My grandfather died today.  It’s a reminder of how complicated family is.

My sister called me crying (I was working, so she left me a voicemail).  I’m sure my mother is upset, but I got out of work too late to call her. 

I’m not glad that he is dead, but I’m also not crying over it. My sister remembers good times with him.  What do I remember? I remember the time he pulled me down the stairs.  I remember the times he or my grandmother belittled me.  I don’t ever remember them supporting me – I remember the time my grandmother was angry with me about something, so she pulled my hairy so hard she tore it out.  I remember he didn’t stop her.

I haven’t seen much of then over the last decade or so. Maybe a few hours on the off Christmas or thanksgiving (they always preferred going to some other relative’s house. 

They became strangers to me over the years. I left my mother’s house for good at 18.  I never invited my grandparents to any of my apartments, nor to my new house.  I moved far enough away, that dropping out of daily stuff was easy. 

At my mother’s request, I attended his 90th birthday.  He was a frail, tired old man.  I don’t hate him. But he was also a stranger (as were my other family members – I couldn’t even identify my cousins’ kids when my husband asked who they were). 

Family is complicated. My sister is crying, and remembering the “good” times…. I don’t remember being part of those times.