Family Ties

Dear Granddaughter,


it really is a pity that we have only gotten to know each other so late in our lives. That I was never part of your childhood is not my fault, you see. It doesn’t surprise me that your mum has never told you the truth about me.

What surprises me is that she turned out as healthy as she did in the end; Your alcoholic grandma was pregnant with her and went haywire across town, nobody could find her for months and I had no idea what she was doing. Then one day I came home from work and there she was laying on the floor passed out with the water broken and you stuck. Both your mum and her would have not made it if I haven’t called the ambulance and pulled your mum out myself while I was waiting for it to arrive. Back in the day, you see, they only had one hospital and ambulances were scarce. Your grandma suffered a stroke that day because she stopped breathing for a bit; I didn’t know anything about CPR and this was the first of many strokes to come.


Your mum was still very little when I came home early one day, at that time we were living in the old part of downtown behind that oddly shaped mountain that took all the sunlight from this part of town and our little apartment in a sidestreet was cold and mouldy. You see, it was the sixties and your grandma didn’t have a job because she was meant to be looking after her children. I was working long hours, 12, 14, often 18 hour- days after which I stayed up studying at least one hour per night for the college course I enrolled in. I didn’t know what your grandma was doing to your mum, I never saw the belt-shaped wounds that were neatly covered up whenever I was home.

I came home that day and I walked in on your grandma getting it on with some blond meagre lanky in our matrimonial bed. While the guy was getting up, gripping his underwear in one hand and opened the window with the other, I realized it was the guy from the gas station down the road. He managed to get the window open and jumped out, breaking his leg as we lived on the second floor. We had to call the ambulance and your grandmother had the nerve to insist on coming to the hospital with him. At that stage I was already done yelling and walked back into the apartment and your mum and your aunt came out of the living room where they were watching TV asking me where their daddy went. Can you believe this?

Obviously this had been an ongoing affair and this very night I decided I had enough of it and I left, telling everyone that the railway had stationed me in Vienna.

I have been living in Berlin for a few years preparing myself to move to Australia with a friend as the railway was a booming industry over there when your other aunt was born in ’71 and your grandma wrote my name on the birth certificate. She only did that so she could sue me for alimony later on, but that is a story for another day.


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