OT by a large degree: This day is a reminder of something more.

There is a certain emptiness that comes over me a week or so before this day.  Each year, instead of growing smaller, it seems to increase in size and rattles my heart.  

I had good grand parents; the best.  I had a best friend, she still is.  I grew up with love and understanding for all, thanks to my mom and dad.  Every January, just after my brother's birthday, my grand mother and I would argue.

It always started out with a simple and honest argument and eventually grew into a verbal altercation followed by tears and an interesting "truce".

My best friend is black, her family was like my family.  All her brothers were my brothers, her uncle was my uncle, her mother was an amazing mother, my mother.  Her father was like my father and very much like my dad.  She feels the same about my "white" family.  Her grand mother was just like mine, she loved me and she took care of me.  I was over often, stayed nights, weekends, holidays.  Her family, even her extended family took me traveling, taught me to ski, took me everywhere with them.

My grand mother was a non-admittedly racist bigot.  I never let her meet my best friend.  Never.  Every year I'd celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.'s words, actions and triumphs and failures.  Every year, maybe because I was so young, I tried to turn my grand mother around.  I tried and failed so many times it hurt.  It still hurts.

She saw him and everything about him differently.  "He was a trouble maker", "He got what he deserved", "I don't hate them all".  Sheesh, it brings up tears just typing this out.  "I know a few of them, they aren't all bad".  Oh, that hurt so much!

For most of my life, I refused to refer to anyone by race or colour or supposed nationality.  I had my reasons.

After each argument, neither side won.  I loved my gram so deeply and new she loved me that I had no choice, my heart had no choice but to stop.  I would drop the argument, not letting her think I was agreeing, just letting her know I did not agree.

My friend only recently found out, last year.  I had wanted to hide this from her and had done so for over thirty years.  I had told her that I was sorry she never got to meet my grand parents and she then asked me why.  What are you going to do??  Tell the truth.  I don't think she was hurt by it but I was hurt knowing that she knew such hate/fear/misinformation? existed.  No idea what made me think she didn't already know.

My gram was amazing, to my brother and to me.  We were lucky kids.  I'm not sure what made me think I could change anyone, let alone someone so adamant about something that made zero sense to me.  But, I do have an idea why.  These arguments often led to other subjects such as "why they never gave 'the blacks' that fenced-off land in the middle of nowhere, so they could be free there'.  Oh, don't act surprised, I can't be the only one with a racist in the family!  This was a good one, "I know three and all of them are on welfare."  *breath, Minkey, breath*  

It was only difficult almost all of the time, to "forget" and to try to "forgive".  I am honestly not there yet.  I've been working towards forgiveness for most of my life and it is not as tough as forgetting.  It is January, gram has been dead for a long time, I still have mental re-enactments of our arguments.  I don't get it.  I've tried and it doesn't come to me.

When my grand mother died, she held on to her hate for as long as she could.  On the last day of her life, after years of being the most cruel m-i-l any mother-in-law could ever be to anyone, she apologized to my mom. She held her hand and cried and sincerely, looked into her eyes and told her all the things she wish she hadn't done and what she wish she had done.   I wish she changed in other ways too.  I wish she would have never held the hate that welled up each January.  I like to think that is what happened, not because I had made such ridiculous attempts at changing her, but because she saw something in herself and the world that led her to a change.

I'm next.  I am the one who has to change.  My goal is to finalize my forgiveness so I can move on to forgetting.  I don't like to think that racism should be forgotten because we need to know how the world was so we can grow, ever forward, ever more loving and learning with an opening of our hearts.  But, in this case, I do want to forget.  I think that is a true forgiveness, forgetting the wrong as if it never happened.

So, even though my remembering has brought tears of emotional sadness, I'm going to keep trying to let it go.  I won't pretend it wasn't, I'll just see her as being the loving gram I was blessed to have.

Phew!  That took a lot of energy!!  Thanks for  being here so I could get this out and off of my chest.  I know my story isn't gargantuan but it was for me and somehow still is.

Posted 8 years ago by Minkey Subscriber! | Permalink


  • {{{{Minkey}}}}}
    Posted 8 years ago by Kridla Subscriber! | Permalink
  • Hugs, and this fell out of my Grandmothers mouth last week so....i get it....." Oh you have blacks  in your neighborhood, ...and they are right next to the bank...." Its not worth the energy, to try and get an 80+ yr old to change veiws they have had their whole lives, ive tried, i gave up years ago. For someone to change they HAVE to want to do it themselves, as times goes on attitudes change, hopefully these attitudes will pass, or at least mostly pass. Hang in there!
    Posted 8 years ago by Lyrical DejaVu Subscriber! | Permalink
  • Thank you Kridla and Lyrical Deja Vu!!!
    Posted 8 years ago by Minkey Subscriber! | Permalink
  • Awww you brought tears to my eyes. I think forgiveness is not forgetting the wrong but is from accepting the wrong in the person as being part of who they are. Everyone is an individual and everyone has regrets, guilt, incorrect beliefs etc. To me, forgiveness is accepting that you cannot change that part of who she was and that part of your memory of her but it was a small part of what made her "her". With this is mind I think you have forgiven her.....but you just haven't forgiven yourself for forgiving her because you feel you are forgiving something thats completely wrong and incorrect. But your grandmother was made up of many good parts, and you seem to have very fond memories of time spent with her. Her belief on race should be overshadowed by the rest of who she was.
    She comes from a time when race was considered very differently to how it is now. I'm glad it is slowly changing and we are becoming more accepting of people's individuality but I also know that many things have changed in order to achieve that. Maybe she was not ready to change the beliefs she learnt in her childhood. [shrugs shoulders]
    Posted 8 years ago by Talia True Subscriber! | Permalink
  • wow, you are super wise and perceptive! all that you said rings true to me.  thank you!!

    it is true, she does come from a different time.  she came from the darkness of the great depression, had to leave school so she could work to pay for her brothers' educations, had to put cardboard in her shoes and had been a severe alcoholic.

