Dying grandad is inappropriate

My grandfather keeps saying hurtful, sexually inappropriate things… but he’s dying. Should I spend time with him?

There’s no right answer to this one, says our elder. You have to do what feels right to you.

Dear EWC

This is really strange to write, but I need help with this. I haven’t spoken to anyone, because my family doesn’t understand and will think of me as dramatic. (They are sociopaths, unfortunately.) Anyway, my grandfather is dying. He has cancer in his lungs and his self-care is very poor despite this. I want to go visit him and spend time with him, but a part of me doesn’t want to. I only write this because he’s made very inappropriate comments to me. He’s not my blood grandfather, but I grew up with him as a little girl. Things he’s said… well just yesterday while my grandma was talking to me on the phone, I mentioned how I got extra money this weekend, and when she asked how, I heard him in the back saying, “selling p**sy.” Which was so inappropriate and hurt my feelings. I never disrespect my grandpa. He’s also commented on my breast size and calls me his girlfriend as a joke. It is starting to feel like all this time he wasn’t my grandpa, to begin with, but I don’t want him to leave me without saying goodbye. I’m really torn and upset.

Good-Listener replies

As you’ve said, this is a tough one, and I’m not sure that there is a right or wrong answer — only how you feel and will feel after your “grandad” is gone.

Yes, he is absolutely being inappropriate. It’s also possible cancer has gotten to him or he has dementia, but I’m not a doctor so I can’t tell you that’s a fact. When my mom was dying she became violent and lashed out in all sorts of odd ways. But, from what you’ve stated, this isn’t the first time he’s made sexual remarks that have no place in your relationship.

Here’s what I’d suggest — and, again, consider it and if it’s not right, ask for someone else’s advice too so you’ll have other opinions. I would go see him but for a short period of time. Piggyback the visit with errands (even made up ones) that “must be done” that afternoon, morning, etc. I’d also try to make sure you’re a grandmother is present when you’re there — which will take the pressure off of you. He obviously still says dumb things in front of her, but maybe it will be a little less dumb.

Let him know you care but don’t allow yourself to be subjected to abuse. Try to let some of the stupid stuff roll off, knowing this isn’t someone who will be in your life on a regular basis… or even in your life much longer.

What I’m trying to say is: Pay him respect, with the understanding that this is who he is, and he isn’t changing now — so you have to keep the exposure to his inappropriateness to a minimum. In the end, it’s all about not having regrets. If it is important for you to see him, then, again, try to make it short and with your grandmother there. If you think his behavior will be so terribly upsetting to you or you feel in some type of danger, then don’t go. But it’s really up to what you can handle. You sound like a lovely and caring young lady — and a strong one, so following your instincts is probably the best way to go. Good luck.

Letter #: 439386
Category: Family

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