Original post: June 6, 2022
Updated: October 4, 2022
I caught myself describing their body language as a literal sound.
Jack’s “body language” was more high tuned than Rick’s who sounded like an OM.
As someone who also sees shapes around people, I wondered if those two factors could be contributing to my reading/ assessment.
It turns out yes, that is the case.
I’m shocked and need a minute … but also took a moment to realize HOW BIG OF A DEAL IT IS to have finally merged Talk Nerdy To Me, Lover and Talk Nerdy To Me™.
Content that isn’t just content, it’s my life stories and experiences.
Which can be described in one word …
Which is wild, because I JUST typed into Giphy the word “dynamic” …. and look whose work appeared:
Who as of a few hours ago just sent over the video that I’m slowly rolling out to social media.
It’s been very emotional and at a time when I am learning day by day exactly how much synesthesia shapes how I experience things and live my life and attempting to attach words to what those experiences are.
I literally march to the beat of my own drummer, light show, and textured driven existence. I see and feel things in a very layered way.
I was born with it, and I’m proud of that fact. It also makes a lot of sense looking back at how I approach things.
Thanks to this diagnosis, I see that now.
This is a story told from two perspectives. One from my 20-something-self who (spoiler alert) wrote it in my 20s, and now from the perspective of being my 30-something-self.
30-something-self: I am the product of two very historical families.
If you watched the latest episode of Hacks, (season 2 episode 8) you heard our family name …
My mother is a Hoar, my grandmother was a Hoar, my grandfather was a Hoar, AND MICHAEL SCHUR IF ANYONE IS GOING TO HOAR OUT THE HOAR’S ITS GOING TO BE ME.
I say it in jest, but Michael Schur included that in his show because he knows about our families. He went to my high school, and when I was 17 living alone in NYC, he was the only person that I knew … so logically, I successfully crashed an SNL after party AT. A. BAR. WITHOUT. AN. ID … to meet him.
He and I became friends after that and I’d link the post to it right now, but the migration of it didn’t transfer yet.
He was completely blown away that I not only got to him, but got my other two (also underage) girlfriends into the after party as well.
He asked about my family, and I told him I’m a Hoar and a Friel. (I mentioned all of the siblings and relatives in case he knew any of them.)
You never forget the name H-O-A-R, a phrase my grandfather on my mother’s side would say often (as he worked in sales).
For me, I never understood what the word meant until I was almost 10. I found it weird when we went to restaurants that my grandparents would use the name Collins, or Friel. Never their own name.
I also once welcomed the Farmington Valley Women’s Club to my grandparents lake house with a big hand drawn sign that read “WELCOME TO THE HOAR HOUSE” with colored balloons.
It was great growing up when someone on the playground would comment on “my mother being a whore.”
I’d thank them and go “yes, yes she is, and it’s spelled H-O-A-R.” I never saw anything wrong with the word.
At that meeting with Michael, I told him (proudly) that I had just been an extra in the Avril Lavigne Losing Grip music video. He asked who Avril Lavigne was, and I told him. That next week Avril made an appearance in the SNL Weekend Update as he was head writer at the time.
While the name Hoar gets whored out rather frequently, my ancestors were quite spectacular at speaking up when something was wrong, and getting shit done.
The Hoars were considered the Royal Family of Concord.
Here’s the book that says those exact words:
The Royal Family of Concord chronicles the lives of the most important family in nineteenth century Concord. Squire Samuel Hoar was a lawyer and congressman; he and his son were founders of the anti-slavery Republican Party in Massachusetts. Rockwood Hoar was a judge, US Attorney General under Grant, and a congressman. His daughter, Elizabeth, was engaged to Charles, the brilliant younger brother of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who tragically died just before they were to wed. She became the sister, assistant, and muse to Waldo and a close friend of many in the Transcendental circle, especially Margaret Fuller.Paula Ivaska Robbins
My aunt was the MUSE FOR RALPH WALDO EMERSON.
AND not only was my other direct descendant, Leonard Hoar president of Harvard, but the family was also SO hot like Hansel that when the French sculpture was deciding on who to base the John Harvard statue on, he picked my other homie, Uncle Sherman Hoar.
