My Grandad died about a week and a half ago. He was my Dad’s dad, and he died the night before my Dad’s 65th birthday, so it wasn’t the best timing in the world. Saying that though, there probably never is a particularly well timed moment to die.
He was very old, in his 90s, and not a very well or happy man any more, so it wasn’t unexpected. He’d been in and out of hospital a lot this year and his health was generally failing. He was no longer really well enough to be living in his retirement flat on his own, and I know he would have hated it if he’d been forced to go into a nursing home, so in some ways I’m glad he was spared that. He would also say quite openly that he was fed up and ready to go – that his body ‘just doesn’t work any more’ – so it’s hard to feel sad in that regard. What would the alternative be? To wish him to keep on living while unhappy? He wasn’t going to miraculously become fit and well again. He’d also had to live for something like 18 years without my Gran, who died when I was about 13, and that can’t be very nice. I think he’d wanted to go as soon as she did, and I imagine another 18 years of missing someone was really very difficult.
So there are lots of things that I’m not sad about.
There are some other things that do make me sad though, and that make me now feel apprehensive.
People who have read this blog for a while may have seen me refer to this particular grandad as my ‘Horrible Grandad’. That’s what I used to call him, to differentiate him from my Nice Grandad. Nice Grandad is always warm and pleased to see or speak to me, and never demanding or judgemental or entitled. He’s just pleased if and when you go to see him. Horrible Grandad used to demand people went to see him because it was their duty, and would then proceed to tell you what he didn’t approve of about you and question what you were doing with your life. It didn’t make me want to go and see him, because he wasn’t very nice company.
He’s also the grandad who I felt didn’t deserve to know me. I wrote a long post about it last year, but basically he hurt me when I was young. He had a long conversation with my uncle in front of me about how proud he was that they’d ‘never had one in the family’, meaning a homosexual, and it was very difficult for me to listen to that as a child who already knew he was gay. From that point on I distanced myself from him emotionally. I decided to punish him by not being close to him and not really caring about him, because I felt that if he knew me properly, if he knew what I was, he wouldn’t care about me.
That seemed fine to me at the time, but now he’s dead it seems… petty. It began to seem petty last year when my uncle and cousins maliciously outed me to him (see the same previously long post) in order presumably to cause trouble for me or my Dad. I had resolved never to tell him I was gay, and could justify it because I thought he would just react badly and it wasn’t worth it. It was also part of my attempt to punish him for hurting me. When it actually came to it though and I was outed, he reacted more badly to not having been told than to my homosexuality. He said the main thing was that I was happy. And that rather kicked the legs out from underneath my years of secretly punishing him, because it all seemed rather pointless.
I still know why I did what I did. I’m still angry that he hurt me and made me feel like an outcast from the family, like I was only still there because I could hide what I was. But the fucktard that is hindsight made me think I could have done better by him, and he probably could have done better by me.
And now I’ve got the funeral coming up in the middle of July, and I’m apprehensive about it. I’ll have to see my uncle and my cousins again, I’ve not spoken to them for years, and there will be the tension of knowing they told Grandad to fuck me over, or used me and who I am to fuck my Dad over. And I don’t know how it’s going to go.
As I’ve said before, they didn’t actually damage me. In some ways they did me a favour – they removed the need for me to go on lying, and Grandad was very kind to me about it. So I adopted the position that if their intent was to annoy or upset me, they failed, and I’m not going to give them the satisfaction of me being annoyed or upset. Aside from an awkward phone call to my Grandad, my life carried on exactly as before. So they can’t touch me, they didn’t touch me then, and they can’t touch me now.
I know however that my brother is very annoyed, in reaction to seeing someone try to hurt his brother and his Dad. I think my Dad is annoyed too, but has bitten his tongue on the occasions when he’s had to speak to my uncle since then. Ultimately I don’t want to be the cause of a row at a funeral, and I don’t want to be drawn into one myself.
It might be fine. I might see them and say hello and not really talk to them. Or I might talk to them and it will be normal and we just won’t mention what happened. I don’t know them any more – I’ve not seen them for 10 years – and I’m only assuming their intent was to cause trouble rather than some bizarre sense of Grandad ‘having a right to know’ or something equally pointless.
Or it might go badly. They might make a snide comment or ask where Chris is (I’ve asked Chris not to come). Or they might piss my brother or Dad off. It would be a rotten thing to do – it’s a funeral for my Grandad, and it’s not about them or me or anyone else. But I just can’t tell.
So anyway. The funeral I’ve slightly dreaded for years has finally arrived. It’s on the 17th. I’ll let you know how it goes. Hopefully it will be more BBC and less Jeremy Kyle.