Tag Archives: Family

The Happiness You Seek

That’s an interesting statement, don’t you think? I used to be one of those people who bought into “seeking” happiness. “What do you really want out of life?” someone would ask, to which I would answer “to be happy”. Oh, the things we learn during our journey.

Something important I have finally figured out during my descent through hell in this last year is that happiness is not a thing you can obtain. It is not & should not be made a goal in life. It is not an ending to anything, it is merely a feeling you either allow or do not into your soul. 

At our core, I believe that most people, including myself, are good. Call me a fool, but after all I’ve seen & done, I am still an optimist. I believe in me & honestly…I’m starting to realize that may be all I need. Sure, it’s nice to receive approval from others, but I don’t really need it anymore, not entirely, or at least not from the people I sought it from for so many years. To quote Neil Young “it doesn’t mean that much to me, to mean that much to you”.

In the eyes of some, I will never amount to anything. I will never overcome the opinion of myself that I have put into their minds. I will always be a failure, a liar, a drug addict, a thief, a lost soul…I am finally okay with people thinking that of me. It is not my responsibility to change the opinions of others, nor is it my responsibility to argue the validity of each of these claims. It is only my responsibility to do the best I can at making every day I breathe the best day I can. I am my responsibility, no one else is nor is anyone else mine. Some days I fail at my responsibilities. Some days I don’t get out of bed. Some days I can’t shower. Some days I’m angry at nothing in particular. Some days are spent crying for the loss I’ve put myself through & some days are spent crying for those who have left the rest of us behind to miss them. Luckily though, lately, I am happy more. I smile sometimes. I work tirelessly to put this project I have dreamed of for years together so that we can share it with the world. My dreams are becoming a reality, against all odds & that not only makes me smile, but it makes me happy.

I do not seek happiness. I don’t need to. It comes to me whenever I allow it in.

I wish that for everyone else in the world, to allow happiness in, even if you feel like you’re drowning, you can’t breathe, you can’t scrape yourself off your sofa, you hate your reflection in the mirror, nobody loves you…whatever negative excuse we can all come up with at any given moment….let it go & be happy! Go for a walk. Listen to music & dance, even if you have no rhythm. Sing your favorite song at the top of your lungs, even if it makes the neighborhood dogs sing with you, jump in puddles~no matter your age, dance in the rain. Laugh until you cry. Do it for you & no one else! That is the answer to healing, smiling & finding happiness, at least in my opinion.

=)

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

On the subject of marriage & children

 

I feel I must preface this post due to the possible backlash from those who may read this the wrong way. This is my bog. They are my stories, my feelings. I am not talking about anyone else specifically unless I say I am!

Why don’t more people decide what would be best for their children before they get pregnant? I’ve never been able to figure that out. It’s as if they just want to spawn, regardless of their personal circumstances, the person they choose to have a child with or their financial situation.

Take a look around almost anywhere you go these days & you’ll see frustrated mothers with kids at every turn. They scream at & beat on them at the grocery store. They allow them to run around outside without shoes, let alone supervision. I’ll never understand people when it comes to their practices of having/raising children or of multiple marriages.

That being said….I haven’t even touched on my issues where these topics are concerned.

When it comes to marriage, mine wasn’t so much a conscious choice as not becoming a mother was. I, like many people in America, come from a broken family, well multiple broken families. My father alone has been married to 4 women. It’s as if he never learned how to date. I do respect his undying belief in love, but come on…4 wives? My mom is a completely different story of choosing the wrong men & I am NOT in the mood to get into that this morning.

So, what I did was purposely date boys/guys/men who either didn’t believe in marriage at all or who had serious commitment & other issues. That way, I knew I would never have to worry about going down that road. Okay, so maybe that’s a cop out. I was completely afraid of marriage, or any serious relationships for that matter. I have never been in a relationship longer than 2 1/2 years. Talk about fear of commitment.

Where having a child is concerned, that story is a little more confusing, a little sadder. I wasn’t that child who dreamed of being a mommy. As I got older though, I did start to think that it would be wonderful, to create a life inside you & then help guide them to become the adult they were meant to be. That being said….the very thought scared me beyond words. Being responsible for another humans life? Shaping & guiding them? Well…..I was sure to screw that up! How could I live with myself knowing that I was responsible for destroying someones life just because they were born of me. I went down that road, but as the child.

