My paternal grandfather was also an interesting man. He has had a profound effect on my life and the lives of my siblings and we barely knew the man. I don’t ever remember him except in his wheel chair. Before his wheel chair, he was a lot like my father. He was a raging bully head of household of cowering wife and children. He was intelligent and educated himself at night to get his master’s degree so he could become a principal of a high school. Apparently he was quite well liked as his role of principal.
As a child, my grandfather had tragedy strike his family at the age of ten. His mother died from the flu. His father left my grandfather and his brother alone to fend for themselves. It started an eight year long journey for the two brothers to be passed from one family member to another who did not want them. And so the dye was cast for things to come.
My grandfather grew up feeling unloved and unwanted and this colored his world view as an adult. He was a very bad father to my father. My grandfather took out all his rage on my father. My father grew up knowing he was an inferior human being.
I will relay the story I know best. It is straight from my father’s lips to my ears and that’s how I know this. My uncle was also very intelligent man. He was my father’s older brother and the favored son in the family. My uncle became valedictorian of his high school. It was the same high school where my grandfather was a principal. My own father felt the competition from the moment he set foot in the school, even though my uncle had already graduated and had started college. He worked very hard all through high school chasing the same dream of valedictorian. He came up short by one and received the honor of salutatorian. Any mentally healthy parent would have been proud. My grandfather berated my dad for coming in second. One can only image how this made my father feel. This is the same way he’s been making his children feel for our entire lives. This one action has influenced my entire life by the way my father has treated me.
My grandfather was also a heavy cigar smoker which probably had a lot to do with him having a major stroke in his late fifties. He lived eight years in a wheel chair being a burden to his wife. It must have stained him tremendously to not be able to move or talk. His brain function was still there and he did know what was happening around him. He just couldn’t move or talk. It is an ironic and fitting close to his life. He tortured his son. He was not very nice to the rest of his family. He was a raging insensitive man. And he was left to his own devices in his final years and have nothing to do but think about his actions.
I wonder what his conclusions might have been.