Here’s his pedigree one sheet:
Sherman Hoar came from a line of distinguished Massachusetts and New England politicians, lawyers and esteemed public servants. He was
- the great-grandson of Roger Sherman, a signer of both the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence;
- the grandson of Congressman Samuel Hoar;
- the son of U.S. Attorney General, Congressman and Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar;
- the father of Massachusetts State Senator and Assistant Attorney General Roger Sherman Hoar;
- a nephew of U.S. Senator George Frisbie Hoar; and U.S Representative George Merrick Brooks;
- the cousin to Massachusetts Congressman Rockwood Hoar.
Why the name Rockwood Hoar has not been used in porn is beyond me.
I’m really surprised in the Social Network they got the name wrong on such well documented facts. (The scene begins at 32:44.) Daniel Chester, who they mention is the sculpture, and he had a modest career. After sculpting the John Harvard statue in 1884, he then moved onto the Lincoln Memorial in 1920.
I’ve known these facts my entire life.
I am proud to be born a Friel (aka For-Real) and proud to be born a Hoar (not whore).
My father’s family, was not as proud as I am and unfairly took issue with my mother out the gate (google wasn’t a thing yet, so they didn’t have access to the wealth of wonderfulness the Hoars are).
20-something-self: My grandparents never liked my mother. I don’t know why, or how, or whatever – but they were total snobs. My parents are freaks of nature. They met in grade school, got married, and have been each others ones onlys and everythings for their entire life. You can search all of the world and never even come CLOSE to the love that my parents have for each other. Just not at all possible … and trust, I’ve been out on 103 dates in 9 months – I can say with CONVICTION that it’s not possible.
30-something-self: Yay, that post came through and it is only impossible until you too find your person! Rare, but possible!
20-something-self: My grandfather used to say to my dad when he was growing up that he should marry a supermodel and not settle for less.
Um, grandpa, have you seen my mom? She looks like Lady Di (pre the accident) and is a total Betty (Tangent: She actually used to get stopped on the street after she passed. People swore up and down it was her as her hair was even the same length at the time.). My mom is beautiful. Why my grandfather sat there and did not see that is beyond me.
My grandfather was an INCREDIBLY well respected psychiatrist. Like so well respected Oprah’s BFF Gayle King interviewed him when I was a wee one. The man was brilliant, there’s no doubt about it … but apparently he had no idea how to fix any of his own issues.
So, my grandparents for whatever wackadoodle reason declared all out war on my mama, and told my dad that if they got married – they weren’t going to be a part of it.
Can you imagine finding the love of your life, wanting to spend the rest of your life with said love, and your parents saying they want nothing to do with it?
I cannot imagine what my dad experienced in that moment.
His brother and parents boycotted his own wedding because of his choice in partner.
Amazing start to a new life, right?
My parentals get hitched, and not too long after, my loverly brother shows up in this world.
My dad has 3 siblings, two sisters, and a brother – but my dad was the first one to actually pop out a kid.
My brother was this beacon of shining hope in my dad’s and my grandparents relationship. Suddenly when the first grandchild came around, shit got real, and they decided – hey, maybe we can get our act together and be a family.
They weren’t necessarily nice to my mother at that point, but they tolerated her, and she tolerated them since she loved my father. Besides, score 1 for my mom since she produced the first grandchild – ANNNDDDDD it was a boy who could carry on the family name.
30-something-self: I didn’t understand the “carrying on the family name” when I was younger, but I see it very clearly now. It’s the term the heir and the spare. Michael’s children (should he have them), will carry on the family name Friel. I have chosen not to change my name professionally, but my children will have Jeff’s last name. My father’s brother chose not to have children, so no pressure brother, but the legacy is yours should you choose to accept.
The Hoars have the John Harvard Statue to their name and the Friels have the Great Pollet Arch. (Hilarious that neither has the actual name Hoar or Friel in it.)
Technically speaking in Ireland, you can’t “own” a national monument, but as a family you can own ALL of the land around it … which we do.
I didn’t understand the historical importance of having a grandson and passing the land down directly to him, but I did recognize the sound of assholes, and knew I didn’t want to be a part of it.
20-something-self: Oh yeah, did I mention that? My grandparents were like super rich. Like Connecticut type rich where people throw piles of money at each other for shits and giggles.
When my parents got married, they made it abundantly clear that my father would be cut off.
From everything. Forever.
30-something-self: Which didn’t end up being true, but it’s what they said at the time.
20-something-self: My dad being the fucking AHMAZING human being that he is, said fine. And walked away. That was a no brainer. He loved my mom so madly and so deeply nothing else mattered.
