Monday, July 7, 2008

If You Ever Wondered Why I Don't Like My Grandfather, Here's a Reason Why

Yesterday when I went over to my uncle's to visit the kittens, my grandfather was in the kitchen. My uncle had sprung him from the assisted living home he recently moved in to--a place that has improved his health immensely; a place he loathes--and brought him over for dinner. After I loved up on the kittens, I went on it to see him.

He asked how I was, what I was up to. I told him my father and I had spent the day at a memorial party for a family member who recently lost her young husband. One day he'd just tucked himself in for a nap and never woke up. This would be devestating for anyone, but it was extra devastating for this girl, the daughter of my father's cousin, because she has cerebral palsy. She does not have the strength to hold their son--still little, still a baby--and will have to rely on her parents to do most of the parenting for the rest of their lives.

I told my father this story. I told him about how awfully sad it all was, how she'd made a speech and played a song in her husband's memory before beef on weck and cake was served, and my grandfather looked at me and said, "You know what you should do with a woman like that?"

"What?" I said.

"Just take her out back and shoot her," my grandfather said. His mouth was a grim line across the stubbled folds of his face.

I stared at him. I stared at him for what felt like an eternity. When I was finally able to open my mouth, all I could say to him was, "That was an awful thing to say. Really. Just awful. Mean."

My grandfather nodded and then shrugged. "Well," he said, "I am a mean man."

I had never heard anyone sum it up just so precisely.

1 comment:

Jason said...

I'll start with this:
Your grandfather is clearly a nasty individual. Not just because of this, obviously, because you've chronicled his nastiness elsewhere.

I'll continue with this:
He may not be as nasty as he sounds. To say something like that is so egregiously nasty that no human mind could imagine a situation in which that's the thing to say. I think he's trying too hard. He's nasty, but has an inferiority complex about his nastiness, so he overreaches. Really, that's just a stupid thing to say. Shoot her? Really? He's Godwinized himself.

I'll finish with this:
I'm kind of nasty, too. I saw the phrase "lost her husband" and my revulsion of euphemism overrode my empathy, resulting in the thought, "Well, she better look harder." I'm not ashamed, but I do recognize that I'm capable of nastiness at times.