As I’ve gotten older, the want to be a mother grew stronger, as did wrong choices in men. Not a single guy I dated would even discuss the idea of having a child. Then again, looking back, I would have been a moron to have a kid with some of those assholes! Once the feeling started inside me, it never actually went away.

Sadly, time makes it more difficult to carry a baby & I’m not really sure I’d want to be that old mom. Besides that, obviously if you read my blog you know, I’m still not in the proper mental state to have a child.

I guess some people just aren’t meant to have children of their own. However, if they’re lucky, they still get to be surrounded by amazing children of other people & make an impact. There may also be the chance to become the step-mom to an amazing boy someday….we’ll see.

 

Nobody’s Wife or Mother & that’s just fine ❤

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogging, Dating, Family, Life, Opinions, Real Life, Relationships, Single Life, Writing

“You Can’t Go Home Again”

In the Thomas Wolfe novel, he claims, in part, that “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood”. While we know that literally, one can go home again, but as I stated in an earlier post, the metaphorical idea holds true…one can never really go home again.

For the past decade I have held inside me a dream to buy back my Grandmothers home. When she passed in 2001, my father & step-mother decided to sell the house. This fact has bothered me since I found out about it. The main reasons for this being that my Grandmother had this house custom-built during a time when women were still not as likely to do such a thing, but she was never a “typical” woman. She worked very hard for everything she got in her life & I have always respected her for that. Sadly, I always held in my heart that she would allow me to live in the home & carry it on in our family once she passed. That was not the case.

I have to make it a point to admit that when my Grandma passed away, I was not there. The easy answer to why is that I wasn’t aware. The more complicated answer is that after so many decades of running into a brick wall with my family & relatives (mostly the relatives), I made the choice (at the wrong time, it turns out) to stop running at the wall, only to slam into it, hurting only myself. (or so I thought)

Madelyn was diagnosed with Lung Cancer in the fall of 2000 & passed away in April of 2001. Christmas was ALWAYS her favorite time of year. The weeks leading up to Christmas, she was recovering from surgery that removed her lung tumor & half of the lung it had invaded. She was planning a family Christmas party, including her sister (my Great-Aunt) her children & theirs as well. A few days before Christmas, as I was making my daily phone call to see if she needed me to stop by & bring her anything, she mentioned to me that she felt it would be best that I didn’t attend the Christmas party. I can admit now that I immediately saw red. Her reasoning was that she didn’t want any “trouble” this year & with the Belians attending, my presence would cause strife. I don’t think she had any idea how much that statement broke my heart. What did she mean, I shouldn’t come. I was her granddaughter, the child she had a HUGE hand in raising. Her direct bloodline. If anyone should be there, it was my dad & his wife, myself & my brother. Well, they were all there, but not the bad seed. That was my moment. The moment when I said “Enough!” I stopped that day. I stopped trying. I stopped putting myself out there, only to be ridiculed & seen as the person I was when I was young….irresponsible, disrespectful, distant, loud, etc. That is a person I would never outgrow in the eyes of many people I share a bloodline with, some of whom I don’t even really know. It’s amazing how those things can stick with you, but all the good, the growth, the change that you make is just plain invisible. (I did find out later that my Grandmother never told my father that she & I had that conversation, which only made him angrier at me, which in hindsight is understandable (“Same old Jennifer”)

I openly admit that not spending Christmas Eve with my Grandma was a terrible mistake on my part, regardless of my reasons. What I should have done was suck it up, bury my personal pain & go hang out with her. Because I chose not to, we never spoke again & 4 months later she was gone. I wasn’t able to be there to say goodbye, to help pick her burial outfit (because she took great pride in the way she appeared & dressed), to help care for her (even though I was told I couldn’t have handled it), to give back, even in the slightest bit, what she gave to me my entire life by being my ONE constant. The stable, responsible role model that I always knew she was, but could never quite live up to. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t love that woman more than anything or anyone in my life. It just means that once again I was selfish, consumed by hurt & bitter that I was always the bad seed, the black sheep…a role I never asked for, but surely earned.

Fast forward 11 years & a HUGE change in myself. I have made it an odd habit of driving by the house since I found out my gram passed. It became somewhat of an obsession to me. At times, mostly highly emotional times, I would find myself crying or screaming at the people living there to get outta my house. Not the healthiest behavior, I’m aware, but I never claimed to be entirely stable, emotionally or otherwise.

