Driving home from my parents house, I started to cry. The tears weren't because he died- they were for the relationship that could have been if he hadn't been a terrible person. For what could have been, but he was too selfish to care.
This is the man who threw my father out of the house the day he returned from his honeymoon- his stuff was in a box on the porch. The man who told my mother when she was pregnant with me- his first grandchild- that he was too young to be a grandfather (he had just gotten rid of his own children, after all). The same was uttered when my mother was pregnant with my sister.
Growing up we had virtually no relationship with my father's parents. My grandmother always was nice to us, but there was no desire on their part to foster any kind of relationship with my sister and I. I'm thankful that my mother's parents were picture perfect versions of what grandparents should be.
As my sister and I got older we grew to resent them a bit- even more so after my father's mother passed away due to Parkinson's. Then my aunts (my dad's sisters) had children and all of a sudden, he wanted to be a grandfather. We were definitely resentful. I don't think my cousins ever really knew or understood why my sister and I didn't care for my grandfather. They never saw that side of him.
When my mother's mother passed away, my sister and I were sitting next to each other at the wake. My grandfather came up to us, and spoke to my sister. "Is Brianne here?" he asked her. Choking down anger, I said, "I'm right here." He didn't even recognize me, yet he saw me every year at Christmas time, when we were obligated to say hello and give him a kiss hello on his gaunt, bony cheek.
In 36 years, he never learned how to properly spell my name. One year, when I was still married to my ex, we received a Christmas card which on the inside said "Briaenn & ?" We made jokes, that I was apparently married to the Riddler, but deep down it pissed me off. Christmas became about looking forward to the cash we would get from him, and that was it. There were never any birthday cards. I doubt he knew when we were born.
My cousins and aunts blame it (and his notorious Irish exits at family gatherings) on his social anxiety. Sorry, I call bullshit. I deal with it too- social anxiety, anxiety, depression, and occasionally other fun quirks. He was being medicated for it. It was an easy excuse for him to not have to spend time with all of us. And of course the family accepted that because the other truth- that he was a terrible person- was less desirable.
Only a terrible person would have missed his own sister's funeral, even though all she wanted before she died was too see him one more time. Only a terrible person would outlive two of his five children, and barely be present for their wakes and funerals. Only a terrible person would have preferred to go golfing than to deal with his ailing wife. These are things terrible people do.
I'd like to think, that in his final hours when he was somewhat comatose, he was confronted with these truths. I'd like to think that maybe he had regrets he never really knew his two oldest grandchildren. I'd like to think these things swirled before him, before the darkness closed over him.
Thinking those things likely makes me a terrible person. So instead, I will seal my thoughts, feelings, angers, frustrations, and disappointments into an envelope and bury them in the ground with him.