I have eight grandparents – four grandfathers and four grandmothers. Thanks to a few accidental deaths, and one illegitimate pregnancy, I started racking up excessive grandparents before I was even born. For instance, my maternal biological grandmother died in a car accident (did she fall out of the cab? was she pushed? no one knows.) when my mother was only two years old. My paternal biological grandfather knocked up my grandmother when she was 16? 17? No one knows his name, although my mother says it’s “Arthur.” First name? Last name? No one knows. I contacted the county where my father was born, and the only genealogical sleuthwork the librarian could unearth came in the form of a voided marriage certificate the year my father was born between my grandmother and a man named “Paris.” Apparently, back in 1920 (yes, 1920), you can’t get married if you’re only 16… or 17. My father ended up being raise by his grandparents, and three aunts – one of which was actually his mother, although no one told him that until he was 18.
Did I lose you yet? My family tree is this crazy, untamed, thorny bushed full of dead ends and unexpected off-shoots. Very Lifetime movie.
Needless to say, family, to me, is not exclusive to the people with whom you share bloodlines. This bodes well, I suppose, for Vegas, who will have no connection to his biological paternal side of anything. It doesn’t really phase me, since the grandparents I consider the most influential have no biological connection to me. They are people who stepped up as adoptive and step-parents to my mom and dad. They are caring, selfless people who I am very proud to call my grandparents.
Without going into gory details, the last of my eight grandparents got her two weeks notice last week, thanks to some liver cancer, and passed away this morning. She’s the woman who married my maternal biological grandfather, who passed away in 2002 from his own cancer. My sister and I didn’t even meet this pair of grandparents until I was about eight years old, when my mom tracked him down, (very The Locator) in the hopes of giving her kids a grandfather (since the other three had died). She’s a super tall, red-headed, sassy, Southern woman who married my granddad, but they never had any kids together. She never treated my sister and I any less than “real” grandchildren, complete with knitting us pastel-colored sweaters with kitties on them.
She was very excited to find out we were pregnant, and we had a long conversation sometime around Christmas, when she told me about how she always wanted children, but after one miscarriage, it simply never happened again. My wife met her for the first time on Saturday, when we drove about an hour away to visit her in the hospital, where they were offering pain control throughout her last few days, which were, obviously, fewer than we all expected. She was a delightful, truth-telling, gardening, family-loving lady who will indeed be very missed, and I’m extraordinarily proud to call her my grandma.