Recently, I’ve noticed there were no cars in the driveway. That was the immediate sign to me that they had moved out, obviously a case of foreclosure. Last week I typed the address into the local realtor website & sure enough, there were 9 pictures of my childhood home. I wrote them IMMEDIATELY, asking for a viewing. I was gonna get it back! I was so excited, making plans in my mind, blah, blah, blah. It was a very fun & exciting 24 hours….that is, until the real estate agent showed up to meet me.

As he unlocked the door, he turned and said to me “I have to tell you that this house is infested with black mold”. I said I knew & didn’t care & he opened the door. For a brief 5 seconds, I could smell her. Then the black mold stench took over. My mother had offered to go with me & at first I didn’t understand why. Maybe she wanted to see the house she spent much of her late teens & early twenties in. Later, at lunch, she told me the real reason, that she felt this was something I shouldn’t have to do alone. That was lovely, especially considering that we are not very close.

I walked through every room. I envisioned the furniture, the sound of the television or music on Christmas. I went into my old bedroom, that one felt weird, the bathroom I used to sit on the counter with my feet in the sink getting ready. Everything was the same. In the ten years these strangers lived there, they didn’t change a thing. They just let it rot. I hate them.

When I reached my grandmother’s bed/bath in the back of the house, the agent & my mom had already gone outside, unable to stand the smell of the mold. I just talked to her in there, seeing her putting on her makeup in her bathroom, standing in her walk-in closet choosing one of the 100’s of dress suits to wear that day. Inside her closet I began to cry. I cried because I miss her. I cried because I wasn’t there when she passed. I cried because I was still the same failure she hoped I wouldn’t be when she was alive. I cried because this was the last time I would ever be in this house.

In the end, I’m glad I went. I feel free of that dream now. I no longer drive by the house. I don’t think about it. I don’t fester over it. I don’t care.

Goodbye house

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Life

Torn & Frayed

Many people in this world pack up their belongings & move away from the place they are from. They do this for a myriad of reasons ranging from job relocation, a new job opportunity, love, adventure or just to get away. While it seems so exotic & exciting, which in part it is, most people don’t consider how difficult, lonely & scary this is. The toll it takes on a person’s soul can, with some, be quite heavy. For some, it has no effect on them at all & for others the effects are mild. When you think about the strength that comes with such an endeavor, taking this chance is a very strong & independent choice. Sometimes we are very close to our family & friends, in which case putting a great deal of distance between yourself & those you love the most hurts immensely. Many people actually end up moving back at least once.

I am one of these people. Honestly, I never really thought I would leave Detroit, although I had wanted to for many years, mostly when I was young & still extremely troubled. I just couldn’t find the inner strength to leave my comfort zone, even if it wasn’t very comfortable. It was what I knew, it was home. I was a BIG fish in that small pond. I was known, had & still have MANY friends, real friends who I know to this day I can turn to if I need them for anything & they can with me. In the last 10 years my relationship with my family has healed completely. When I say family, I mean immediate, not the assholes I happen to be related to. I’ll never accept them into my life now that my Grandmother is no longer around to force them on me. It is a very healthy feeling after a lifetime of pain, fighting & the blame game to have such love & support. The one person who means more to me in this great big world we live in is my 2-year-old niece. She is truly the love of my life. She makes me laugh more than anyone I have ever known. She is beautiful & brilliant & no I’m not just saying that because she’s my niece, it’s true. Skype is a great helper to stay in touch & allow us to “see” each other, but I can’t hold her, tickle her, kiss her, chase her. I think of & miss her every single day I am not with her. My baby sister, who I adore as much as her daughter, is getting married this August. Knowing that I won’t be there for 80% of the planning for this event breaks my heart. We had a long conversation about this however & she made it very clear that she would be angry at me if I gave up my plans to move to Los Angeles. It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make. I hope with everything I have in me that this marriage lasts for the rest of their lives, because she deserves it & is VERY loved by her fiance’, my brother-in-law-to-be. He is a wonderful, loving & sweet addition to our family. Besides, he makes a beautiful child with my sissy.