Like any newlywed couple they struggled at first; they were both in college, lived in a super small apartment and when my brother came along the finances that were tight to begin with – got FREAKISHY tighter … but my parents managed. I don’t know how, but I do give them a lot of credit for it.
When I was four, I no longer became Jennifer … they started calling me “Jenna” – and my brother became their number one grandson. At the time he was their only grandson – but it was a term of endearment that read like nails on a chalkboard.
On my sixth birthday, I remember running … not even walking … running up to my grandma when she walked into our house screaming grandma! grandma! grandma! and her looking down to me saying, where’s my number one grandson?
That’s actually one of my earliest memories. It’s just so vivid – she had MY birthday present in her hand, and I stood there … looking up to her – all 5’3 to my 3’5 – going, uh oh, this doesn’t feel good.
I didn’t cry – but I was just sort of stunned.
My parents didn’t ever greet me like that, nor did my mom’s parents (we referred to them as Grabey and Popey … don’t ask where those names came from. My cousin could not say grandma for the life of him).
It only got worse the older I got, and every birthday became more and more of a heartbreak. See, here’s another kicker – I was also born on my dad’s sister’s birthday. One would think a totally grown woman would be fine with that, but no … apparently in their world, I picked that day out of spite.
30-something-self: It’s even more strange seeing that written out, and being the age that they were at the time. I’d laugh in someone’s face if they ever thought a child “was born on a day out of spite.” It’s a ridiculous statement to make.
20-something-self: For birthday and Christmas they would buy my brother bikes, sleeping bags, tents, superly duperly fun stuff … I got Waterford crystal. I’m like 6, what am I supposed to do with that?
It was a terribly confusing time for me growing up.
I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with these things, a glass here, a vase there – I’m not even in double digits and you’re preparing me for a house that apparently one day I am supposed to have, yet I have no comprehension of even when summer is?
Oh and mind you too, the Waterford was when I was younger and when they pretended better to like me. One year I got a Disney sweatshirt, and a used day planner. I know it was used because there was a stain on the day planner. I went to the store to return it – obviously not seeing the stain and the guy just felt so bad that I actually got this as a gift, that he looked the other way and let me return it.
I was mortified.
Again, I know talking about all of these gifts and such does make me sound terribly shallow – but you have to understand how DELIBERATE all of this was. These people just did not like me or my mother … at all. But of course, this is Connecticut so they weren’t going to come right out and say that, they were just going to do fucked up passive aggressive things so you internalize it since at that point they don’t know about it.
30-something-self: This never had anything to do with me. I don’t even think it had anything to do with my mother, it was the fact that my father chose “his own way.” Not seeking the family “approval” went against the grain. His siblings would regularly ask “what are we doing on Friday night” to their parents as grown adults?
20-something-self: Tweet tweet tweet she would say as she bounced my brother on her knee … I would then run over, my turn, my turn! No Jenna. (THAT’S NOT EVEN MY NAMMMMEEEEE!!!)
December 8th (my birthday) rolled around every year like clockwork, and not a single call from my grandparents or my aunts and uncles.
Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!! What did I do so wrong?? Why don’t they love me?
Age 6 …
Age 7 …
Age 8 …
Age 9 …
Age 10 …
Every year my parents would hug me, not knowing how to respond to my hurt and confusion.
Was I a bad girl? Why am I being punished, I would cry into their loving arms.
Like pouring salt on an open wound, my brother’s birthday is 3 weeks to the day after mine, and EVVEERRRYYYYY YEEAAAARRRRRRR all of them called him to wish him a happy birthday.
::tape rewinds on the answering machine … play::
hi, it’s grandma and grandpa … happy birthday to our number one grand….. click. My parents shut it off.
I had YEAAARRRRRSSSSSS of lung expansion as a child.
I would run into my brothers room crying, jumping up on his big bed … Michael Sean, why don’t they love me? Placing my hands on his chest – what do you have inside of there that I don’t?
Wow … again with the tears.
He replied, I’m so sorry Jenny. I’m so sorry.
My dad tried having lunches with my grandmother over the years – and they just fell on deaf ears. She didn’t see that she was doing anything wrong, and had no idea what he was talking about. My father threw his arms up in frustration.
