My Grandpa served in World War II in the Army Air Force as a pilot. My uncles John and Jerry also served in the military and Uncle Jerry served in Vietnam as a communications specialist. My Uncle John's two sons John and Jerry also served in the military. I served in the Army National Guard and served in Iraq as an engineer officer. All of us served our country and some of us served in combat and all of us wore LOVERIN on our uniforms. I thought I was an equal to the men in my family. I had earned my place of honor and respect in my grandfather's eyes. At least I thought so.
We sat today and he told stories of his youth and flight school and serving overseas and fighting the Japanese. I quietly propped up my cell phone and recorded him as he talked. I pulled down the yearbooks and old photos and his military portrait from when he was a cadet. I have never asked for anything from my grandparents estate. I am not a hoarder of material possessions, they can't bring back the person that is lost. I do love pictures though, they tell a story and show us who we came from. I don't even keep the pictures anymore. I scan and scrap them and pass them along to someone who has the need to hold onto the physical reminders.
Grandpa let us know that we will not be receiving any of those heirloom photos, books, and articles because I'm a female. I am not a son who can pass the items on to my son to give to his son. He plans to pass everything along to my Uncle John to give to my cousin John to give to his son Nathan. The age old patriarchy alive and well because they bond over hunting and fishing and Republican values. It does not matter that my mom, myself, and my daughters all bear the Loverin last name. It isn't enough for him. So I said goodbye as we left and it probably will be the last time that I ever see him alive. He has shrunk so much and even the day to day life is a daily battle. I cried on the way home but I'm letting go now. I'm letting go of my childlike desire to be loved and accepted by him. I'm letting go of my expectations of being seen as an equal to my male cousin. I'm letting go. I can carry around the hurt in my heart or I can free myself and know that it doesn't change who I am. I love my grandparents to the best of my ability and they are only human with their own faults as well.