By CJ West, author Addicted To Love
I’ve killed a lot of people, fictionally speaking, with guns, knives, ropes, chemicals, explosives, and even a wine bottle. These killings tend to be spectacular and the killers usually get punished in the end. What would be more insidious is a real life killing that has gone unpunished. I’m going to tell you the story of a sweet old man who died before his time and I’ll let you decide who was to blame.
My grandfather, Lefty, was a people pleaser. The kind of guy that would do one hundred favors for you and never ask for one in return. He would shovel snow in a blizzard with a spoon before he’d ask to borrow a shovel. As I grew older I understood that our personalities were incredibly similar. We are both very quiet by nature and take great pleasure in doing things for other people. As I watched my grandfather age, I believed he measured himself by the things he did for others. I saw my future in him, and understood the root of some of my behaviors by watching his.
Everyone who knew my grandfather loved him. How could you not love a guy who’d give you his left arm if he could figure out how to attach it for you one-handed?
You might expect a sweet guy like my grandfather to end up with a doting wife, each taking great care of the other. Nothing could be further from the truth. My grandmother was domineering to the point of absurdity. I was often embarrassed for my grandfather as I watched him being ordered around by a woman who didn’t leave her chair. He was a smart man, but very often was pushed into unwise decisions because he couldn’t refuse my grandmother’s wishes. I don’t think my grandmother was evil, but she was certainly self-centered and one of the least self-aware people I’ve known.
When I watched them I saw my poor grandfather being bullied, but it was also clear they were very much in love. They needed each other. Grandpa needed to serve. Grandma needed to be firmly in charge. I wondered as the years went on if my grandmother had always been so self-centered or if my grandfather’s doting had raised her expectations to unsustainable heights. And when I create characters I think about how our psychological makeup may bind us to people who may not seem like the obvious choice, but serve our “invisible” needs and bring us peace in a way that is hard to understand.
Grandpa worked on. My grandmother demanded to be cared for day and night and Grandpa could not keep up. He washed bedclothes twice a day. He cleaned. He cooked meals. All at an age where many people, my grandmother included, couldn’t take care of themselves, never mind someone completely dependent for everything.
Since this is a blog about crime, chime in and tell me who you think Grandpa’s killer was and what punishment (if any) they deserve.