get a chance to catch them up. Maybe it's the distance, I don't know. But anyways, apparently my lack of lots of contact ruined my relationship with my grandparents, as my grandmother tells me "we have no relationship." So while I wanted to just make sure the emails stopped, she plays on her own terms and says if I cannot contact your wife I will not contact you. And she hangs up on me...huge pet peeve. Anyways, I bounced these problems off my best friend and just let it go. What can you do? When appearances are so deceiving even in the same phone call, it's hard to overcome the problem.

Well one month later I'm being Knighted in our one-year anniversary event for The Illuminati and I get a few frantic phone calls from my mother. My grandfather was in the hospital with breathing problems. After 3 weeks of tests and a couple hospital visits on my part, we found out it was pancreatic cancer. This is inoperable but you can always try chemo. So they tried what they could, but 2 months later it was clear his body could not handle the chemo. Last night the struggle ended and my grandfather went on to heaven or whatever you believe is waiting for us in the afterlife. I got another call from my mother last night on my way home from work, telling me that he had a blood clot and that his leg was slowly turning purple, which is a sure sign that the last hours are upon you.

She then asked if I could speak with my grandmother to try and lift her spirits a bit. So I agreed although the wounds from the summer never had healed. On comes my grandmother and she tears into me for not being there with the family in the last hours. She tells me I'm not welcome at the funeral if I don't think he's important enough for a visit now. I simply respond by telling her to be with her husband and that this is not the time to fight. I also tell her I will come if I choose to. Not three hours later, he was gone. As it turns out, I wouldn't have made it in time if I tried. But this nasty conversation with my grandmother brought me back to the summer conversation.

You see, that conversation started as I laid out above, with her reporting that my grandfather was in the best shape of his life according to his doctors. Riding his bike and doing all kinds of activities, my grandfather was in peak health for his age. But just like the emotional relationship with my grandparents, appearances were deceiving on that day as the cancer was already wreaking havoc with his body. However there was just no way it could be detected. So appearances were deceiving on every level of that fateful phone call.

Now while I believe you show your true character at your weakest moment, I do understand that the stress of losing a parent/child/spouse is something that is unimaginable for those of us who have not gone through it. So I'm torn on this latest incident. It really makes me wonder how it will be at the funeral, as I don't know which side of my two-faced grandmother I will see. I do not believe the relationship is salvagable, and for that I am sad because it did not seem anything like this was possible 4 months ago. I want to be there to support my family, but I also don't want to just hang my head and take a beating that I don't deserve.

So I will go to the funeral in a few days and we'll just see how it goes. While I feel bad that my beloved grandfather will not have a meaningful relationship with Paige, I realize that maybe that was not meant to be anyways. It's a sobering thought knowing that some kind of cancer has claimed two of my grandparents on opposite sides of the family, but perhaps that will simply make me more vigilant in checking on my health now and beyond. Who knows where medicine will be in 30-40-50 years but I just hope when my time comes, it doesn't end up like this was. My mother was wrecked for 3 months basically living with her parents and knowing the inevitable was coming, only a few weeks from "the best health of his life." So disappointing and so sad, but I guess that's the way things go.

So I bring you this story partially to vent it all out, but also partially so that maybe you learn something. don't assume everything is OK, as appearances can definitely be deceiving. Cherish every moment you have with your loved ones. I was able to spend some hours with my grandfather in the hospital and we talked about the law (he was a voracious reader and knew more law than probably even me), painting in my new house (he painted as a career for many years), and I showed him pictures of the new house and Paige, knowing he would probably never see them again. I think I brightened his days in that hospital and I know he changed my life for the better as a young child.

We did have the foresight to grab 5-generations pictures last fall when Paige was born with Kelley's great-grandparents (who both passed shortly thereafter) and with my grandfather and his mother. So I do have a picture of my last remaining great-grandmother, my now passed grandfather, my mother, myself, and my daughter all together last year. It's not often you get to have 5 generations together, and it is a picture I will keep close to my heart especially now that there will be no more pictures of 5 generations unless I'm the great-grandparent or great-great grandparent. Take those opportunities when they come as you never know when life will get busy and someone will disappear from your life forever.

1 comment:

  1. I lost my grandfather over a year ago, but we shared a close relationship, and he was a father figure to me as well. For some reason death can destroy a family, you have my prayers. I hope you can repair the relationship.