Then, came 7th grade. We at the time had been living in Bristol, Connecticut – but my brother was being a total butthead in school, and wound up having to go to private school as a form of punishment.
I, on the other hand, was student of the year, 1997 Chippens Hill Middle School (#GreenTeamStrong and award given by John Varrichione aka Mr. V).
I wanted to go to private school too to get a better education like my brother. If I’m the best at something, I thought, maybe I need to jump to another pond and test the water out there.
My parents were frustrated by the school system in Bristol, so they decided that it was about time the family moved.
30-something-self: I walked into 7th grade and announced to anyone who was listening, that I would not be here after this school year. One, that was correct – I don’t know how I knew that. Two, what was I on a “farewell tour?!” Who says that?!
20-something-self: Around that same time, my grandparents were looking to sell their HUUGGEEEE house in West Hartford for a more modest abode down by the shore. The house was in a bunch of magazines as it had been built by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. It had 98 windows, (I know because I counted all of them) a HUGE stone wall with a cave room, and the living room alone was half the size of a professional basketball court. That house was epic.
My grandfather being, well my grandfather, didn’t want to just up and sell it to anyone. He raised his family in that house! He offered to let his children buy it from him. Mind you, full price – but none of my dad’s siblings wanted it, or could afford it – I don’t remember.
Either way, the school system in West Hartford was ranked nationally at the time.
Not that I went to college, but I heard our high school was more difficult than most colleges.
My parents made an incredibly difficult decision, they decided to buy my grandparents house.
I was so confused when it all went down. We’re moving into … THERE?!?!?!?
I was excited to go to a new school, but I was definitely feeling super confused at the same time as to why or how all of this was going down.
I’m convinced to this day that my parents bought that house seeking some sort of validation, or hoping to repair some sort of something with my grandparents.
A few disharmonious months go by, as the energy in that house was horrible, and it is my birthday.
My 13th birthday.
Again, still trying to declare all of the previous years actions as water under the bridge, we decided to throw a family birthday party on my actual birthday, and invited my dad’s family.
I was in the dining room setting the good china on the table. I look over to my mom as she walks in, somber, quiet – the opposite a kid who is turning 13 should ever expect to see on her mother’s face …
Jennifer, I have to tell you something.
30-something-self: The only thing worse than your mother using your full name, is when your mother uses your first, middle, and last name. She didn’t call me Jennifer very often. I knew it wasn’t good news.
20-something-self: What, mom?
Jennifer – they’re not coming.
I stood there for a moment and didn’t say anything.
30-something-self: Do you know how EXPENSIVE it is to heat the living room in a home with 98 windows?!?! I was setting the “good china” on the FORMAL DINING TABLE … in the room that had heat on, which was a LUXURY.
20-something-self: My mom wrapped her arms around me … so hard … and held me … so tight.
Every. last. one. of. them. stood me up.
Tears stream down my mom’s face as she whispers in my ear, I am so sorry baby. I don’t know what is wrong with those people – but I will never EVER let them hurt you again. Her voice progressively got louder the angrier she got – THIS IS IT! She pulls away, I HAVE HAD IT WITH ALL OF THEM!!!!! THEY CAN GO TO HELL FOR ALL THAT I CARE!!!
I stay strong for my mother and say, it’s okay mom. You guys are here, I have Michael Sean, the dogs – it’s a great birthday … I struggled to smile, but was eventually able to force one out.
Both of my parents approached me at that point as they hugged me and told me just how much they loved me.
I excused myself for a moment, and said I was going to use the restroom.
I walked over to the library, and into the little bathroom. (You could take a pee and wash your hands at the same time. Smallest. Bathroom. Ever.)
I look up at the sky, as I open my mouth, but completely incapable of articulating a single word … WHHHHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!
Tears ran down my face. I wasn’t even sniffling- these were more involuntary expressions of anger that escaped my soul.
I composed myself as best as I could as I was genuinely getting sick and tired of my parents continually feeling sorry for me. I blew out the candles, and excused myself from the table thanking my parents for the lovely birthday, but saying that I was tired – and should really rest up for school in the morning.
I crawled into bed, and wondered why I was even born. Every year, the same thing – why? What did I ever do wrong? Please just tell me, I’ll fix it, please tell me, what did I ever do wrong?? Why … just … why was I even born?
My parents tried so hard to give me and my brother all of the opportunities in the world, yet the one thing … the ONEEEE thing their daughter wanted more than ANNYYTHIINNNNGGGG in all of the world, they couldn’t give.
