My Grandma Is Dead, I feel No Sorrow, I Have No Shame

She died Friday. But I’m not sad. I have no tears. And I surely won’t miss her. An essay about the life and death of my grandmother.

My Grandma Is Dead, I feel No Sorrow, I Have No Shame
This is not my grandma.

By Marley K.

She died Friday. But I’m not sad. I have no tears. And I surely won’t miss her.

My grandma wasn’t the stereotypical kind of grandma you see only television. She was a biased, evil little mess. She treated her children and all of her grandchildren differently. She had favorites. As a little girl I learned early on she liked her daughters’ children better than she did her sons.’ Now she’s dead, the cat is really out of the bag. I’m always surprised at how some people behave when death equates to an inheritance. Money and property makes men and women behave terribly.

This will be a long drama-filled week. My father is the executor of my grandmother’s will, and his siblings are acting as if it’s a free for all. They have known she was dying for quite some time. They’ve been planning and plotting to take her personal effects all awhile. No equal sharing per her request. No dividing of her assets equally. My aunts and uncles are acting like wolves. It’s so embarrassing. My grandmother’s children have always been dysfunctional, but never to where they were fighting about to come to blows.

My dad and his siblings are rotten fruit from a diseased tree. Did I mention they are all Christian and ministers?

Grand-Mommie Dearest

My dad treated my grandma like she was a queen. When I was young, I wanted my sons to gush over me and care for me the way my father did my grandma, until I learned the truth about her.

She. Was. One. Fake. Lady.

I tried to like her. I tried to be nice to her, but she always treated me and my siblings differently than the rest of her grandchildren after my parents divorced. The divorce was ugly. My mom put my father in jail and made his life a living hell which made our lives hell. There were rumors my sister wasn’t my father’s. My grandma made us pay since she couldn’t get to my mother who had moved on with her life. Gramps (that’s what we called my grandma) hated my mom for ruining my dad’s life. We would pay the price all of our days. We saw her evil; we felt her biases and slights, and we knew we were not liked.

The feelings were mutual.

I can remember going to her house during one Christmas visitation when I was 8 or 9 with my dad and she had a tree loaded with Christmas gifts for all of her grand kids — except us. She would say my mom and dad had money, and that we needed nothing. That had nothing to do with the price of cheese. My aunts worked and had husbands just like my mother did, so her rationale made no sense. Me and my siblings would sit and watch my cousins open gifts and cringe because the tree would have at least 20–30 gifts for all of her daughter’s kids. Nothing for her sons’ children.

I never forgot that day. Neither have my siblings.

We hated going to visit her house as we aged. I would make the almost 2-hour visit to my dad’s house occasionally and he would force us to go visit her. To make sure it happened, he would wait to serve dinner until we all went to visit her house first — with a plate of our dinner in tow. She got a plate of food before we did. I despised that. She was always a priority to my dad. His mother ate before his wife and kids did.

I hated Gramps.

What kind of woman would allow her son to worship her in such a way, and why would she want such treatment. I felt sorry for my stepmother. She was a good woman, and she didn’t deserve to be his number two to my father’s old evil mother. She knew we disliked her, but she had no say in the matter either. There is nothing worse than a grown man who has an unhealthy relationship with his mother. Nothing, I tell you! She allowed my father to behave like a big man-child, tantrums and all.

As I got older, I did not want my sons to cherish me more than their significant others or their kids. I didn’t see it as healthy. It sure as hell didn’t feel good. I wanted to make sure my kids never experienced the exclusion I felt. Instead, they grew up not really knowing their cousins and extended family. I felt I didn’t fit. I never fit in. Nor did I try. My family are like friends. My friends are like my family.

