Grammy struggled to raise 4 kids on welfare. She wanted to go back work as a nursing assistant but could not find anyone to watch babysit. Then one day she met a handsome army soldier. She told him her sob story and he offered to marry her so she could get benefits and help paying for housing. According to Grammy she did not love Will and their marriage was one of desperation on her part. Will had 4 kids of his own from a previous marriage who came to live with them. They were newlyweds with 4 kids in one house. A small house. Grammy told me that she came home from work one night and found that Will had sexually assaulted one of his own teenage daughters just a few minutes before she walked in the door. I became very angry when she told me this because the obvious conclusion is that she stayed married to this man. She didn’t call the cops. She didn’t kick him out of the house. She didn’t leave him or divorce him. She stayed married to him and she stuttered when I asked her why. She had no answer. Grandpa died a long time ago, but I found this out just last month.
Will was the only Grandpa I knew and now I wondered how and why Grammy and my mother allowed me to go anywhere with him alone knowing how he was. I remember my mom always telling me to never sit on his lap. I lost about 2 tons of respect for these two women. But at the same time this news shed light on why Grammy and Grandpa were always fighting, never kissing or holding hands. It explained why none of my aunts and uncles came around when they grew up and got married. They got the hell outta dodge.
Through the years of their marriage, my mother said that Grammy cheated on Will with several men while he was overseas in the service. My mom remembers Grammy having several male friends over at all hours of the night. By this time in the 1960’s, Grammy was an alcoholic and using drugs to numb her pain and her guilty conscience. She had been fired from her job as a nursing assistant because she had become so overweight that she couldn’t perform some important duties at work anymore. She was discharged on disability and she was only in her 30’s.
While Grammy was ‘entertaining’ men left and right, she got pregnant. This is where the versions split. As a kid I always kept track of my grandparents’ wedding anniversary, so I always knew when they had 24, 25, 26 years under their belt. Well one year when I was 10, I realized that my youngest aunt had just turned 25, but my grandparents were on their 27th anniversary. I remember walking around in a daze all that day working the numbers in my head. All I knew was that this did not add up so I marched into the house and asked Grammy about it. My sisters were sitting there too, so they heard Grammy’s explanation.
She was raped. Supposedly by an old boyfriend who had come back into town and wanted to see her and see how she was doing. Now, I was only 10 but I knew she was lying. As she described this man, she verbally detailed his beautiful dark skin, wavy hair, and tall body. She talked about how white his teeth were and how he had dimples. She was smiling at one point. And this was how she felt when she talked about her rapist? Something wasn’t right. She claimed that she had gone to a girlfriend’s house to see this ex-boyfriend, at his request. She says that her girlfriend and her boyfriend were there and they were all having a few drinks and chatting. The friend and her man got up and went to the bedroom for some privacy. So, Grammy says she sat on the couch with ex and talked some more and then he became aggressive. But she described it like she was watching a movie, like it happened to somebody else. Her eyes were all over the place. No matter how she tried to cover it up, I knew that she had committed adultery. Yes, I knew what that was.
Grammy had the baby girl and gave her to her Uncle and his wife to raise, because they couldn’t have any children of their own. She says she gave the baby to him as a thank you for raising her and being there for her. I’m inclined to think that my Grandpa wasn’t having a constant reminder of her one night stand. Funny, since Grandpa did come back from service with an STD that had made him sterile. So, the baby stayed within the family and I grew up knowing her as my auntie.
Grammy and Grandpa seemed to hate each other. She was always bitching about something and he avoided being in the same room with her. I never understood it but now it all started to make sense. I never looked at them the same way again. But I still loved them to death. They eventually separated when I was 14. It was ugly and violent and the cops were involved. I witnessed the whole thing. They never divorced and Grandpa moved in with a woman who was his occasional mistress.
Without his income, Grammy struggled to live on her small disability pay and the checks she received from the state for me and my sisters. She got legal custody of us when my mom decided to go to rehab.
More about that later.