To My Children’s Great Grandmother

They will never know you because of you, not because of me.

I could see your house from here.

Grandma S,

I know you got my letter, where I told you that you had a granddaughter instead of a grandson. You never talked to me. Instead, you told my mother that you couldn’t love me as I am. You said were sad that my kids wouldn’t know you.

How dare you talk to her about me. But we knew you would. We planned on it. I tried to give you one chance, but because you would not speak to me directly, I will now speak to you this way.

We have lived in our home for 13 years. You have never visited us, despite you driving literally through the city in which I live multiple times a month.

My letter to you 2 months ago does not change that my children do not know about you and my grandfather. That was your decision. And you re-upped on that decision every time you head to your second home up north for a few days.

You never called. The last time we spoke on the phone I called you, when your daughter — my mother — was in the hospital. You didn’t believe her that she was ill. She looked near-death enough that even the medics turned the ambulance siren on. She’s better now, but not much. No matter what you believe.

I tried to come by before, but you were not home, no matter how often I would coordinate with you. No matter how I would tell you that I could try to get down, but it was hard to get off work and to get money together and the rest. One time, I remember, you promised both me and my sister you would be home. She came from across the country and we took a day to see you. We arrived to an empty house.

Your great-grandchildren do not know you as anything other than a bigot at this point. You have reduced yourself to this 2-dimensional parody of a person. And why? Because I told them what you couldn’t even tell me directly: you did not want a trans grand kid. You could not call. You did not write. You called my mother.

You told her you took me from the will. Do you think that matters: why would I sell out my whole self for anything? I tried. I tried so hard and failed. You do not love, you only exchange tokens for that.

Grandma, remember how you made a big deal about my kind gestures after your sister died? I was a woman then, but you didn’t know. A kind woman who was confused about herself in the foothills of West Virginia held you while you wept, like you never did for me, because I was a man in your eyes. Even when my own father died.

Picture it: yourself, held by me, outside the hotel room. And again after her funeral Mass, with the church’s windows looking out over the valley.

When you die, I will go to your funeral. I will dress in black. I will mourn. And because my own mother taught me better than to be so selfish as you, I will hold my mother in my arms, but I know we will mourn together, helping one another, because she was a far better parent than you.

Your ex-grand-daughter,

Jen

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