Just because we’re related doesn’t mean I have to love you or your memory.
Dear Grandpa Prince,
You asshole. No one frightened me as much as you did when I was a young child except maybe my dad and you are the reason for his troubles. You egotistical, insecure, stubborn dick. I tried to love you but I couldn’t — not your memory nor your pathetic excuse as my elder — I still don’t.
Somehow I’m supposed to look past your rough, scornful attitude. Forgive you. Screw that. No forgiveness and no forgetting, that’s my stance. And, I don’t have to forgive to be peaceful inside or go forward with being a better person than you.
Grandfather, you taught me some of the most important lessons in my life and I’ve spent my life working to understand them.
Unlearning your imprint programmed into my subconscious through my Father and little contact with you gives me and has always given me the largest challenge of my life.
You yelled at me for being a child; you grabbed me with an unnecessary crushing grip to force me to play piano your way; you spoke to me with hate and a threatened self-image. Much of this you communicated through your son. But, you managed to fill our moments together with these wonderful hurts every moment you could.
My Father and I have grown closer now and he works on removing the shame and harshness you programmed into him. He chooses to remember and reminisce your qualities with me and my children. Every time he brings you back to life in conversation I feel your image and ghost cutting and bludgeoning my self worth and I hate you all over again.
There’s no love in my being for you Grandpa Prince.
But, and it’s a big but, I’m thankful Grandfather. You taught me how not to be. Your lack of self-inspection instructs me daily to question my behavior with my children and wife. Though I do not forgive you, I have the will to want to rid myself of the pain you lived and draped over our family.
Your father was abusive to you Gramps and you never could see or admit how your actions with your family perpetuated trauma for generations. Now, I’m lessening the impact, reframing relationships, changing paths.
I accept how you were and are living amongst my family now. We presently have the power and decide to reroute our conditioning Grandfather. My father and I see you.
My father and I see you.
The man in the mirror is not you.
My grandfather was a good business person. He was kind and giving to people outside of the family. But, he was very threatened by his sons and my mother’s successful family. His insecurities and unwillingness to acknowledge his mental difficulties resulted in many years of pain for his son’s and me.
Oddly, my gramps treated his daughter like a princess and her view of him is remarkably different from my dad’s or mine. He treated his other son horribly. My uncle suffered in life the shame his father instilled in him.
Gramps was a terrific big band leader and professional piano player. He was a professional wood craftsman and created children’s toys as well as furniture. Arnold Palmer, the legendary golfer, was one of his favorite customers.
I only wish my grandfather had wanted to seek help. To think psychologists were legitimate. To realize he had issues.
Perhaps I still have the fraction of a young grandchild in me which just wants to love Grandpa and have him reciprocate the feeling. He’s long gone. All I have left for him is apathy even though to my young children the story of him centers on only his qualities.
Reconciliation for us is not necessary only awareness for what was, is, and will be.