This post could also have been titled "A Side Effect of Growing Up".
My memories are of her sweet side, her delicious cooking, her motherly care of me and my cousins. My fondest memories of my grandma are of her preparing the Christmas feast where all the closest family sat at her table, and after a few prayers began the gluttony. She took so much care to prepare every single thing the way it was meant to be without shortcuts. From getting the right bird from the right place, to the way the table was set. She did teach me a little whenever I poked my head in, but she was always wary I'd mess up her recipes. Grandma was great.
My grandpa seemed so worldly. Always working hard to provide even in his 80s. He owned his own business. He literally had a room filled wall to wall with books, and from him I got the bug of learning. He played the piano, leading me to learn it later in middle school. He was the first person I knew who owned a car. With this car he took his grandchildren to little trips, and every single sight and sound was permanently marked in a part of my brain that is only accessible through scent. He taught me how to properly put in a screw. He was so energetic, so full of life.
It was when my parents relayed their own memories that this beautiful picture I had of them was forever changed. My grandfather lied to them about business, and basically scammed them out of most of my young parents savings. Living in their house they made my mom's life hell, with daily emotional beatings and bullying. My grandmother is manipulative, and only shows love when things go her way. My grandparents would lie to everyone to maintain the image of perfection. Listening to my parents tell me those horrible stories saddened me deeply. How could my grandparents, role models of my youth, be so cruel and selfish? I thank my parents for putting up with them, and for shielding me from most of it. My parents' stories do bring back a few memories of my grandparents being assholes about rent and stupid arguments about paychecks (kids, don't ever work for your dad).
Old grandpa is aging, he's in and out of hospital more regularly and time shows its ugly head reminding me that even a man with such strength cannot live forever. Grandma is still there, though her sociopathic tendencies show more and more every time we talk. I now realize why I don't like talking to them; I can't shake the sadness and anger from the way they treated my mom and dad.
It took me some time to reconcile that my grandparents are both beautiful human beings, as well as horrible egocentric pricks.
My question to you is: Would you want to know if your family members had a dark side? Or would you rather keep on thinking they're the same sweet people you know and love?