Today is my grandfather's wake. I should be sad that he is gone. But instead, all I feel is resentment and bitterness over his passing. I don't mourn him at all...maybe when I was younger, I mourned that I didn't have that other set of caring grandparents like other families did. But then I accepted it and moved on. I am forced to go to this wake and say "goodbye" to a stranger-I had to go in with my sister and brother to get flowers for our grandfather, due to my father's insistence that its the right thing to do. You know what the right thing to do is?? Not picking and choosing your favorite children to father/grandfather.
Ever since my mom was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a young adult, her family has done nothing but try to casually brush her and us under the rug. My whole 29 years of life, when we HAVE been invited to things, we have always been made to feel like the oddballs. And we are part of a well-known family in town-yet very few outsiders actually know that we are flesh and blood. This is the dynasty my grandfather helped create. He had 5 children, and lived for his high achieving children...and there was my mom. My poor mom. I cry about thinking how alone she must have felt in her family. And then she met my dad, who could still see her worth, through good and bad points of schizophrenia. And our family was created. We saw our family once a year at Christmas. And only bc my mom would have bags of presents for her family, and we would stop over, to find some huge Christmas party going on...and everyone looking sheepish as we walked in. And eventually my mom stopped buying presents. And we only saw "family" at weddings and funerals. That was it. Even the Christmas cards stopped coming. Yep, thats my mom's side of the family. A few years ago, another one of my high achieving aunts suddenly lost everything, as she lost the battle against mental illness as well. And can anyone guess what happened to her in the family?? She was outed sharply and swiftly from the family and their events, and suddenly, we were her only family left on that side. The only ones who invited her to things, bc we KNEW her pain.
My mom has schizophrenia. But she is not SOLEY a schizophrenic. She is a caring, loving, always concerned mom who loved us all deeply, no matter what mental hell she was going through at the time. She loves and cares for my dad. She loves and cares for all her granchildren as well. She absolutely adores new baby (ies) and is a proclaimed "baby hog". We share many traits. We both love blue cheese, we both spend too much time worrying, and we both love crafts (although she is WAY craftier then me; she can draw, paint crochet, knit, cross stitch, embroider....she can do it ALL-I certainly didn't get all her talents, but I do get her love to craft). They outed her so long ago for being imperfect, but guess what! No one is perfect! And my mom has a good heart...and anyone who would give her a chance would know that and appreciate it.
To my "family" on that side. You know what pain and heartache is?? Hearing that your mom finally sucks up the courage to go say goodbye to a father she hasn't seen in years, one that deserted her long ago for being imperfect....and then she gets to the ICU to find out he has died several hours before. Thanks for the call. THAT'S heartbreaking.
At my grandmother's funeral 10 years ago (she tried a little bit harder to include my mom and us before she succumbed to a long battle with alzheimers), it was as if my mom was invisible. Very few people offered my mom any kind of condolences...she was pushed to the side as the more revered family sat in the front. I am really dreading seeing that again. Although my dad swears it won't...that he is going to make sure that my mom is sitting right up there with them. What does that matter though? Its not like that is going to make up for all the years that my mom has been the black sheep of the family. My cousins are all posting how much they are going to miss our grandfather...how its such a sad time for them. Should I post on my facebook- "Sorry grandpa that I missed you our whole lives-I'm sorry I was born into the wrong part of the family tree and I'm sorry that maybe now you can fully see the hurt you caused to so many of us." Yes I know, that would be un-Christianlike. Jesus was able to forgive those that ended his life. So how do I get rid of this bitterness?
For the good things that my grandfather DID cause to happen. Our treatment through the years helped us all appreciate my mom for who she is and not what her diagnosis was, bc we ALL felt the pain of being rejected and we had that empathy that some our family did not have. It also helped us appreciate my dad, who was my mom's knight in shining armor out of a life of rejection and sadness. My dad is crass at times and judgemental and quick to give his opinion at the worst of times, but he also cares and has a heart; and he saw the inward and outward beauty of my mom. He has stuck it out through thick and thin (and we had some crazy years when my mom's schizophrenia was really bad). This whole experience of having a "family" like this has done nothing but force us all closer together. Many times, we will all meet out to eat or out to the mall or have a bbq together, just because and our times together, with my mom and dad and my sister and my brother and our growing familes, are precious. I have five kids, just like my grandfather did but I have learned and I vow to NEVER exhault one above all others for greatness, nor reject one of my children for their shortcomings. I don't want any of my children feeling the rejection we have felt our whole lives; the rejection my mom felt most of her life. So I guess in a way, he has made me into a better parent then I might have been. Thanks Grandpa!
So as the wake and funeral approach, I desperately want to find a way to bid my heart of this bitterness. Its been best to just ignore it all these years, but now I have no other choice but to step up and face "the family" again. I am trying to be a better person. When I found out my grandfather had days to live, I said a prayer, praying that God would forgive him for all that he has caused us. But I don't want to be guilted into feeling like I have to lament the passing of this "wonderful man". He helped create my mom, and I will be forever grateful for the life I was granted bc of that. And thats about it. Its like going to a stranger's wake and funeral, except I am expected to show some kind of feeling?? *sigh* All I can hope and pray is that God can help me heal the bitterness brewing in my heart this last 29 years...and that I can look beyond the example of the rest of the "family".