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Since I had not seen my grandfather in almost 10 years and we had some time to talk, I decided to ask him about his life story to try to learn a bit more about the man who raised me and the family.
I write this knowing full well that people are not always what they seem, and that every story has more than one perspective; I often wonder what's real and what isn't, what really happened and how. My aim is not to idealize or talk bad about anyone. This is mainly told from my grandpa's perspectives and experiences.
My grandfather was born in 1927 in Mexico to a poor family, mainly headed by his 16-year-old mother at the time. His father was not in the picture, but he was aware that the man had fathered 8 other children from 3 different women and he met most if not all his paternal siblings.
Grandpa spent most of his youth working in the cotton fields to help support his mother. His mother worked cleaning the mansions of the rich but money was still hard to come by.
His mother married a total of 3 times and unfortunately, all men were abusive. Grandpa said that during his teenage years, he remembers the last man drinking and verbally abusing his mother, kicking out his family every time during those drinking episodes. Grandpa had enough, and so one day, he proposed that he, his mother, and siblings leave somewhere else; he was tired of seeing his family in that state and he felt he could provide for them all, so they moved. Grandpa raised his maternal siblings as his own children.
Grandpa didn't talk much about his love life except that when he was young and single, he used to go to parties with a lady he really liked. He never started a relationship with that woman though but they got along very well and if things were in their favor, he would've been with her. Do you ever wonder how things would've been if other decissions were made? I do especially in this case, because the marriage my grandpa did go into was extremely toxic for both, grandma and himself. How would things have been if he would've married the other lady? When he married my grandmother, (I don't know when), my grandmother already had 2 children of her own from previous relationships. Grandpa raised them too and additionally had 6 more children with her. (Rumors have it that only 3 out of those 6 children are his, but regardless grandfather still considers them as his own).
One of the things that intrigued me the most and I wanted to learn more about was how my grandfather dealt with betrayal or heartbreak, which like most of us, he was no stranger to. He did not go into details about these instances but he mentioned them anyways, which means they were of impact to him. When mom was about 6 years of age, grandpa found grandma was having an affair with his best friend. She kicked him out of the house in favor of the other man she had the affair with. (It is rumored that the kids I previously mentioned that are not my grandfather's are the other man's children but the man was never responsible for them). This unfortunately resulted in grandpa's separation from his children, as he had to move from the rural area they were living in to the city to work in a supermarket with one of his brothers from his mother's side. The money he got he sent to his children, however, since both parents were emotionally and physically unavailable, (grandpa working far away, never really visiting the kids, and grandma working nearby but spending her free time with the other man, or struggling with her mental illness), created a constant gap which their children still resent. The constant chain of inattentive men toward their children still continues to this day, as most men in the family have children and never really take care of them or are never held accountable.
Thirty or so years later after those events, when his children were all grown and mostly married, grandfather was fired from the supermarket he worked in, (supposedly, and by his brother's own words, because grandpa was nearing retirement and his brother did not want to pay all those years worth of work; lawyers were very expensive so grandpa never sued), and once more kicked out of the house he shared with his brother. Grandpa out of necessity had to live at my grandmother's place mainly due to a son's request, and see my grandmother still get along with that man she had the affair with. (The man never got together with grandma because he was married too and he did not want to leave his other family, which made grandma very unhappy, contributing partly to her and my grandfather's toxic interactions and family drama at that house, which my grandfather also had something to do with). By then, all the family were living together in that house with their partners, mom included. (I imagine that house was a drama fest. How can so many people live together and maintain their sanity?) Pregnant with me at the age of 25, mom was having problems with biological dad, who left for reasons I don't know. Mom got a house of her own and asked grandpa to move in with her. After several arguments and convincing, grandpa finally accepted.
Grandpa spent 8 years of his life raising me while mom worked, teaching me what he knew and doing the best he could. As I said before in a previous entry, he really valued formal education since he didn't go to school so the importance of it was drilled into me very young, as well as the development of honest, moral character.
(I was surprised to find out years later, that when mom and I immigrated to the states, she was relieved to get out of that house because grandpa was very jealous and controlling. With my mother's own controlling and dominating demeanor I can imagine they constantly clashed). Grandpa never remarried and still lives at mom's house alone. He never answered how he dealt with life's hard knocks without becoming bitter, he said he didn't know how. (I mean, first, the wife cheated with his best friend, then his brother, the one he raised, after 30 years of work, does him dirty? I haven't experienced half of what some people experience, and I'm already beyond disappointed with life, yet some people, like this man, go through worse and still manage.) He thinks his personality is helpful. He said that if he compares how he is now to how he was 40 years ago, he considers his state now to be almost like paradise so he has no reason to complain. According to him, he doesn't need much to be happy except the roof over his head, food, and his family's well-being. "I think I have a pretty good way of looking at things," he said. "I don't let things face me. I don't repress anything because it's not healthy, I just let it slide out of my mind like soap and water." And that he does I guess because he still remained in contact and having a good relationship with the brother that fired him from the job until his death, (and another rumor has it he still loves grandma that's why he never remarried but who knows). I wonder if he stayed in contact with his bro out of convenience or need? Who knows. And the rumor of him still loving grandma, after more than 40 years and everything that happened is so weird to me. Again, only he knows.
He treasures his memories and lives content.
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