Q. It’s hard for me to even type this, as it’s been hush-hush for so long, but I was abused by my grandfather between the ages of 3 and 5. I only remember a few things distinctly: He would put his hands up my dress and rub my belly, and lick the inside of my ears. I remember feeling something was very wrong and pulling my dress down while telling him, “No!” Thankfully, for whatever blessed reason, it stopped. It was still fresh in my mind, however, when I was between 7 and 10, as I made up “rules” for myself to not initiate conversation, to respond with short sentences and to attempt to avoid any physical contact when going to visit him and his girlfriend, now wife. They moved to another part of the country when I was 12, and I’ve only seen them a handful of times since.
I’m now a 20-something college graduate, happily engaged and living far away from all of them. Several months ago, my father brought up the memories during a visit, apologizing for not doing something about it at the time, but in the same breath saying it was not molestation, and that it must have been misunderstood because there was no way his father meant it as anything but innocent playing with his first granddaughter. It took my breath away as a sea of memories came back.
I’m close with my parents, so during a discussion with my mother, I brought up my father’s reminding me of those events that I had essentially wiped from my memory. My mother became very emotional and confided that my father’s sister also had been molested, but as a teenager. My mother also expressed sympathy that she felt unable to protect me from my grandfather, and that my father did not stand up to my grandfather.
I’m planning a wedding now and am reluctant to have this man around kids. (Many of our friends have young children who will be there.) Should I invite him to the wedding? I have never sought counseling for this, but maybe it would be helpful.
A. You sound as though you have dealt with this situation well and are remarkably sanguine about your parents. But if you feel there’s residual angst about this, by all means, see a therapist. As for the wedding, do not invite the perv, I mean Gramps. The statement will be understood by those who need to understand, and I find the exclusion a mature response and one which I hope brings you quiet satisfaction.
Q. I’m a 40-year-old man, the youngest of six brothers. Our father recently passed away. My oldest brother, “Hal,” went through Dad’s things the day after the funeral. Five years ago, it was common knowledge that I had given Dad a nice watch. Now that he is gone, I was hoping for that watch to come back to me. I asked about the watch and am not getting any straight answers. Now I’m starting to believe one of the other brothers has it and is keeping quiet. Should I just let this go to keep the peace in the family or press to find out who decided to keep it for himself?
A. My guess as to the new owner of the good watch would be Hal, but I’m not sure how you could “press to find out” short of searching his house. It is too bad only one brother went to the house, but that’s what happened. Though it’s cold comfort, there are often hard feelings when there is anything to be inherited.