At that point, they both decided to give up.
30-something-self: On that birthday, still in the normally cold formal dining room, I said I was done. I saw how controlling they were, and I wanted nothing to do with it.
The saddest part in scenarios like this is that everyone else ends up taking on their own issues from it. I internalized, and I can’t tell you what or how my father, mother, and brother dealt with it because we rarely talk about it. It’s too painful and only brought up with a preface on what is about to be mentioned. From my perspective, it gives power to shitty people who don’t deserve it. I can’t and won’t speak for anyone else.
My parents raised me with the awareness that it’s our job to be caretakers of the land. The land all around this massive rock of great historical pride that also placed a massive rock in between the four people who cared the most for doing what was right.
I stated very clearly that I never wanted to see them again. A birthday wish that was granted.
20-something-self: I remember waking up the next morning, and felt like a used tissue. No actually, tissues have lotion on them, and can be quite soothing … I was more like sanded down sand paper. Just sort of there, and emotionally a complete fucking wreck.
I hate my life.
::Flash forward two years:: The doorbell rings.
I looked through the peep hole, and am shocked at what I see … it was my grandfather.
At that point we stopped all contact. Like all contact.
I take a step back from the door, completely, totally, and utterly shocked – my grandfather is … here?
I open the door, not angry, not sad, just shocked.
I look him in the eye, and say hi, kind, but still searching for something.
Hi, he says. Is Michael home? (My dad is also named Michael – so it was entirely possible he was asking for my father … but again, this was the middle of the afternoon during the week … so prolly not.)
I SLAMMMM the door. Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?! Your granddaughter that you haven’t talked to in two years, the granddaughter that you emotionally tortured for practically her entire life greets you in a NEUTRAL manner … not angry, not anything – just NEUTRAL … you don’t even ask how I am, YOU ASK FOR MY FUCKING BROTHER?!?! Why didn’t you just ask for your number one grandson you fucking asshole?!?!!
I start crying as I run to my brother telling him grandpa was here. He was watching TV in the library, and he goes – wait, what?! YES! HERE!
My brother goes to the door, as I threw myself onto the couch declaring defeat on my emotional stability. What do these people want from me? What did I ever do to them? Just leave me alone, please just go away. Just go awwwaaayyyyyyy! I scream into the couch cushion.
My brother comes back and attempts to console me. Jen, he goes, grandpa thought you were my girlfriend. You’re grown up, he just didn’t know.
My grandfather looked his own flesh and blood in the eye, and didn’t recognize me.
My brother informed him of his mistake, but the damage was done.
::dramatic music:: The damage … was done.
A few more years go by, I graduated from high school, and I still didn’t speak to anyone in my dad’s family. I had been working at a modeling agency at night teaching classes, and in the morning working at Starbucks at Bishops Corner to earn some extra money for NY – as I was planning on moving there in a few months.
One day while working the front counter, I notice two women walking in – one of whom looked familiar.
I squint my eyes wondering if I magically got transported to the Sahara and am merely seeing a mirage. I stood there motionless – shocked and stunned.
OMG it’s grandma. This is happening in MY starbucks!!! The one I WORKED AT in WEST HARTFORD!!! She doesn’t live here anymore, omg, what to do!
Quick busy work – none. Quick – grab co-worker.
Brian, the guy I had that shift with – was on break … I can’t leave … I can’t move … she walks closer.
Nothing came out of my mouth … at all (thank god she wasn’t a secret shopper).
She proceeds to order her tea. I say nothing – my jaw dropped … I ring up her order, my hands shaking as I touch the computer screen.
I reach out to collect her $1.48 searching in her eyes for a hint of recognition … nothing.
30-something-self: Guys, remember when Starbucks had an item that cost $1.48?
20-something-self: She grabs her tea and turns away continuing her conversation with her friend.
I take two steps backwards from the counter. I turn … I don’t walk … I RUN into the back and scream, CHRIS (our manager) I’M ON BREAK. I run out the front door, and run next door. (at the time my brother worked at the dry cleaners next door.)
I stand in the door way in my green mocha stained apron sobbing.
What’s wrong, Jen?! Did something happen?!
I break down even further barely even able to get the words out of my mouth. Grandma is next door, and she didn’t recognize me.
