It just hit me. My grandpa’s 90th birthday is fast approaching. My mother has been doing her motherly things and has planned a grand escape for the family. She rented a whole section of cabins on Lake McDonald in Glacier Park. It is one of my papa’s favorite places. All of the family has been invited to this big party. Both of her brothers and their spouses will be there, as will all of their children. I, the disappointment, will not. I am unwelcome.
My mother has made it abundantly clear that “he” is welcome but that I am not. She has also made it abundantly clear that I am a disappointment because I cannot come home. This has really fucked with me.
Family has always meant so much to me, especially my relationship with my grandfather. He and I are very similar and I feel like he has favored me a lot over the years, possibly because I am the youngest. My grandpa has given all of his energy to all of the grandchildren over the years. From attending sporting events to academic bowls, Papa could be found cheering us on.
He always has taken the time to ask how I am doing whenever we talk. He wants to make sure life is treating me ok. I have stopped calling him as much as I used to out of guilt and fear. See, apparently my name changed on Caller ID for people’s home phones. I know it’s weird that people still have home phones. I found out the hard way when my mom screeched at me one day for the name Alyson suddenly appearing on her Caller ID. I made the shitty conscious choice to make sure I didn’t accidentally out myself to my grandpa so the phone calls have become fewer and far between. Basically, calling my parents’ cellphones when they are with him has become my only means of communication with him.
I know my grandpa probably would love me still. I am just not ready to be the center of attention at his moment of celebration. Plenty of people have suggested I just show up and say fuck it to my mother. I love the sentiment; it just isn’t practical for me. I love him so much, that I would rather stay authentic to myself and stay away so he gets his awesome party.
I know everyone will be wondering where I am. I know his heart will be a little broken because I haven’t been home in almost four years. The last time he saw me was at another celebration, my cousin’s wedding. My mom will try to play down why I am gone. She definitely won’t tell them the truth. She has made it a choice to not tell my family about me. She has made it clear I shouldn’t either. I plan on breaking that rule in the coming months.
It has been a hard year for me since their visit. I was summarily dismissed as their daughter during their visit. I learned up close that all my fears over the years have proven true. My mom is pretty much a toxic abusive person. The hardest thing to reconcile is that I still love her.
Talking to her on the phone the past three weeks, she has changed a bit but not for the better. She has kept on me hoping that “he” would come home. That if I cut my hair, took out my piercings, and wore male clothing, that “he” could exist again. My mom has admitted that I am a woman in some ways. She has simultaneously complimented and put me down at the same time. The other week she asked, do people take me seriously with the body of a woman and the voice of a man? I do not have the voice of a man; she was grasping at straws.
She knows I am being myself and it pains her. I think because somehow she is not her authentic self. She gets on me about lying, yet I am plainly honest living my life as my true self. She also is going to lie to everyone about why I couldn’t be there. I believe she might use the “couldn’t get off work” or “home sick” lines.
I requested and got those days off months ago. Instead, I am going to treat myself to manicures, pedicures, some vinyl records, and lots of writing. I might as well live my life, not live a lie at some party.
I regret nothing. I love my papa and he knows this. My family will miss me and I them. I will make phone calls and talk to everyone. Sooner or later though, the truth will come out. I hope that my grandpa will know me before he passes. I just do not know if it will be before his birthday party in a few weeks. He would be proud of me knowing I am living a moral, authentic life.