Friends…….oh the space I could take up writing about my love for my chosen family, which is what I call them. The majority of these bonds were formed when I was at the end of my teen years, when life was so unbearable for me that I was rarely sober for any waking moments. What we have gone through together over the course of 20 years wouldn’t fit in a single blog, unless I wanted it to be 25 pages long. We grew up together, our “crew”. While we may not see or speak to each other nearly as much now that we’ve grown, with some marrying & starting families, others carving out careers for themselves, but we’ve never lost our deep connection & are always there for the important moments in life. I hate to say this, but Facebook has been very helpful in keeping us connected when life gets in the way. I have also formed some very strong bonds with people I have met along my journey through this beautiful country of ours. Mine is an amazing life. I have what I consider to be the best job in the world, unless you wanna be involved in a serious relationship. Sure, I’ve had “friends” in cities around the country, who I find comfort & affection in while I’m visiting, but that starts to feel empty after a while. These tour friends, ones I’ve worked with, or whose paths I’ve crossed while staying in their town, have become a part of my chosen family. It’s wonderful how many lovely people there are in this world & I am blessed to have met so many of them. I have the unusual ability to make friends with just about anyone I meet. What can I say, I’m really good at my job. I am overjoyed when I find out I will be spending time near certain road friends, as I enjoy them SO much.

Now, Los Angeles……I have said before & been told by others that this place can really put your dedication to your dreams to the test. It can make or break you. Most of the time, this is up to us. I learned that last statement from a new friend who pointed out to me that we make this place our own personal heaven or hell. I don’t believe in religion, but the analogy fits perfectly. Since he said this to me & opened my eyes to the idea, my life here has been so much more positive, happy & enjoyable. To be fair, I have friends who live here. They are amazing people & I love them. I don’t see them often, due to their busy work schedules. When I first moved here I had a very busy work schedule as well. I believe I have mentioned in an earlier blog that I moved out here for a job that didn’t work out. That was sad & difficult to deal with at the time, but I made the choice to stay here & fight it out. More than likely I will have to return to the road. It’s not that I don’t love it, I do. I’ve just gotten to a point where I would like to stand still for a while, maybe meet a guy to hang out with. The ability to do this is while living your life away from home for months at a time is made extra difficult when you are a woman. For whatever reason, men have a much harder time accepting a woman traveling for work, as if we are somehow less capable of controlling ourselves to the power of other men. I believe the reality of the situation is that the men don’t trust themselves in that type of lifestyle & project this fear onto the women in their lives. I have said this many times & I stand by it. I truly am comfortable enough with myself to be single. I like me & enjoy my own company. I have done many things alone that most people wouldn’t think of doing. It’s fine. I would, if I’m to stick to my full disclosure promise on this blog, prefer to find someone to look forward to seeing, to come home to, to be home for someone, to laugh with, explore with, cook with, watch movies with, etc.

There are so many thoughts that run through my head when I think about this topic, such as the thought that I chose to move to one of the most shallow places in the world to call home. I’m not sure my quirky style & look will be as appreciated here as it is in other cities. Also, with men insisting on dating younger “girls”, I don’t see me being comfortable or interested in dating someone pushing or already having passed 60. Lastly, this “cougar” phenomenon holds no appeal to me. I’m not down with dating 20-something boys, the idea makes me cringe. I do have friends who have found love with guys in their 20’s & I am profoundly happy for them, but it’s just not for me.

I am a firm believer that one shouldn’t actively look for love. If they do, they will miss it at every pass & settle for less than they deserve, only to have it end ugly as it always does when you make a choice based on loneliness and not attraction, connection & chance.

What am I gonna do about all this you may ask? Well, nothing really. I will continue to live my life. I will keep searching for work that keeps me a bit more stationary. I will more than likely continue to tour some, because I love it, probably not for 3 or more months at a time anymore though. I am ready for love & companionship. This is me releasing that thought out into the universe to do what it wants with this.

Hopeful still

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Real Life, Single Life, Travel, Writing

As Tears Go By

Ok, so…..I’m not a big watcher of television, it’s pretty empty to me, however there are certain actors & certain content that I do enjoy. There is a new show this season on NBC, I think, called Parenthood. It starts Peter Krause & Lauren Graham. I am a fan of Peter Krause from Six Feet Under, which is one of my favorite all time shows. I like Lauren Graham for many things, but mainly, I really liked Gilmore Girls. I can’t explain it, I just liked it, whatever.

So, I have watched episodes of Parenthood on Hulu & by the end of EVERY SINGLE EPISODE I am crying my little crybaby eyes out. I know why this is, I just don’t talk about it, ever. I am pissed, jealous & upset that I have never been the girl who got married & had kids. I’m not sure this is something I did on purpose, well, a few times it was on purpose. I’ve been afraid of everything all my life & it seems I have scared myself out of true love, marriage & children. I’ll just add it to the list of things I never had the nerve to do. That is SUCH a long list & I hate it! I hope to burn it one day.

