Grand taught me, what I believed, were two vastly contradicting concepts:
- Respect is earned
- Respect your elders
If you’ve heard me mention Grand before, you know already that Grand was pretty fucked up, twisted, and just downright mean, oh… and my legal guardian and the person who raised me. Grand was well into their 50’s when I was born, so “elder” was a term that had long applied to them and their respective “friends.”
Grand was great with kids. You really could not have seen a more doting, affectionate and adorable grandparent. Grand even got a small window of time to shower that affection on my own child before passing. I’m thankful for that. That unassuming adorableness is why the psycho behind those cute eyes was not seen by their own children for 30+ years.
However, Grand was not good with things that had an opinion that differed from their own, which means the older I got the less we got along and Grand was saddled with a kid who had the perceptive sobriety of a weathered judge, even at the age of five.
I had already been given the Respect is Earned speech before I got the second one. I liked it. It felt fair. I didn’t have to respect anyone until they earned it, and I had to work at earning it too. That was great.
Then Grand dropped that second one on me.
We had been having a discussion about one of her friends who always seemed to show up around dinner time, stuffing their gullet and taking a large doggie bag to go…. every day for weeks at a time. When they got a better offer elsewhere, they dropped Grand like a used napkin.
Grand had another friend who only called to make Grand run errands with them. Grand was oftentimes the chauffeur for various excursions involving hellish amounts of shopping. This particular one did not like to chit chat at all (Grand’s passion was running their mouth to whoever would listen) and would quickly leave whenever they were done using Grand for whatever it was they wanted. They were barely subtle in her hostility towards me as well. I don’t remember them ever saying anything to me without some sort of hateful tone to it.
There was a third one who liked to travel as much as Grand did, so they would occasionally plan trips together, to help lessen expenses. It was normally Grand doing the driving in our car and the friend was to arrange the lodging. “Arrange the lodging” was apparently a euphemism for “dropping in on whoever I know in that area uninvited and camp out.” When Grand realized that was the case (these people were entirely too polite to say so), trips with this friend quickly ended. Grand wanted to be “society” all their lives, and anything that seemed like a handout or charity was quickly and fiercely refused. Grand was humiliated.
There was another, a very very old woman who once told my grand that she never let anyone of color in her front door and went on some diatribe about how it was shameful for anyone to allow such a thing… worlds gone crazy, yadda yadda. Grand, for all the hell I give, told her off and that was the last time I saw her. I was pretty proud.
So, during this discussion about the Walking Gullet, I’m sure I made some rude remark. To which Grand very quickly responded “Respect your elders!”
I was silent for a while and pondered this, thinking through the above selection of people I knew that would be defined as “elders” outside of my Grand. My reply came simply enough, “Why should I respect people just because they’re old? Your friends don’t respect you, so why should I respect them?”
My Grand, turning slowly purple, never responded.
I didn’t see those people too much after that either.