Continuing on with the grandparent theme, I am going to talk about my paternal grandparents. Robert and Ellen were, I believe, evil. I know that many people don't actually believe in evil, and instead point to upbringing or genetics. Whatever the reasons, I believe that some people are just plain evil.
The evil that was my grandfather was named Robert. I'm not going to go into pages and pages of examples of his evil, but I will summarize one here. When my father and his brothers were children, Robert would beat them. I have heard some horror stories in my life, but this man stands alone. He would come into their rooms while they slept, pick one of them up, and punch them in the face while he held them by the hair. He did not pull these punches. He did this to my father on more than one occasion, starting when he was seven.
Imagine, at the age of seven being sound asleep, then waking in pain, suspended by your own hair, as your father - the man who is supposed to cherish and protect you - punched you in the face as hard as he could. How could this be anything other than evil?
Ellen, my grandmother, was much more subtle. She practiced her evil ways by creating family wars. It wasn't until I was about 15 that I realized that she was deliberately causing fights in her family, whispering lies in her children's and grandchildren's ears, telling just enough of the truth to gain credulity.
In every generation, she would choose a favourite. She would treat her favourite like gold and all others like garbage. In my generation, the favourite was my cousin Rodney. When it came time for gifts, such as Christmas, she would by very different presents. I recall my 7th Christmas: the big thing at the time was Lone Ranger Action figures. She bought Rodney the entire set - everything. Lone Ranger, Silver, Tonto, his horse, all the extra weapons. Literally, everything. At the time, the value was over $200.00. Not bad for 1972.
I watched Rodney unwrap his presents with a mixture of envy and delight. Then Ellen handed me my present. It was small - about the size of a hardcover book (but thin). I unwrapped it, and it was the gun set for the Lone Ranger. Retail value: about 5 bucks. It might not sound like much, but that moment tore my heart out. While money should not be used to express love, in this case it obviously had been, and I was being told in no uncertain terms that I was not loved.
When my dad left us (I was 8), that was it for my contact with Ellen and Robert. They never - and I mean literally never - attempted to contact me or my sister again. Years later, after I had found my father again and was trying to build a relationship with him, I ran into her again. Apparently my stepmother was upset because Ellen (my cousin) had received a brand new ten speed bicycle for her birthday, while Lisa (my half-sister) had been given a card and $5.00.
When my father informed me that Robert had died, I just shrugged. My father got very angry at me, and told me that I was a cold-hearted person. I asked him how he expected me to feel. The man ignored my entire existence, and every story my father ever told about him contained horrific beatings. I told my sister Niki in private later that, as far as I was concerned, Robert had been an evil man, and the world was a better place with him out of it. Niki was young, and did not understand at the time.
Years later, when Ellen died, Niki took me aside at her funeral, and told me that as far as she was concerned, Ellen had been evil, and that the world was a better place with her out of it. She was old enough now to understand what I had meant earlier.
Robert and Ellen gave me one gift, for which I am incredibly thankful. They did not like me, and therefore they did not pay attention to me, and therefore they did not infect me with their particular brand of evil.