Saturday, August 20, 2011

A man I never knew

Dear Eli,

Today your father's father's father died. You may wonder why I would refer to him as your father's father's father and not your great-grandfather. The answer is that he was this in name only. I never had a grandfather in this man. I don't use that name for him. You never had a great-grandfather in this man. He however is your ancestor. This is our story.

He, for the most part, is never talked about in our family. History has been rewritten. His name has been erased much like conquering armies would remove the names of previous rulers from the city walls they inhabited. Banishment came from the top. It has always been clear that I had freewill to make my own decisions. My option was never executed.

What could be so bad that this would happen? It can be a long story, but it comes down to this, When your Mimi was pregnant with me she got very sick. She ended up in the hospital and I was born weeks premature. My father's father never visited him, her, or me in the hospital. As the story goes he was upset about the name that I was given and that is why he never came. Your Paw Paw was very upset and let it be known that if his father was not at my Bris that he would never be part of his family's life again. As it is written so shall it be done.

This is just the first chapter of our Kodner family history. Other confusing painful stories exist. Other relationships altered. We don't need to get into all of it at once. This story is the keystone. This story will not be debated. This is the story of your father's father's father.

Sometime in the Summer of 1981 I was circumcised. The date is unclear to me. It did not take place eight days after my birth, but weeks after. I was too weak to have a Bris according to tradition. Your father's father's father did not attend. As it is written so shall it be done.

That's it. Thirty years ago a man so let down his son that he was never forgiven. In the rare occasion that his name was spoken of it was let known that he was not a good man. That he never treated your Paw Paw well. We were better off without him in our lives.

Over the years I can remember four events that my family attended that he was at. I don't believe I ever talked to him. I have no history with the man. He is the first one of my grandparents to pass. He is first person in your bloodline to go in your lifetime. It's sad he never got the meet you. This whole thing is sad.

Your Mom lost two grandparents when she was a young girl. She did not get to celebrate with any at our wedding. Growing up I only had two grandparents that I talked to. The fact of the matter is that I did lose two as a child. It just feels weird that the end of this chapter closed today. The book was closed a long time ago. It had to happen sometime.

I have been very lucky to have made it to thirty years old with out having any grandparent die. I don't know how old he was. I don't know how he died. He lost out on thirty kick-ass years of my life. He lost out on thirty kick ass years of my dad's life. He lost out on on the best 18 mouths of joy I have ever known.

It was his loss. I never knew him. The news of his death did affect me, but did not bring me pain. I mourn what could have been. Not what was. I never needed anything from him. He hurt the man that I love most, not me. I am a grown man with my own family now. One that I will never let down.

I have always stood with your Paw Paw. I was told that I was free to make my own decisions about my relationships when I was older. My father was all I ever needed. He is my family. Mistakes were made. Ultimatums, right or wrong, were enforced. I stand with my dad.

The hardest part of dealing with this news is how to explain this to you. I know you are only a year and a half old, but like I said, this is our story. This is why I am writing this down for you.

Life is hard. My love for you is not. I have no idea how anyone could let there child walk away from them. I don't know how anyone could be so fucking selfish. How could any father let their relationship with their son burn. How could a son care so little of the man the raised him that a mistake, albeit a big mistake, could end their relationship.

I can not comprehend the thought that you could ever think so little of me that you would not come to my funeral. It is mind boggling. I would give up everything for you. My life if needed. I love you so much that it hurts me sometimes. Fatherhood has changed me. Change my thought about this story. My thoughts about my dad. I understand but can never comprehend.

I know this is a lot. Death is a lot. This is the story of a man I never knew. A man that I officially will never know. This is the story about one of the leaves on your family tree. His name was Marvin.