My brother takes the position he knew all too well, as he wraps his arms around me and I sob so hard into his shoulder.
I am so sorry kiddo. Shhhhhhh, he consoled. My knees gave out and I fell to the floor. Crying. Crying. Crying. So hard. Who are these people?? I just don’t understand it.
My brother didn’t go next door, although I assure you if he had, he might have killed her. He was so UNBELIEVABLY fed up with their actions and their complete and total disregard for me and my mother.
Both of my grandparents had now looked me dead in the eye, and had absolutely no idea that I was related to them. None – a perfect stranger. Finally at least physically they were treating me how they acted towards me emotionally.
A little bit of time goes by, not quite sure the timing on that part … but either way, enough time had passed and we get a call one Monday morning in January that my Uncle Art had passed away. This was my grandfather’s brother – and he hadn’t been sick, hadn’t been much of anything other than awesome. He was a priest, and one cold Sunday he sat in his chair overlooking the ocean, after watching his football game – went to sleep, and never woke up.
Tangent: Best death ever!!! But super hard on the family since it was incredibly sudden.
We all loved my Uncle Art, terribly. He was the sane one among all of the madness that was my dad’s family.
Then, came time for the funeral. The first time that we had all even been in the same room together for almost 5 years at that point.
My dad’s siblings attempted to be cordial, but one can’t be too cautious with them, the second you’d turned your back their daggers were in you.
I remember looking at my grandpa – and he was no longer this 6′ something human being, he was frail and in a wheelchair. We were then told that he didn’t have much longer to live. Wait, what? I actually do think my parents prepared my brother and I for what we were about to see, but it didn’t register. It was literally like someone took my grandfather, put him in that machine from Honey I shrunk the kids, and said POOF! here ya go! I didn’t know who this was.
He was wheeled down the aisle of the church, and my jaw dropped. He looked so ill.
After the funeral, we went back to my grandparent’s house. They were actually living with my dad’s sister at the time, as his health had declined so much. I didn’t say a word to my grandmother. I can still hear her voice, Hi, Jenna.THAT’S NOT EVEN MY NAMEEEEE!!!
I remember watching my grandfather get wheeled into their house and I saw something in his eyes that I had never seen in all my life – regret.
He looked at me, my mom, my dad, and my brother – and saw a family. A very strong family, something that he had no part of.
I was very kind to my grandfather then. I don’t know why, but I just wanted in my heart of hearts to forgive him. He could barely speak as he was so ill, but his eyes spoke volumes.
This was truly a sad human being.
I kissed him on his forehead … goodbye grandpa.
He looks up at me with those soulful regretting eyes (you have no idea the sadness that was in this man’s eyes at that very moment. I’m totally choking up even trying to find words to write on this page right now … I have none). Here this man was who devoted his LIFE to helping people … and he turned his back on his own flesh and blood. His son. My dad without ANY help from him, raised these two children that were standing in front of him; we were totally composed, all grown up, and a very strong family unit that he was not a part of.
A few weeks later we got the call that my grandfather’s health was failing fast, and if we wanted to see him again, we needed to go to the hospital.
My parents asked my brother and I if we were interested in seeing grandpa before he died. There was no doubt in my mind at that moment that I needed some sort of closure on our relationship. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for – but I know I still hadn’t found it.
There were no lights on in his hospital room – just the glow from the hall outside. My brother and I walk over to his bedside. I ask, how are you doing grandpa?
He couldn’t respond at that point; he was conscious but drifting in and out of coma. I place my left hand on his right hand, and say that I loved him.
OMG wow, I am sitting here typing this a blubbery mess.
With all of his strength, he grabs a hold of my left thumb, and does not let go. To this day, I have very literally never felt anything like that. This man was barely even conscious, and he grabbed my thumb so hard, I was convinced it was going to break. I say that we have to go, but that we will see him soon. He squeezes harder. My brother looks at me, completely shocked.
I look back at grandpa, the light from the hall lit his face just enough for me to see that he had tears streaming down his cheeks. He knew, I knew, and in that moment, I couldn’t believe this was happening.
Why now? Why now do you do this?? WHYYY DID IT TAKE YOU SO LONG TO LOVE ME!!!!!!! You are on your deathbed!!! WHYYY!!!!!
I lean over and kiss his forehead. I love you grandpa.
My brother and I left the room, and that was the last time I saw my grandfather. My parents told us to go home, but that they were going to stay until he finally passed.
