Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Truth Being Stranger Than Fiction

My grandfather survived WWII. Found dead in his London, England home. Alone, he'd been murdered. No-one was surprised because he was a bit of a bastard. He'd been dead for 12 weeks. No-one missed him. Except me. But then, to my mind, I'd never met him.

The post man found him. No longer able to stuff letters in through the letter box because the pile was too high, he remarked to a neighbour that there was an odd, disturbing smell coming from inside the house. The neighbour concurred...he'd not seen Peter or his Doberman dog in a while. The police were called. The dog had died of starvation but had eaten most of the house trying to live.

Grandad and I began our relationship when I was 10. That's my understanding. of this history. His history of us began just after I was born. We lived with him for a spell when I was a toddler in Richmond (England.) My mother, the only time that she speaks fondly of her fatherinlaw, says he called me his "Poppet" and was always trying to give me "sweeties", that he called "Minnies".

Our real relationship began with a letter. Grandad handed the letter to my parents at the funeral of my Uncle. My dad's brother had succumed to Cardio Myopathy at the tender age of 26. Estranged from the entire family, my grandfather showed up at the funeral with body guards, fearing for his life. Afraid that my father, or someone else in the family, would reap vengeance on him for his misdeeds and violent past, he came prepared.

It was the first letter anyone had ever written to me. Solely to me.

Whether I lived in the same country as him or not, he always wrote to me on airmail stationary, blue and wafer thin. Almost like onion skin. His name and address were embossed in the top left corner of the paper. As his paranoia worsened, our letters became invisible. I was 17 when he sent me the blue/black light and invisible ink pen. He told me in BOLD LETTERS that our continued correspondence must be written in this ink, so that no-one else could read it. He was teaching me the ways of F.R.I.

Over the years, beginning at about the age of 12 (just shortly after we moved to North America) he sent me books. Every single book was highlighted in two colours. Underlined in RED meant DO NOT HEED; IGNORANCE!; FOOLS!; UNTHINKING!!! sort of things; underlined in GREEN meant YES!!!; VERY IMPORTANT!!!!; HEED!!!; BRILLIANT!!! He sent me books on just about every religion, political thought, history and literature. Every single book was marked. Every single book marked with my name for my specific teaching. I began to understand how my Grandfather thought and saw the world by his markings in these books.

He was the first person to teach me that learning is a lifetime endeavour.

Now don't be getting all mushy over the brilliance or insanity of this man. There was a reason he was murdered. He wasn't very nice. At all.

(to be continued...)

1 comment:

Foxxy One said...

I'm intrigued! Hope you are feeling better :)