Before I start…wanted to let you know I’m holding another sweepstakes to win an advanced copy of my new Quinn novel SHADOW OF BETRAYAL, due in stories July 7th (July 2nd in the UK under the title THE UNWANTED.) Details here.
By Brett Battles
This week my parents are up in Seattle visiting my mom’s dad. He’s going to be 97 this summer, and while he’s obviously been a pretty hearty guy, he’s starting to slowdown. Still, come on…97? That’s some pretty good gene stock to be from. Way to go grandpa!
Even more interesting? Until about 12 years ago, he wasn’t even part of any of our lives.
See my grandmother was a bit of a flighty gal, God love her. By the time she died, she’d been married 3 times. The man I now know as grandpa was the first. He apparently came around during a break grandma was having with her boyfriend, a guy she got together with again after grandpa was out of the picture. Boyfriend, a nice guy my mom tells me, became husband #2.
That didn’t last either. After he was gone, and this was when my mom was still a girl, grandma met and married the man who would stay with her to the end, the man that for many years I thought was my mom’s dad, not step-dad.
Husband #3 was one of those step-parents who insist that they come first ahead of pre-existing kids…in other words my mom. For some reason, my grandmother indulged him. Needless to say, he and my mom didn’t have the best of relationships.
For some reason, my mom’s step dad took a liking to me, and we bonded over a love of baseball, so I have nothing but good memories of him. But if you ask my brother and sister, their experience with him was much the same as my mother’s growing up.
Anyway, circling back to husband #1 – the man I now know as grandpa. It was the mid 1930s in Los Angeles…depression time. Grandpa was having a hard time finding a job, plus I have a feeling he could already read the writing on the wall, so he picked up and moved back to the northwest where he had family and knew he could get work. He did ask his pregnant wife to come with him, but grandma had no interest in moving out of L.A.
So that was the end of that.
Unlike these days, it was very easy back then to loose touch. And that’s what happened. Grandpa, who was a thousand miles away when his daughter was born, did exchange a few letters with my grandmother’s sister, but after a while even that stopped.
When I first heard that the grandpa I knew wasn’t my mom’s biological dad I was probably 15. My immediate reaction was, of course, surprise. Over the years since then, I’ve made the suggestion now and then that she should try to find her biological dad. For years she said she might, but I could tell she was reluctant, so I didn’t push too much.
Then, after my grandmother passed away, I got a call from my mom. She told me she’d hired a company that looked for people. Within less than a week they had an address for the man who had moved away before she was even born. We were all surprised that he was still be alive, it meant he was somewhere in his eighties…(turns out he was 85 at the time).
Mom hesitated again, just a little bit this time, but finally wrote him a letter. I believe he called her right after receiving and reading it. And the next thing we knew, he’d driven down from Seattle to my parents’ house in California.
To my mom’s credit, though she had some tough questions about why he never got back in touch with her, she put that to the side. It helped that Grandpa is actually a really nice guy, and easy to like. In the twelve years since they reconnected, their relationship, and all of our relationships with him, have deepened.
And, on top of everything, we have this really cool family story now.
While this probably sounds like it’s a post about my grandfather, what it’s really about is my mom – the life she had to put up with, the willingness to take a chance and reach out, the ability to put old hurts aside, and, ultimately, the decision to not let any of the bad stuff affect her outlook on life.
She’s been one of my biggest supporters, always encouraging my writing and anything else I wanted to try. In fact, and this is a true story, after they named me when I was born, she said to my dad, “Brett Battles…that would be a great name for an author.” HA! Hilarious, but true. I guess I was predestined from almost Day One. Everything I’ve become is due in large part to my mom.
Thanks mom, and have a great mother’s day!