I’ve gone through a tough time lately. I know this is obvious to anyone who knows me or reads this blog, all 10 of you. lol There are multiple reasons for this, some that I’ve already written about, some I haven’t & some I never will.

I am mourning the loss of so many people that I have honestly lost count. That’s a sad thought within itself. In the last 6 months alone I’ve known 3 people who have passed away from very similar problems. They all died from bad hearts. 2 were Congestive Heart failure.

1 of them was my grandfather, who I barely knew, but he was a wonderful man. I literally found out that he passed away because my step-mother reads to obituary’s & saw his name, saying something to my dad, who then called me. I just sat in silence while he talked, didn’t cry. I was with my younger brother, who’s only 22 & never knew him, so I didn’t want to get upset in front of him, because he worries about me, in that cute, protective brotherly way. It was March 18th, 3 days shy of his 84th birthday. With his second wife they had 7 children, who all grew up to be happy & successful people, because I  believe, they had a loving & nurturing family. I’ve been alive nearly 40 years, I could have had 39 years with this man, but I didn’t because the cross-family conflict ran too deep for me to EVER understand. All I know is that I was the biggest victim in all this conflict, well me & my dad, but he helped perpetuate it once he was an adult. I never did. I always wanted to know him, as well as my 7 Aunts & Uncles & my 18 cousins. I had a little under 2 years with him from 12-14 & I just LOVED him. I was just instinctively like him & that was so weird to me, because I have a hard time comprehending a close & loving family connection. Yeah, I’m close to my parents NOW, but that’s only been in the last 5 years of my life. I wish I could have known the man his 18 other grandchildren called papa. I wish for my dad that he could have felt loved by his father, maybe then so many things would have been different. Luckily for us, I broke our family cycle, someone had to. I wrote an entire blog about him after his passing if you want to know more about our story.

The second person who passed away from Congestive Heart Failure was my friend Kevin, 6 months ago. He was 42 & had a 12-year-old son who adored him & he adored right back. I knew Kevin for 20 years & he was a really wonderful, funny, sarcastic, talented & beautiful soul. He was like me in some ways, sarcasm being the prevailing similarity. He was always struggling to make ends meet, often found himself out of work, never had money saved. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Kevin struggled his entire adult life. He was stressed a lot of the time. He didn’t get nearly enough joy in his life before his heart gave out on him. That just doesn’t seem fair to me. I wish he was still walking the earth, spending quality time with his son, playing guitar, cooking delicious food, smiling, laughing, making fun of people, breathing. I wasn’t able to make his memorial, which was a sad affair for a few reasons, the obvious being his age, but also that his family refused to pay for a service & so his friends had to scramble to put something together. Luckily, someone knew a person whose family owned a funeral home & they let them use it for free. That was lovely of them. His body was not in attendance though, because that costs extra. Dying is not cheap! Anyway, I was still in Florida then & was struggling financially myself, so I couldn’t afford the plane ticket up. On the day of the memorial, my friend Amy called me several times to fill me in on the goings on; who spoke, what they said, how everybody was holding up. It was one of those moments that breaks your heart, because you know this event is going on & you so much want to be there, but can’t for reasons beyond your control. You feel so alone, because you are not with your friends, mourning, looking at photographs, telling stories. You are all alone, in a state far from anyone who understands the pain of this loss. There were many tears shed that day & night. I still don’t feel a closure with Kevin, much like my friend Angelo who passed away from an aneurysm in January of 2008, which could have been stopped, had he gone to the hospital, but I’m NOT blaming him, I just selfishly wish he were still here, mostly for his children. I couldn’t make it to his funeral either, being in Florida & not being given enough notice to get back up here. Or Amanda, oh Amanda……my ex-boyfriends niece, who I really did love like a daughter/good friend, who passed away in July of 2008 of a heroin overdose. Her funeral was one I was told I was not welcome to attend by my scumbag ex-boyfriend, who by the way copped the dope that killed her & he’s telling me I can’t go to her funeral? Afterward, I was told & saw photographs of the tailgating party they were holding in the parking lot of the funeral home. No wonder this happened, the adults in her life were/are walking disasters in their own right!  Amanda was 17 years old & less than 8 hours away from leaving for Tennessee to clean up her act. She never made it to morning. I’m not now & doubt I ever will get over her death.

