|Nice grandparents, 1983|
For Mormons, my paternal grandparents had very few children. They had just two, my father and his younger brother, Richard. We were a small family, but close. When I was a kid, the only vacation my family ever took was to visit my grandparents, which meant visiting Richard as well, because he always lived with them, or near them. They kept him out of trouble and when they couldn't keep him out of trouble, they bailed him out of trouble.
|Bob, Glade, Richard|
Richard was extremely sentimental and, perhaps because he had no children of his own, he was particularly sentimental about his nieces. The world is full of bad, abusive, and merely indifferent uncles. Richard, for all his problems, was a prince among uncles. My sister Justine and I could not have loved him more, and it went both ways.
I don't want to romanticize, though. By the time I was 15, I knew Richard was a wreck, irresponsible and impossible, a heartbreaking burden that gradually became a crushing burden on my well-meaning grandparents. Here's what my grandparents and Richard taught me about parenting: You do not necessarily reap what you sow.
In the mid-1990s, Richard was checked in to the state mental hospital in Provo. While he was there, my grandparents both died, within months of each other, almost like they needed to hurry up and check out before he was released because they were too old and tired to take care of him anymore.
Shortly thereafter, without consulting my father, someone on staff at the hospital bought Richard a one-way ticket to Las Vegas, gave him a wad of cash, and put him on a plane. I don't know who that person was, but what a heel.
|Richard, of course, was delighted. Vegas was his Xanadu. He checked into the Stardust Hotel, called us drunk and jubilant late at night, spent all his money, and within a few weeks, disappeared.|