A few months ago, my grandfather died. I hadn't known him very much, but still this had been a relative, so I went down to the funeral. At the funeral, I was incredibly confused. I wasn't sorry that this man was dead, more sorry that my own father had lost someone.
You see, my father was never close to his parents. Before he had left high school, my father had started taking care of all his own meals and clothing, just so that he wouldn't have to rely on his parents for them. They were, to put it bluntly, terrors. My grandmother is an immensely a narcissistic woman.
I will illustrate. When my grandparents wanted to go to a new condominium, they needed to have approximately 10,000 dollars in the bank that they didn't have. To get it, they went to my grandfather's brother, who was far better off than they were. He gladly lent them the money. They didn't need to keep up the balance, but they needed it to initially rent the condominium. After they had their new home, my grandmother decided that she didn't want to give the money back. Her reasoning was simple. "Your brother has enough money." Though my grandfather eventually convinced my grandmother that, yes they did have to return the money, there is no doubt in my mind that she still believes she was in the right.
To accompany my grandmother's narcissism, there was my grandfather's ability to do nothing as this woman terrorized her children. He never spoke up against her, never confronted her on the subject, stayed at her side, a loyal soldier in the war against his own children.
The bible says that one should honor their parents, but does this imply that we have to imply all of our ancestors? Or simply our genetic progenitors? Does honor our parents mean to show honor to those who raised us?
My answer to these questions was simple. To honor my father, I grew to despise his parents. For my entire childhood, I remember wondering how it was that these people could have hurt my father so much. How could they be so cruel? These people did not act as parents to my father, but was it his duty to honor them? If so, was it my duty to help him honor his parents? These questions continue to haunt me.
And so, at the funeral, I stood stock-still. I wanted to cry. I wanted to feel bad for the loss of this man. My father's father was dead. I hadn't seen the man in five years. He had skipped my Bar Mitzvah due to his wife's anger at my mother. (My grandmother had requested a chair to be returned to her. This chair had been her wedding gift to my parents, but now, she wanted it back. My mother had refused.) But I couldn't feel anything. Quite the opposite, I was jovial. This death had brought me in contact with my uncle Seth, who I hadn’t seen since I was thirteen. I met my new cousin, who described her self as being "four and a quarter". This death had brought me more joy than pain.
And so, I am left wondering. Am I a bad son for not feeling pain? Did I act rightly? I don’t answer these questions because quite frankly, I'm not sure that answers exist. However, I must continue to search for the answers. If not, I know I am in fact failing in my duties as a son.