    I have forgiven her, I am just having trouble with it still.  to have it keep coming back is frustrating and it seems that I should not be angry at the memory.  but I am, as if I could go back and  fix it all.

    and, yes, it does seem wrong to forgive someone for such hateful feelings.  maybe that is why I keep revisiting it, to correct it and then there would be no need for forgiveness.

    I don't really know.  but it was so good to get this out!!  just me and my guy and my best friend know.  my family knows but they never tried to change her so they never got caught up in it like I did.  I also think that it keeps bothering me because I kept trying to change her when there was no need to.  she was who she was and maybe that is enough.

    thank you for your thoughts!!
    Posted 8 years ago by Minkey Subscriber! | Permalink
  • Minkey, my father was like that in some ways. Very racist. Especially against native americans. That there was at least 1/4 of his genetics that were native american only made his hatred so much worse.

    It was like Talia True said, he came from a different time. Different place too. He grew up where the "national" government and the "native" government were actively at war with each other during his lifetime, and into part of my own childhood. No kidding, trenches dug across roads 40+ meters wide, tanks, armed military presence, mines! It was scary.

    For me, it helped me come to terms with it, his hatred and antagonism, when I realized that it was rooted in fear from those childhood experiences. He was genuinely terrified of native americans, because they were linked exclusively to those war-like activities he witnessed. It did not make his hatred right in any way, especially not when he often acted on it and regularly said such hateful things. But it does help me with understanding his perspective.

    I can not say I have forgiven him, there was much else about him that makes forgiveness very difficult and I honestly do not care. Not sure I ever will. But I have gotten to the point where I can call up the few (very precious) all-good memories of him without the overwhelming emotion destroying the remembering for me.

    Sort of like trying in Glitch to remember autumn day, and it continually being over-laid with the memory of something terrible that happened on an unhappy autumn day. Now I can play just the happy parts, and leave aside the unhappy parts. I can see him sitting by the campfire with his guitar and deep voice, with me and my brother wrapped up in each other like blankets, just listening with everything peaceful. Nevermind what happened after, or before. Those few moments, they are good. I hold on to that, and let the rest go.
    Posted 8 years ago by Lorian Subscriber! | Permalink
  • Oh, Lorain, I am sorry he went through that!  And then to take it out on you and your sorry!  I don't know what it means to be in a war area, no matter how the battles are defined.  It must have been awful.  The only thing that could come close to my being able to comprehend something like that would be the way my dad was after Vietnam.  He was there early, he and 13 friends sign up and chose to go because, why not?  Long story short, only my dad and one friend returned, the one friend's hair had turned white and he wound up institutionalized.  My dad's terrors were...something else.  He strangled my mom's leg once, in his sleep; he hid in shadows "what are you doing behind the door, dad?" then he'd step deeper in and it was as if he wasn't there.  He was great, don't get me wrong, but seeing his pain is all that I can even imagine about being on a battlefield.  I wish no one had to experience that!!

    I do think in time you will be able to forgive your father, mainly because you "sound" grounded and rational when writing about it and you mention understanding.  I think that is such a big part, to comprehend what and why and not just how it leaves us feeling.  But it is how we feel that makes it so hard to get past it all!!

    I say I am lucky because before my brother was born, my dad issued an ultimatum to his parents, stop drinking NOW or never see your grandchild.  They did and we experienced a life long relationship with two wonderful people.  Granted, not the  drunk abusers of my father's youth, but people we were happy to know and love.

    If it seems odd that you are not ready to forgive yet, you're not the only one!!  After my grandfather's heart attack,many years later, he was standing at the edge of the swimming pool.  My dad walked outside and was overcome with a sudden desire to push is father in.  Gotta love my dad for being honest, raised me to be honest, too.  Still, it was so hard to think that my dad, my awesome dad, could have been so mistreated as to think that thought.  I'm not sure he is over it yet, we still talk about his youth.  I do think he is getting there though.

    Thank you for sharing that with me/us, it isn't always easy to say such, to write them either.  This was my first time writing it out.  It was actually freeing and was worth reading back to myself a couple times.

    And, last night I had a dream.  My guy, me, my dad, my gram were all there.  my mom was in the bathroom (I have no idea why!).  my guy and I had just brought groceries back and my dad was asking us to make lunch for everyone.  Gramma looked hungry and curious about whey we bought gooseberry jelly.  I have no idea why and woke up wondering just that.  Granted, I do like gooseberries...

    I wish you peace and the lightness that comes with letting go...
    Posted 8 years ago by Minkey Subscriber! | Permalink