Yesterday, I had to confront my 80 year old grandmother about her bullsh**.
I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence or that it’s a real thing in an adult’s life. My life…
My paternal grandparents were never in the picture growing up and my maternal grandparents moved to another state a few weeks before I was born (I was born and raised in North Georgia) so they’ve never actively been in the picture either. We would see them a couple of times every year, each visiting the other, but when they came to visit us, it was always only for a short weekend and the energy was that they had things back home that couldn’t be left unattended for more than 48 hours.
When we were old enough to go away without our parents, we would spend a week in the summer at my grandparents and we had a good time but as an adult looking back, I realized that my grandparents never took off work during that week and would drop us off at day camps or leave us home alone or with my teenage uncle (he was an unexpected later in life baby). When my grandmother stopped working, she’d be home with us but she was more interested in the boys they fostered than engaging with her actual grandchildren. I would spend my days playing outside, reading books or watching TV. I was happy to do that. Unfortunately, I was often inappropriately left alone with one of the teenage boys she fostered whom my sister and I DESPISED because he was so perverted and creepy. His presence made our skin crawl. I won’t go into detail but if I did, you would wholeheartedly agree and believe it. He once ran up a $300 satellite bill from ordering porno while he slept on our couch… and this was in the 90’s! I thank God he never took advantage of any of us.
When my grandfather retired they moved further away from us to be with their obvious favorite son who had a ranch. They lived in the middle of absolutely nowhere- seven hours away- and eventually realized that a recently divorced man in his late 40’s is not going to spend his days, nights and weekends with his aging parents. My grandfather admitted that they had made a mistake and wished they could move back home to Georgia for the last years of their lives. They put their house on the market but he died of a heart attack before he could see that come true and it broke our hearts. All of the granddaughters together realized we had all been Papa’s girls. Our grandmother even remarked at his funeral that she knew we were especially sad because he was obviously our favorite over her. We grieved him deeply but also knew that his dream of being home in Georgia still needed to happen for our grandmother’s health and care.
She moved back to Georgia over a year ago and after the first few months of her grieving over the loss of her husband slowly diminished, her old habits started rearing their ugly heads. We grew up hearing a few bad stories from my mom about how horrible my grandparents had been when she was a child. We also heard so many people say that my grandpa was a changed man the instant he held his first grandchild.
I just realized there is a gaping absence of anything to that effect being said about my grandmother.
My generation in the family had heard the horror stories from our parents but let the record show that we said, “She’s an elderly woman now. It’s our responsibility to take care of her! Regardless of what she’s done in the past to you, we love her and believe she belongs home with us.”
SKIPPERS START HERE. Since she’s been back, she has showcased her true colors very strongly. As things have happened, slowly my mom and her siblings have let stories trickle out from their childhoods that mirror her current behavior. Stories of a narcissistic manipulative woman who would probably talk shit behind Billy Graham’s back if she’d ever met him. Lies, using money as a weapon, successfully pitting family members against one another and the straw that broke the camel’s back, talking shit about her granddaughter (ME) because she had to wait FIVE MINUTES as I rushed off from work to pick her up from a doctor’s appointment. She had lied and told multiple people that our entire family should be ashamed of how we treat her and that I had made her wait for an extremely long time.
I called her and confronted her with hearing about this from more than person. She said they were lying. I asked her why that group of people would all agree to tell the same lie. Only she and I were present that day, how could they even know what to lie about? Then, she burst into tears and accused me and the rest of our family of never loving her. I told her to stop with that crap because we obviously loved her. We’ve all tried our best to help her out but we also have jobs and lives we have to take care of and can’t always match her timeline. I felt used and like a pawn. I told her it had broken my heart that my only grandmother would talk badly about me behind my back and I was not going to tolerate it. I told her I did not call to upset her but came to her in love to acknowledge I was aware of what she’d done and I was not going to let it fester and talk badly about HER behind HER back. I tried to wish her a good day but she had already hung up on me.
Guys, I felt like a HUGE jerk all day long. I’m not a perfect person but I do wish I could love like God loves us. I failed.
Here’s the thing, though… I also felt like the huge elephant in the room was told, “NO MORE PEANUTS” and could feel the fresh air as the beast began taking very slow steps out of the door I had just opened.
For my entire life, I have been witness to my grandmother talking horribly about other people. Calling people fat, ugly, trash and even called her own sister pure evil. I had immaturely laughed about it, though. I only saw her a few times a year and it didn’t matter. Oh, my grandma is such a trip! Crazy old lady! You stop laughing when it starts involving you. Being a pretty responsibly adult, I realized how awful and NOT NORMAL it is for your grandmother to be such a nasty person. I saw areas where it had trickled down into my mother’s life, into my sister’s life and into my own life and I will not stand for it.
Even if you’re an 80 year old bully.