As you may have read, my grandfather (Big Dad) has been getting steadily worse after his fall, and they knew that it was finally just a matter of time. If you missed all this story, well, ask me sometime. Anyway, as I wrote, my brother called me the other day and told me he'd died, then later called back and told me he hadn't. So we were back to waiting.
Anyway, this morning, while I'm out at the ranch, my Mom calls. She tells me she's trying to finalize my travel plans, flying me out tomorrow. This came as a bit of a surprise, as I didn't know Big Dad had finally died. turns out that he died later that same night for the previous calls. So, they call to tell me he's dying, then he's better, then he's dying, then he's dead, then he's not dead...but they don't call when he ACTUALLY dies. Christ, what a way to run a railroad.
Now, I know I said at first that I would go ahead and go to the funeral, but the more I thought about it, the less I wanted to do it. Just a major pain in the ass of a trip, not to mention the time out of my life, for something that I don't need or consider to be that important. My presence is not pivotal to the planting of the remains of my grandfather's body, and I don't want to deal with the blood family that has so little to do with me, anyway. I'd decided that I wasn't going.
I told her so. A second or two of silence followed, and she said OK, she understood. For a change, with that kind of phrase, I really believed that she DID understand, and didn't hold it against me. That surprised me a little, but she really had mellowed out a lot in the last few years, at least enough to start to accept me for who I am, even if she isn't crazy about it sometimes. She asked if I would write a letter to my grandmother, say a few things, maybe some memories of Big Dad, and I said I'd be happy to. We got off the phone, and I figured that was it, easy enough.
Famous last words, eh?
5 minutes later, my phone rings, and I see it's Mom again. I figured it was actually my brother calling, asking why I wasn't coming. I answered...it's my uncle Dave, who tells me straight up that he's calling to change my mind.
Now, let me talk about Dave for a minute. Dave is Big Dad's oldest son (Dave Junior, in fact). Dave is a doctor, and his wife is a lawyer. Both of them were just past the hippie era, so they have that kind of non-aggressive attitude, mixed with the later sensibilities of making scads of money. They've never even raised their voices to their children. As you can imagine, it makes them come across as arrogant. For a while, it was just that, only coming across that way. However, as the money has piled up (and there's plenty of it, believe me), Dave, at least, really has become an asshole. People with a lot of money just get used to being listened to, and a doctor even more so. So, the arrogance has gone through the roof.
Hell, for the past few months, as this situation with Big Dad got worse, Mom was the one living there, taking care of the house and their parents, giving all her time and what money she could...and on a teacher's salary, that's not much. Dave said he'd handle the financial end of things, which was only right, yet any time money came up, he was a total tightwad, either trying to split the costs or just being generally stingy. I cannot count the number of times Mom has called ME, bitching about his miserly attitude.
To make a long story short, I don't think too much of him. Luckily, in the last 10 years or so, we've probably only talked twice, so it's not a big deal. Until today.
So, he's called to change my mind. Yeah, good luck. I told him my reasons for not making the trip. This began a 15 minute long convo about the whole thing. It started calmly enough. I even made nice to a couple things I responded with, saying that I wasn't trying to be argumentative. Dave, however, as usual, would not budge. Finally, I got pissed enough that I told him straight up that I WAS being argumentative, because I was pissed off at his attitude. He made a few statements about how I was being, and I called him on the carpet about that, reminding him that he'd had almost no contact with me for years, and thus could not begin to make assumptions about who I was, what my actions meant, and what was important to me. He continued to follow his assumptions anyway, made a few statements about "actions speaking louder than words", and started implying that my absence was a show of whether or not I "wanted to be part of this family".
Well, I could have said a lot of things to that, starting with his own actions lately speaking volumes. But if there's one thing I know, it's that arguing with Dave is futile, because he's too closed-minded to ever bother considering any other view but his own, no matter the situation. I thought about it for another moment and realized that I didn't have to be having this conversation. This jackass can babble until he's blue in the face, but I'm a free man, I make my own choices, and he can accept it or not. So I laughed at him. I laughed and merely said "You know what, Dave? Whatever."
He made a couple comments about my obviously not changing my mind (still arrogantly believing I would have, just because he wanted me to), and if that was how I wanted to live my life, then "so be it." Wished me luck in my life with the implication that this would be the last we would speak, and before he could say anything else, I wished him just as well, said good-bye, and hung up.
I fully expect to hear about this later from Mom or my brother, and that's just fine. I've said it to Mom, I've said it to others, and I'll say it again I'm sure: This is my life, this is me living it. You don't have to approve, but you do have to accept that. Hell, you don't even have to accept it, but I don't have time in my life for those that don't accept me.
My True Family are those whose respect I have earned and who have earned mine as well. Our bonds are the strongest that can be forged, and nothing breaks them. Just because I share some common DNA with someone, doesn't automatically mean that I have to kow-tow to you. You don't get a free pass because of genetics.
So, no, I'm not exactly hurting at being written off like that. If that's the attitude they choose to take, then that's not someone I consider family, anyway. I'm glad Big Dad is dead...I'd hate to have him really see what an asshole his son has become.