Chapter One: Grandpa Paul
March 22, 2008, Cincinnati, Ohio
Grandpa Paul has always been a part of my life. We met several times throughout my 19 years. He was there at birthdays and the like. However, as I grew older I began to understand there was much more to my Grandpa than I thought.
Everyone likes to regale about his service as a high ranking government official, but I feel like that is to cover up some of the other things he did. People like to remember and regale about the good parts in someone’s life to wash away the bad parts…. especially when time is near. It seems to be so artificial. It’s like politely accepting a gift you hate. To keep up appearances… I guess.
Now… there has been a rumor that GP (as my family likes to call him) is gay. The rumor goes: when he was young, he had a stint with a guy… well several guys. Nobody knew about it until his former girlfriend (who he cheated on) threatened to tell it all. And she did tell. Whether if it is true or not lies a mystery. There was no evidence that GP was gay… just a rumor that has been passed on from generation to generation. For some reason it also turned into trivia question at every family gathering.
Then a talk on ‘values’ and anti- gay rhetoric followed. Then denial. “Don’t be like Paul,” they said. “Being gay is immoral,” they said. It was quickly wiped away; “oh he couldn’t have been gay, Margery” (my grandma- the matriarch of our family). “Look”, they said, “he led a pretty normal life with a wife and couple kids” (included my mother).
Being gay isn’t bad by today’s standards, but the older generation still thinks it is. But I cringe every time they have this talk. I am gay, and I haven’t come out for this reason. All my friends know, but not my family. Shit will blow through the roof. It hurts, but that reality. If it is true, Grandpa Paul must have felt so hurt.
Hurt because he had to lead this life and not stay true to himself. Like it hurts for me now. I want to find out the truth and if he is gay, tell him that it is alright. It isn’t immoral. To be himself. The problem is GP is dying. Time is running out. The nurse says a couple of hours. Days if we are lucky. I want him to die happy. I mean everyone deserves to be happy.
But, anyway, I am visiting GP tomorrow at the hospital and I will find out.