Lastly, on March 1oth, I lost someone who I cared about in a special, sweet & unforgettable way. I don’t & won’t discuss it in full, because it is precious & private  memory that most people wouldn’t be able to understand. He was a special person. He was, as one friend put it so beautifully…..magic. He passed away from Pneumonia & Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, which in lay terms is basically thickening of the heart muscles causing them to enlarge. He also had Coronary Artery disease, which is the build up of plaque in the coronary arteries. As I look at all these big medical terms, the only thing that comes to mind is that his heart was just too big & it couldn’t go on any longer. It’s like his heart broke & just stopped. I can’t express enough how much I wish this wouldn’t have happened, that he would have gotten treatment for this earlier in life or that the hospital could have kept his pulse, heart rate & blood pressure going once they got it momentarily stabilized, but his body was just done. It was done fighting. He may not have been done, but his heart was. He was only 38 & like myself never married or had children, although we both really did want that in our lives.

It is moments like this that cause me to ask myself why. Why do things like this happen? Why are some people SO blessed with a good & happy life, while others are doomed to suffer? A friend has a theory that I kind of agree with, but that’s between us. All I can say is that I hope my loved ones who left too soon find themselves in a happy & healthy life next time around. For my Grandfather (Papa, I guess) I hope he is enjoying his time with loved ones who passed before him & that he is looking over his wife & letting her know that everything is ok & he’ll meet her when it’s her time to go.

I am sad today.

I hope tomorrow to feel happier.

I have grief counseling in the morning & hope that somehow that helps.

1 Comment

Filed under Dating, Family, Friendship, Life, Real Life, Relationships, Writing

Fool To Cry

My grandfather passed away on March 18th. I found out when my dad called to tell me that his obituary was in the local paper. For most people with families, finding out about the death of a grandparent this way may seem odd. Well, to be honest, it is, but that’s me, my family & my entire life.

I did not have a close relationship with my grandfather. I barely knew him actually. This fact has always left a gaping hole in my heart, because the times I did know him I adored him & his entire family.

The reasons for my grandpa not being in my life were solidified before my birth. I had nothing to do with it, but for some reason it never felt that way. I didn’t even know he existed until I was 12 years old & I was forced to go to his house & meet him. My dad never asked me if I wanted this person in my life & a year & a half later, he again didn’t ask if I was ok with having him ripped right back out of my life. It was never explained to me, like most things in life when I was growing up, like my MANY step-mothers, moving from place to place & the list goes on & on.

When I met my grandpa (or as his grandchildren call him, poppa) he had been remarried to a very nice lady since 1953. Together they had 7 children, who were all loving, respectful & wonderful people, unlike the useless relatives I was forced to be around growing up. These people did not judge me, they accepted & loved me for the goofy, slightly odd kid that I was. I thought they walked on water for that! How awesome that they just liked me, I was the luckiest girl in the world…….until one day it was all gone & life just went back to the same scary hell it was before they were forced into my life.

I harbored a lot of anger towards my dad for this painful event for many years. The worst part was that he flat out refused to discuss the issue, or any others really, with me. This was when I REALLY began to act out & my life took a turn for the worse that I wouldn’t recover from for decades.

In 2007, I had decided that I had to contact this man who I had missed so much for so long. While in Florida for work, I looked him up, knowing he lived in that state. I found him within 15 minutes, thanks to the help of my mom, who was always very supportive of me contacting my grandpa, knowing that my dads perspective was incredibly distorted. She found & gave me his phone number. I stared at it for what felt like hours, but I’m sure it was only a few minutes & with my heart pounding & hands sweating I dialed his number. Of course he answered on the second ring, I gulped & said hello, I believe that I am your granddaughter Jennifer. He said that in fact I was & that he was very happy to hear from me. I asked if I could see him, but he informed me that he & his wife were leaving first thing in the morning to start driving to Detroit. I laughed at this, because I was heading back there myself a few days later & told him so. He insisted that I call him as soon as I got home at my Aunt Beth’s house, so we could figure out a day to get together. I think I cried for nearly an hour after we hung up. I felt so relieved & excited at the thought of seeing him again & he seemed genuinely happy to hear from me.

