We all have that one eccentric relative who always says and does the strangest things. In your family, who’s that person, and what is it that earned him/her that reputation?
What should I do if we all qualify? There is not a normal, mainstream character in the family, at least not in my generation. At least as far as I know, since they all wrote me off earlier this year, so I wrote them off too. But I do have a great story about my father’s parents and my grandmother’s parents.
My grandparents grew up in midwestern Canada, probably Manitoba. They were from different sides of the tracks, and she was the one from the hoity-toity family. We’re talking the late 1800s. They fell in love and waited for her parents to come around to the idea. And waited. And waited. In their early forties, they married without her family’s blessing and had two sons, my uncle first and then my father. When my uncle was born, my grandmother took him to her family’s house and knocked on the door. This story is probably apocryphal, but my greatgrandfather answered the door and stood there silent. My grandmother said that she thought he and her mother might like to see their first grandson.
Her father replied, and this is what is questionable, “I don’t have a child. How could I have a grandchild?” And he shut the door.
MY grandmother went on to die in the 1918 flu epidemic, and I have one picture of my grandfather with his two sons. He died a few years later, and my uncle always hinted it was a suicide.
The two boys went to live with cousins, where they were treated like second class citizens. Only one cousin was nice to them, and I was honored by getting her name.
So there’s a lot of cruelty on that side of the family, but my father loved children passionately. He would have had a dozen if my mother had not forced him to stop. As it was, I was the last and an accident. My mother later told me that they never figured out if they didn’t get the diaphragm in right on New Year’s Eve, or whether they forgot it completely, but I came along about 9 months later, and my mother had three children under the age of two and a half.
My father died nine and a half years later, and we only had occasional contact with the Canadian relatives, usually limited to summers in Vermont. My uncle was harsh and strict with his son, and my cousin was harsh and strict with his kids. They are also estranged from me.
Sorry, I digressed a little. But the romantic love of my grandparents, their refusal to give each other up, has been a clarion call to all the other generations down through the ages that true love is possible, even though it may last only a short time.