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Posted by artofwar420 (6918 posts) -

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.

Puppy intermission
Puppy intermission

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?

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#1 Posted by shivermetimbers (1710 posts) -

I'd prefer not to get into specifics of my family, but if your parents were boomers (born in the 40s-50s-60s) like mine were, they grew up with parents that lived in the depression era and second world war, which were very devastating events with lots of lows. When you're on survival mode for a long period of time, your mind is going to do things that it normally wouldn't do. Of course, this varies from family to family, but point being is that the world was different back then and what was perhaps socially acceptable back then is pretty taboo these days.

This doesn't excuse their behavior, at the same time, it's important to understand if you wanted the full picture (at least in my case).

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#2 Edited by BrunoTheThird (833 posts) -

I discovered my grandfather was a murdering, raping psychopath when I was about fifteen. The stories I continue to uncover in recent years get worse and worse and worse. Threatening to bury relatives alive if they told anyone what he was doing; molesting toddlers; two of our cousins disappeared off the face of the earth at this time, way before I was born, but no evidence ever came to light.

My grandmother might be even worse. She regularly made my mother -- barely ten years old -- get the two of them takeout in freezing weather without warm clothing in the dark while she got nothing. They would eat it in front of her and her brothers. She called my mother a liar for 20 years before admitting the truth about it all, it was fucking crazy. I'm not proud of it, but I was pretty cruel to my grandmother during this time (verbally). I just hated her for ignoring her daughter when she needed her most.

Do I wish I didn't know it all? In a way, yes, because it's inhuman cruelty, but I'm also really, really glad my mother had the guts to tell me so she could finally say goodbye to that part of her life; not live a lie just so I'd have grandparents.

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#3 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1333 posts) -

"There is probably no more terrible instance of enlightenment than the one in which you discover your father is a man — with human flesh." --from Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib by the Princess Irulan (Frank Herbert, Dune, 1965)

Or in this case, grandfather.

It sounds like your parents were invested in letting you have a healthy and fulfilling relationship with your grandparents when you were a kid. Now, as an adult it's your choice how much you want to continue that. I had a grandparent with a similar situation.

I'd rather know the truth, even if I didn't know when I was a kid.

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#4 Edited by rocketblast0063 (301 posts) -

@warofart said:

My question to you is: Would you want to know if your family members had a dark side?

It would be easier to NOT know for sure. It also depends on what the dark side is. But, generally, not knowing is easier. But if I want to know or not... I guess I want to know, even if that's hurtful and hard.