I. Am. A. Rebel.

Because of dysfunction on both sides of my family tree, I have spent most my life living away from family, peacefully. I only come around when someone dies, and I like it that way. I refuse to subject myself to the emotional abuse. It’s simply not worth it. After my dad’s emotional breakdown and diagnosis of alcohol addiction and narcissistic personality disorder, my dad’s side of the family broke completely down. They saw him as the patriarch, the one to keep all the dysfunction under control. His weakness allowed the evil to spring forth in ways unimaginable.

The matriarch of the family did a piss-poor job of making sure we were all on one accord before she died because she was too afraid of hurting the feelings of her spoiled, ill-mannered brats. She seemed to like us all divided. The death of my aunt (her youngest and favorite child) exposed the fractures in my dad’s family. A family divided shall not stand. It’s going down like the titanic. My family is half-way to the bottom of the ocean.

Cousins and adult aunt’s and uncles almost came to blows at the graveside at my aunt’s funeral a few years ago. My grandma sat by at the gravesite of her youngest child crying. She refused to put any of her children or grandchildren in their places like a good mother or grandmother would have done. There comes a time when we all need correction and no one is ever too old or too grown for correction from a parent or grandparent, especially when you are fighting with family. Yet again, she gave me another reason to not respect her.

I left the cemetery that day vowing to never return to see her. Besides, I hated how she treated my aunt’s friends at her funeral. My aunt was bisexual, and her home-going was filled with the people who knew her the best and loved her the most. My aunt’s life was complicated. There were secrets. Someone hurt her. It impacted her sexuality. There were trans women and trans men in attendance, classmates, and old partners who got up to speak about the impact my aunt had on their lives. They spoke about how much my aunt helped them and how good a friend she was. My grandmother was super religious, ashamed of my aunt’s life. Every time one of my aunt’s friends spoke about her goodness, gramps bowed her head in shame. She made her displeasure known, and it was disgraceful. It wasn’t very Christ-like either.

My aunt’s children knew what their mother was, and they loved her. They weren’t ashamed of her. Why couldn’t my holier than thou grandma have the same respect for my aunt? Her actions throughout my life highlighted what not to be.

One Last Time

Gramps died Friday, and my dad has requested my presence. Grudgingly, I’m showing up with a chip on my shoulder I plan to leave at her grave Thursday after her funeral. Instead of celebrating my grandma’s 90 years of life, me and most of her 60-plus grand kids and over 100 great-grand kids will sit in pews stewing about the differential treatment she gave and her lack of effort on her behalf to maintain meaningful relationships with us.

For the very last time, I must make all the effort to go see her. She’s never been to any home I ever inhabited. She’s never been to the hospital to visit me during the birth of my children. She’s attended no event my children took part in, to include high school and college graduations. She’s attended nothing me, my brothers or my sister were associated with. She missed all of our life milestones and achievements. Never received a birthday card, a call, or a cake. My siblings graduated from Air Force basic training. She wasn’t there. She never helped us with our kids. The few times she kept my kids my dad made me pay her.

Gramps knew nothing about us first hand. Anything she ever learned about us came from my dad or photos.

She was a grandmother in name only. She even borrowed money from me and never paid it back after a lifetime of nothingness from her. Anytime we had contact with Gramps, we had to initiate it. My grandma’s funeral puts an end to the lifetime of forced efforts by me to have a relationship with a woman who did not deserve my kinship.

She’s dead and I feel no sorrow in my heart. My eyes can shed no tears, and yet I’m at peace. I’m not evil, I’m human.

Out of respect for my father, I must make this last effort to see her. My heart is glad I don’t have to see her again after this final time. I’m drinking all week to celebrate the end of my torture.

With the placing of her casket in the ground, my healing can begin. I can make my feelings known. No longer will I have to put my grandma’s feelings before mines. It will be a new chapter for me and my sons. All the family secrets will finally be exposed. No longer will I be responsible for honoring and respecting a woman unworthy of the honor and respect she received.

My grandma has died. I feel no sorrow, yet I have no shame.

When I leave, I won’t be looking back. It’s the very last funeral I’ll ever attend for my dad’s family members.

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