I am in a Facebook Group for people who are estranged and have no contact with their parents or family. I have found it really helpful to hear other people stories and be able to share mine and get feedback.
I decided to post something a little different today. I posted a picture of my grandfather in his World War II uniform and write about how he was always so different from everybody else in the family. He loved unconditionally and he was so proud of me. In my dark moments, I remember what he thought of me and what he would think of me today. I know he would be proud and said he loved me And not judge me harshly like the rest of the family does. I cried after I wrote this. It made me sad but also felt like a relief. Here's what I wrote :
I want to take a moment to honor the one person in my family that always cherished me. And the person was my grandfather.
I remember visiting his little town in upstate New York and meeting his friends and neighbors. He took me to the local pizza place where the owner knew him.￼ He made the absolute best pizza. But hey, it’s New York right? Of course the pizza is good.￼￼
My grandfather had a friend with a boat on the Hudson River and we got to sit on the boat and just enjoy the day. We fed the geese. We took pictures in the gazebo near the shore. He talked to me about how West Point was just across the river.￼
At an antique shop and nick nack shop, I found a oversize quarter. I asked him if he would buy it for me. He did. I still have that oversize quarter today. I got it when I was 10.
I remember him taking me to the library in his town. We would go for walks and just walk through all the antique shops and other stores. It was the simple stuff that I loved.￼
He allowed me to start my very first business right outside of his apartment on the sidewalk. I had a stand where I sold jewelry made out of pipe cleaners. It didn’t become a fortune 500 company but I did pretty good.
He brought me to my first pub. I think I was eight or nine. I probably had a soda. But when I walked in, so many of his friends were there and they all looked at me smiling. At first, it was kind of weird. Why are these people looking at me? But I realized that he spoke so highly of me to them, that they were happy to get a chance to meet me.
He was an avid Yankees fan. The only time he’d get upset is if they were losing. And he never had a bad thing to say about anybody. When he didn’t like somebody, he didn’t call them a bad word. He’d call them a pineapple. As in, “What a pineapple.” He really didn’t have a mean bone in his body.
My grandfather was a World War II vet. He was stationed in France, Sicily, and north Africa. Like a lot of vets he didn’t talk about the battles, but he spoke a lot about World War II history and the good times he had at the Winchester barracks in England when he was on leave and made a lot of friends.
I still wonder, even today, how he ended up having such awful children. It’s always been a mystery to me. The three of them were so lucky to have him as their father, despite his simple human flaws that we all have. He was a blue collar working man who loved his family.
He died when I was 16, which was 20 years ago. It still hurts. When my self-esteem, self worth, and self compassion are extremely low, I think of him and what he would say to me today. He used to call me the “chairman of the board.” I never understood what he meant by that when I was a kid. He said it with such pride and so often.
I wasn’t able to be there when he died. That was because my parents made the terrible mistake of moving out of state. We were going to visit the next day but he died that night in the hospital. I don’t remember crying when he died. I think I probably shut down when I heard he died and we didn’t even get a chance to go see him. I know eventually I did cry. Hell, I still cry like he died yesterday.
Unlike the rest of my family, I know that if he still lived today, he would still call me the chairman of the board. He would call me Sweetheart. He would say he loved me. He wouldn’t say how horrible I was because of any mistakes I made. I still miss him so much.. I’ve have tried to emulate him my whole life. I take after him more than anybody else in the family.
Here’s a picture of him in his World War II uniform. In April, it’ll be exactly 20 years since he died. He died on his birthday. Almost like it was the full circle of life. I just wanted to share this because he was a beacon of light in the darkness and still is. I miss him and love him.