I was seventeen years old when my grandfather passed away. When I was little, he was my superhero, so I followed him around where ever he went, I was not too far behind. I did not much care for the rest of my family, however, and spent a majority of my childhood arguing with them. When he passed away, I lost the foundation for everything I had. But I was not the only one. My grandmother suffered as a result of this too, having spent almost fifty years of her life by his side. It was a very dark time for my family.
Alas, when you are young, you are foolish. At seventeen, my grandfather left everything to me. My sister had already moved out and my mother and uncle did not care to see to my grandmother, who had, at that point, shut herself up in her room, hiding from the world. Unable to stand seeing my grandmother fall apart, I dropped out of high school to care for her. I was foolish trying to take it on all by myself, but the rest of my family was undependable. What else could I have done? I wanted to do what I wanted, but that conflicted with the responsibilities thrust upon me.
As time passed, I got to know her better, my grandmother and I grew closer and closer, until I no longer butted heads with her. It was nice to finally see her point of view and no longer be at odds with her. This realization became even more prominent as I grew older and had children of my own. I could see more and more of what my grandmother meant and learned to respect her for all she had done. Especially as she had come out of retirement to raise my sister and me at the ripe age of sixty. As a teenager, I never expected to be all that close with her, after all.
My goal was admirable, but I was foolish (I really want that to be known). So foolish, I ended up marrying an abusive man, almost losing my child, and ending up homeless several times too many. Though I did have family, after my grandfather passed, not even my grandmother had a home to offer me any longer. The older I got, the more headstrong I became, to the point that I stopped talking to my family all together. That was just easier for me then, I guess. It was at that point, three years after we lost my grandfather, that the unthinkable happens.
I often heard that when one’s soulmate dies; they just give up on living. In the case of my grandparents, I could see that. Three years to the day after my grandfather passed on from this world into the next, we lost my grandmother as well. Even when expected, death is not an easy thing to overcome, as I, to this day, still mourn the loss of my grandfather. With the full foundation of our family broken down, the rest of my family fell apart. No more holidays celebrated together, no more random outings or get-togethers just to see each other.
All of that ended the day my grandmother went to see her husband again. Since I had been raised by them, their death affected me as though they were my actual parents, not the parents of my mother. As that was the only paternal and maternal love I received growing up, suddenly not having it almost broke me down. Especially since it destroyed our family in the process. My mother, uncle, sister, and I did not and still do not see eye to eye. That being said, I still do not communicate with them. There is one benefit to this, however small that benefit is.
After my abusive first husband, I remarried to a man as wonderful as he is smart. Never once has he ever put his hands on me. We have a beautiful home with amazing kids, two dogs, and a cat. It may not always be perfect, but sharing a home, a life, with him, over time, I really came to appreciate my immediate family, my husband, and kids. I came to love and accept all aspects of their personalities, even in this COVID era, being locked up inside without really getting out. What is more is that my husband’s family accepts me as I am, even with my faults.
In a way, though I may have lost my original family, I gained a new one as a result. It does make me appreciate every family get-together, every picture taken, and every memory made. Especially as those memories combine with the ones from my distant past when we all sat around the living room to open presents every birthday and holiday. I suppose, as someone who has lost it all, several times over, gaining new family members makes you appreciate it that much more. Even if those family members are not the originals you should have had.
I still think about my past, about time lost and that does still hurt and affect me, even now. But I, like everyone else, am attempting to make the best of the life I have been granted, however short or long that may be. As my kids grow and learn, I want this message to reach them as well. Even if you disagree or grow apart, you can never change the fact that you are here. Because of that, you should make the best of what you have, however much or little that is.
I spent the majority of my life fighting against the bonds of family, only to realize that once it is gone, it can never be brought back. I want them to know this before it is too late to apologize for being a foolish kid. There are a lot of things that I wish I could apologize for, but hindsight is twenty-twenty after all. If one has time for regrets, they have time to better themselves, at least, that is what I think. So, to make up for not appreciating what I had back then, I want to appreciate what I have now. That is how I am trying to better myself.
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