A few hours go by, the house phone rings – my brother answers it.
I hear him hang up the phone, and walk down the bedroom wing. Each footstep as it got closer and closer echoed. That hall was loud to begin with, but good lord – in that moment, I knew what was coming.
I was sitting down on the floor looking in the mirror. I don’t turn around, I look at my brother in the mirror, as he says – he’s gone.
At that very moment, the song Blurry by Puddle of Mudd played on the radio. Look at the lyrics:
My brother put his hand on my shoulder and asked if I was okay, I heard him say it, I think it registered since clearly I remember that bit, but I drifted away into the song.
He goes into his room, and I just start whaling.
I sought for MY ENTIRE LIFE for this man to love me – or fuck that, not even love me just RECOGNIZE THAT I EXIST!! Both HE and HIS WIFE both looked their own fucking flesh and blood in the eye, and did not recognize me.
I started smashing anything I could find around me.
I grabbed my CD tower and threw it to the ground. FUCK YOU. FUCK YOU. FUCK YOU. FUCK YOU. FUCK YOU. Why now? It would have been easier if I just didn’t have a second set of grandparents – why the FUCK did you care now? Literally MOMENTS before you FUCKING DIED!!! FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU. Why. Why. Why. Why. Why?
That night, like every birthday night from my childhood, I cried myself to sleep.
I don’t remember much from my grandfather’s funeral; I don’t remember saying anything to my grandmother, I don’t remember much of anything from that day – just that I tried to be there as best as I could for my dad. My grandparents and I may have had an entire life filled with differences, but right now, in this moment – my dad no longer had his dad.
I asked him how he was doing, he said he was fine. The saddest part is, I believed him.
30-something-self: Nineteen years later, on Halloween, I went to Miami Dolphin All Star Player OJ McDuffie’s house to pre-game before his annual event with his very lovely bride, Fran and their friends.
My parents were in Miami at the time, so I stopped off at the house before heading over to their place. While sitting in the kitchen, my father asked, what I would do in a particular scenario regarding the land in Ireland. Confused by why he was asking, but not what he was asking, I gave my honest opinion on what should be done.
On the ride over, it hit me like a ton of bricks WHY he was asking.
I didn’t walk away from that side of the family in terms of the land. I thought I did, I was very CONVINCED I did, but I didn’t. I know my father and he wouldn’t be asking otherwise.
<tangent> I really need to stop using that phrase after I’ve been hit in the head with a brick. </tangent>
All of these dots connected on Fran and OJ’s floor as they very lovingly comforted me in various stages of WHAT THE FUCK FACE … while in my Catwoman Costume.
See, a few years back, some very intelligent person in the family decided to lock up the access ways to the arch. In fact, multiple news outlets reported that “someone was chasing them off with guns.”
I don’t know what the impetuous was, but what I did learn is that in Ireland, if someone tripped and fell on the land and decided to sue, we the family would be the ones that were sued. So yes, while the arch is a historical treasure, it was also a liability for the family.
That I can see.
Would I chase someone off with guns blazing?
No, but this goes to show you the mentality of someone that would.
When I was asked what I would do in this situation, I also said that I would add in space for local artists to sell their goods similar to what you see outside of the Cliffs of Mohr (or outside of Venice Beach).
This would increase revenue for the local economy via permitted access (low enough to keep the cost of doing business for the vendors high, but also sparing enough to not have it turn into a three ring circus. Trust me, this family is good enough at doing that on their own.).
That did not happen, but baby steps … baby steps … the guns have been put away …
Now in terms of land, you then have to decide where to partition off the land that the city of Donegal now leases from the family. We’re farmers. So that land is farm land, and each piece of it represents an aspect of the business model.
The good news is, as of a few months ago, the Arch is back in business. I saw the lease that the city of Donegal sent over- which is super cool and if someone slips and falls on their way to the arch, it is on the city and not us.
Which considering one Christmas we all sat around and YouTubed what people do on the Arch … we stopped watching somewhere around seeing the drone footage of bon fires people had set.
I’m really sad that two families of such incredible prominence couldn’t find a way to harmonize. People see what they want to see, and my thirty something self is DAMN PROUD at my 13 year old self for recognizing it.
You are a proud care taker but also recognize when care needs to be taken for yourself.
High five, younger self!!
I love you! <3
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