When I returned to Detroit a few days later, I again stared at this piece of paper with a growing list of phone numbers on it & got up the nerve to call this house, not knowing who would answer, what to say or how to ask to speak to my grandpa. When I called, my “cousin” Wayne answered & I asked to speak to Mr. Newton…..I didn’t know what else to say. When he got on the phone, he praised me for calling & told me how happy he was that I did…..wow, did my heart smile at the sound of that coming from him. See, for the longest time, I thought this family didn’t want me, what else would a 14 year old who was hated by & shunned from the rest of her family think?

He informed me that I would be attending a family gathering at my Aunts house a few days later. I love how he didn’t even consider asking me. I just said absolutely that I would be there & asked what time I should show up. I was SO, SO scared! I can still feel that fear when think back to that day. One of my close friends, Sarah, lived near my aunt & she offered to meet me outside there house & even go in with me if I wanted. I told her that going in with me wasn’t necessary, but could she please come meet me down the street to talk me out of driving away. The anxiety was nearly unbearable. I’m surprised I didn’t collapse in the car or on the street when I stepped out. Sarah gave me a wonderful pep talk & off I went to face my “family”.

As I walked up my aunts driveway, I was sure it was a half mile long. Seriously, it felt like it took forever to get to the backyard. When I was in eyeshot, my grandpa’s wife, Elenore, said his name & motioned towards me. As soon as he saw me, he smiled this big, beautiful smile, stood up & began to walk towards me, to meet me at the gate. As he embraced me tightly, he whispered in my ear “you look good, kid. I’m glad you’re here” I must admit, I cried a little at that moment. I also exhaled. He put his arm around me & proceeded to walk me around this HUGE circle of people that consisted of his children, their spouses & some of their children. My aunts, uncles & their spouses were incredibly warm to me. My cousins, well, that’s a very different story. They were upset by my presence & I have since learned they never knew I existed & were not warned that I would be there that day. They made their displeasure known to me.

When we were done walking around re-meeting everybody, my grandfather & I took our seat at the far end of the circle, near the house. He insisted that I sit directly next to him & stay there. Like I was gonna say no. We spoke a lot, about many different topics, including my Cherokee heritage that I was never aware of but look forward to researching! We also discussed the problems between he & my grandma, as well as the issues between he & my dad. I made it very clear that I wasn’t aware of anything that went on, but that I didn’t want to really speculate or speak on anyone else’s behalf. I could only speak for myself, the pain that not being a part of his family caused me & that I was so grateful to have reconnected with him.

He informed me on this day that he was suffering from Congestive Heart Failure. My own heart sank, because I know what that meant. It meant that he was limited in the years he had left to live. I was devastated. I had only just got him back. Damn, life really isn’t fair sometimes.

I stayed at that gathering longer than anyone else. I honestly didn’t want to leave my grandfather. His stories were so interesting & I just felt a strong connection to him & being with him was very comforting to me in a way that I still don’t understand. As I was leaving, having had so many family members invite me to upcoming holiday events, I had every intention of staying in touch with these people, who once again seemed truly happy to have me around. But with the way the grandchildren treated me, the fear & intimidation I felt by this big loving family that I didn’t understand, I’m ashamed to say I did not stay in touch with any of them, including my grandfather. I did speak to him one more time on the telephone, during which I told him I loved him. I’m glad I did, as it was the last time I ever spoke to him.

I decided to go to his funeral, to say goodbye & pay my respects to the family. I was so pleased that my dad decided to go with me as well. I knew that it would be so very healing for him & he really needed to reconcile himself to all the pain & emptiness he has carried with him for his entire life. It was awkward, but in the end I am glad that I went. I reconnected with my aunts, not so much my uncles, but that doesn’t really matter to me, as I never really felt I wanted or needed to be close to them. I also was able to meet my grandfathers brother & sister, who are luckily still alive. apparently I look a lot like my Great Aunt Jeanne & I look forward to spending some time with her & getting to know her better while she is still around. She’s really something else & I can see where I am like her. I also can’t wait to go down to Florida to visit her & look through her old pictures & listen to the accompanying stories.

I don’t really know what happens now. I am really sad that my grandpa died. He was a good man who told great stories & was an excellent barber. He was a loving & devoted husband, father & grandfather. I only wish I would have been included in his family, I feel my life would have been dramatically different had they all been in my life. I can only go forward though, so that is irrelevant.

Rest in peace Wayne…….you are loved & missed here

1 Comment

Filed under Family, Life, Relationships, Writing