This one is a really tough one to write. It still breaks my heart and leaves me cursing myself or my idiocy.
When we were married we were the Typical Teens That Fucked Up. We had the shotgun wedding. All the rotten things I say about millenials and young people were true about me: I was immature, I was lazy, I was unreliable and unambitious. I had been raised in an upper middle class family, been coddled at school and when I hit the job market as a young man with a family on the way - oh Lord, to say I was unprepared was an understatement. Thank God for my wife. Thank God for my family.
For the first months of our marriage we lived in a low rental subsidized town house meant for kids like us, or those with disabilities that needed a helping hand rather than a hand up. It was the most shameful period of my life. We had no money, even with subsidized rent. I grew up fast and maybe a little mean for it...who knows.
During that time the family helped us out all the time which only deepened my shame. Pop bought us a TV, relatives dug deep and helped us get by. One of my failings is that I am a prideful man and this charity only served to deepen my shame. I swore the second that I could afford to, we would move out of the subsidized low rental and into a smaller apartment - where at least, we would be paying our own way.
The problem with that was that our relatives were buying us big stuff and you can only fit so much into a small apartment. I started to get seriously stressed out. 'Please,' I said, 'when we move out it will be into a small apartment! Not a big house! We won't have room for all this stuff!!'
But Grandma would have none of it. I was (for some reason) her favourite grandson. She absolutely loved my new wife and made no secret of it. One day she bought us a washing machine - and I nearly had a stroke. "Gramma," I begged, "Please! Take it back! We won't have room for it...!!!!!!"
And of course, my in laws were there and promptly had to meddle in things. "No problem Glen, you can store this stuff at our place while you save up for a house..." Gawd - all these good intentions were everywhere around a good young couple just getting off to a rocky start. But I refused and tried again, trying not to give offence. "That could take YEARS," I said, "So no - please, Gramma, take this washing machine back!" Even back then I knew I didn't want to owe my in laws any favours because unbeknownst to the wife - these favours came with a "price tag" of sorts, and my father in law made damn sure I paid. But none of these things meant anything to my elders. They were there to help. They loved us.
One day I came home and the damned washing machine was downstairs chugging away and my wife was ecstatic. I just wanted to crawl under a rock in shame. Washing machines are something a husband buys for his wife. I couldn't even pay the bills.
I was home when the drying machine showed up - and I lost my shit. 'Take it back!' I said. The delivery guys were flummoxed. "But...But...it's paid for! We'll even take it downstairs for you..." I thanked them but sent the machine back anyway. I was in a cold fury now. I wanted to pay my own way. I wanted to buy those appliances for my wife. I wanted her to pick them out. My wife was sad but God bless her - she understood.
My Grandma who had bought us the machine, though - was in tears. She saw this as a rejection of her and in a way it was. She had coddled us kids as much as anyone growing up, and I didn't want to be coddled anymore. I was a man...or at least, I was trying my damndest to be one. Mom got involved and explained everything to her but even then, I had hurt Grandma in a way I had never intended. Our relationship changed forever after that and was never the same again.
Remember Mr. Carlson starring as The Maytag Man? And how he was always bored because Maytags never break down and he was bored all the time at work? Well...Maytags do break down. Every 10 or 12 years a bearing goes on it, and we haul it in to the same guys. The bearing costs about $13.56 plus labour to install. The shop has refused to sell us a new one because apparently the new modern appliances are scrap in 5 or 10 years. They tell us to just keep repairing the old one and they will sell us a new one when it's time. It's still down there in my dungeon, chugging away like the day Grandma bought it for us. Yannow... it is probably one of my prize possessions now that I think of it.
I wonder if something similar happened between my daughter and I. Will she ever regret the soap opera with me as I remember the one with Grandma? Take a moment to ponder your kids, folks. Make sure you're not stepping on their toes by accident. Love blinds us to these things sometimes.