Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Chapter Seven: Grandparents - My Parents' Parents

Chapter 7 of the Autobiography... Letter G, Grandparents.


Chapter Seven
Grandparents – My Parents’ Parents

  To begin, I’d like to start with my Mother’s parents. My mom’s dad’s name is Harry. He died in 1979, before I was born, so I only know what I’ve been told about him. He was a strict father and so old fashioned about so many things. I’ve heard so much from my grandma about how he would never have let this happen or let that happen. I was also told so much about his drinking. Apparently he suffered from alcoholism for a number of years before he died. He went through periods of drinking constantly and even went to the extent of having the liquor store deliver alcohol to his home when he wasn’t able to make it there on his own. This went on for some time before my grandma finally put a stop to it. I also remember being told that his drinking progressed in the ending stages to the point that he would drink anything in the house that contained alcohol in it, including my grandma’s perfume. He eventually passed away after an alcohol related stroke in 1979. I would have liked to have gotten to know my grandfather in person and that is why today I’m aiming to build a closer relationship with my grandparents. 

  Next, I want to talk about my mom’s mom, Elsie. I have called her Nana my whole life, and still do yet today. Her and my grandpa were together until he passed away and I still recognize her as being one of the strongest people I ever knew. She still worked after she turned 80 and is now 88 years old and still volunteers what time she has after her personal hobbies like gardening, sewing, and canning foods. I remember a few years back when she told me how she came about buying the house she still lives in yet today. Her and my grandpa lived in a small house in the country and there was a man who rented a room from them. Well this man was also giving her an additional twenty dollars a week to stay there above and beyond what my grandpa was charging him. Well, my grandma stashed the extra twenty dollars under her mattress until she had saved up enough for a down payment on the house they wanted to buy. She still owns the house yet today. Nana has been there for me so many times while I was growing up. When my parents were both working early in the morning she used to come to my house to make sure us kids were all up and ready for school. She only lives two blocks from my house so I get to see her almost everyday when I’m home. She’s been there for almost every special occasion in my life and I appreciate that about her. We’ve always been so close, and like with my parents, I’ve always felt like I could be 100% honest with her without being judged. Nana means the world to me and I wish I were home today so I could help her in her old age. I like to say that she’s a religious woman too and still attends church every Sunday and any other religious holidays. I plan to attend church when I return home and I hope to be able to attend some with her as well. 

  My grandparents on my father’s side of the family are divorced. I don’t remember when they divorced, but it was long before I was born. His mother’s name is Margaret and she’s 76 years old. I really don’t know a lot about my grandma. My Great-grandmother lived with her for a very long time and passed away when I was in my teens. Every Sunday they would spend hours gossiping and playing cribbage in the dining room at my grandma’s house. My great-grandma always seemed like us younger children were always pestering her, but I was told later on that she was just bothered by young children being around when it was time to play cribbage. I don’t remember much else about her. My grandma on the other hand, I know a little more about. She was once a Supervisor of Probation & Parole in Rock County and she herself also supervised adult sex offenders. One year when I was around the age of twelve, she took me to her office in Madison and showed me some equipment used to monitor sexual stimulation created by choice photographs. It allowed them to monitor the level of rehabilitation in a sex offender. When it was attached to them she would show them photographs of children or rape victims and the machine would show their reactions to the photographs. I was always so interested in what she did for a living but I didn’t learn much more about it until I was knee deep in my own trouble and on supervision as well. On the same trip to Madison, WI that she showed me her office with the monitoring equipment, she also took me to a geology store. I’m not sure what you would want to call it exactly, but that’s how I think of it. They sold all sorts of different fossils, stones, crystals, or anything someone might use while collecting such a thing. In this store was a huge box full of ugly labeled as geodes. They weren’t very expensive and you got to pick one out and show them where you wanted it cut open and they would cut it for you. I picked one of them that had a hairline crack started in it and asked them to cut it open on that crack. When they brought it back to me it had the most beautiful crystals in it, and right in the center was an enormous crystal all by itself sticking out. If they had cut it anywhere else other than on that crack, it would have broken that crystal off inside. My grandma bought me that geode that day as a gift and I still have it today. Every time I look at it in my china cabinet at home it reminds me of her. 

  My dad’s father’s name is Richard. He remarried after he and my grandma divorced. His new wife’s name was Marge, but to me she still was Grandma. When I was young she owned a tavern, but they sold it before I grew up. She had a number of kids of her own and I also looked at them as my aunts and uncles. They were all around for my whole life. Marge always had a difficult time signing my Christmas cards. I asked why she would sign them ‘Grandpa & Marge’ and she said because she didn’t want to make us feel like we had to call her grandma. She still meant a lot to me. I was arrested for my 5th OWI only hours after her funeral last year. She died of complications after she had a stroke. I didn’t have much of a relationship with my grandpa while growing up. There was some tension between my grandpa and my Dad while I was growing up and they weren’t always on the best of terms, so I didn’t really get to know my grandpa very well over those years. In more recent years I’ve become more curious of him as a man. My grandpa has always seemed to be such a gentle, caring, and sweet man in my opinion, but some of my aunts and uncles have always had such strong negative opinions of him and those opinions influenced me for so many years. Now I’ve come to the point in my life that I want to get to know my grandpa better. He’s 78 years old and I want to try to learn more about him, from him. I don’t want to hear about how he grew up from someone who’s judgment is clouded from a stressful childhood. That all was forty years ago. I want to hear about his father and how he grew up. Where he’s lived his whole life and some of the stories grandchildren enjoy hearing from their grandpas. I want to spend time with my grandpa building some kind of memories to hold onto and pass on to my kids. 

  All my grandparents mean so much to me. I never realized how much they meant to me until I finally cleared my mind of all the drugs and alcohol and looked at them for who they really are, my flesh and blood. I hope I still have a chance to spend some quality time with my grandparents and I can make up for some of the time that was lost throughout these last wasted fifteen years.

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