The grandpa I never had, but did I really miss out on anything?

I was blessed with a typical broken American family. Not necessarily broken due to divorce, although that reared it’s head from time to time, more like broken from the reality we live in. I call it a blessing because I have bee fortunate in missing out on a lot of the things some in our society would consider normal. Because of divorce, adoption and family abandonment I was blessed with having four adult men in my life with whom I could identify as grandpa. Yet I never got to know any of them.

Let me start with Grandpa Owen. He died when I was very young. Probably too young to accurately remember if you want me to be honest. What I do remember is fairly superficial to some, meaningful to someone like me though. I was attending a mid-week youth function at a local church. During the course of the evening one of the girls in the classroom left in tears. She found out her grandpa had passed away. This drove me to tears. Not because I knew the girl or her loved one but because I didn’t know my own grandpa.

I went home from church in tears. Knowing full well how my brain worked my parents didn’t try to comfort me in the traditional way you’d expect. Not with a meaningful talk or some hugs. Oh sure I got hugs and whatnot but they turned the a proven therapy method that seemed to always work. We sat down as a family and spent the evening playing video games. I specifically remember it was a night of fun games to distract me from that weird funk I was in. I can picture the games crystal clear. We played Combat, Joust, Pac-Man, Asteroids, Pole Position and Haunted House for the Atari 2600. 

My grandpa wasn’t a part of my dad’s life. He gave him up for adoption when my dad was eight years old. I never got to know him as he passed when I was very young. The only other memory of have associated with this man was the Super Gobot Baron Von Joy my dad gave me when he returned home from the exotic land of California following his dad’s funeral. Those are the only two memories I have about that grandpa. 

Grandpa Todd died before I was born. I can’t even write a full paragraph on what he meant to me. I never asked my grandma how he died. I never bother nor cared enough to ask my parents. I knew he died before I was born and that was it. Nothing else to say. 

Grandpa Jim was the closest I ever had to having a real grandpa. I met him when I was 14 years old. Not the best role model for a kid but he wasn’t the worst grandparent you could get. He didn’t take me to the park. He never bought me Christmas or birthday presents. He didn’t even live long enough to see me become his granddaughter. Instead he was a truck driver that came and went. Since I only lived at my grandma Frankie’s for a couple of months I hardly spent any time with Grandpa Jim. 

I remember a health scare following a heart attack he had when I was 16. I walked down to the only pay phone in town to give him a call in the hospital. We talked briefly then I spent my remaining time on a collect call to my pastor. He tried to provide me comfort, we prayed and after many tears Grandpa Jim got better and went home. I never saw him again. That was 1999. He died last year at the start of the Pandemic. I saw him no more than a grand total of two moths in my life consecutively. I cried when he died. I felt I missed out on an opportunity to get to know someone I have since learned was a pretty good man. I was angry when he died because I didn’t get to know him better. I was sad when he died because I wanted to be close to him. I mourned his loss. I sort of knew him, barely. 

Then there is the man who passed away this weekend. His name was Grandpa Ken. Although that is not what I called him. To us he was just Ken. My sisters and I never afforded him the respect of the title grandpa. He never seemed to care. He didn’t exactly claim us as his grandkids anyways. 

I can’t dig into the pain this man caused my family. I can say he meant nothing to me in life. In death he is nothing more to me than a reminder I was robbed of the experience many children have of having a meaningful relationship with their grandpa. 

I barely knew my grandmothers. All but one of them have passed. I make it a point to call my Grandma Frankie every week. If I got too long she will call me to make sure I didn’t forget about her. I will mourn the loss of her life. I have nothing else to say about her ex-husband who left a black spot on my family. 

The other part of his death on my mind is selfish in some respects. I find myself not concerned with the division of his estate. I doubt I will get anything meaningful from that. I am find myself more curious how I will be represented in his obituary. Not that it matters. Someone I love and respect very much said that is inconsequential all things considered. While that is largely true it is pressing on my mind. Again not that it will matter nor do I care how it comes out just that it is a reminder that when I die my family will most likely shrug it off as “meh” and move on.

That’s what I feel right now. Selfishly upset I will be misgendered and misnamed in a newspaper article I will never even read. Superficially upset that when I pass my family is likely to be dismissive of my life. Therein lies the anger. I am angry I never got to have a proper relationship with a grandpa. I am angry I might never get to live out my days as an integral part of the family I was born into. That is why I am angry right now. Life decided to bless this piece of shit while it decided I was better served as a doormat. 

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Stephanie Bri

A transgender writer who also does podcasts and videos. If you like my writing please consider helping me survive. You can support me directly by giving money to my paypal: If you prefer CashApp my handle is @Stephaniebri22. Also feel free to donate to my Patreon. I know it's largely podcast-centric but every little bit helps. Find it by going to, Thank you.