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The Other Woman

(I’ve changed the name used in this post because the real name was unique and it was the respectable thing to do.)

My grandmother was an interesting woman. To me, she was incredibly smart, proud, and disciplined, but she could also morally inconsistent at times.


Growing up, I felt closer to her than even my own parents. She cultivated my love of reading by taking me to the library and encouraging my interests. When my parents divorced, my brother and I spent a lot of time at her apartment, where she’d cover the coffee table with a big towel and serve us some amazing meals. She was a talented chef and a very successful baker.


I knew she and my grandfather were divorced, but growing up I never thought too hard about my Papa Bill, a nice man who’d come by and visit for a night or two on the weekends. He was always pleasant, and a very standup guy. He was cut from a different cloth than most men now, and he seemed honorable, kind, and positive.

Papa Bill and My Grandmother at Christmas

I didn’t realize he was my grandmother’s boyfriend, I guess that concept was just too foreign to me. I mean, could grandmothers even have boyfriends? I knew they had been seeing each other for twenty years, but I was in elementary school, and I just couldn’t wrap my head around the scale of that.

When my parents divorced, my father blamed my grandmother for playing a role in dissolution of his marriage. As I mentioned, my grandmother was an amazing person to me, but as I grew older, I was able to see some of the dark side too. I guess, the nicest way for me to say this is, my grandmother could be a bitch. Not to her grandkids, but she could be one and while I think my father overlooked the role his own addiction issues played in that marriage, I’m sure she wasn’t completely innocent either.

Papa Bill breaking out the guitar

As the bad blood rose between the two halves of my family, someone (I can’t remember exactly who, possibly my other grandmother) let the cat out of the bag about my grandmother’s boyfriend. He wasn’t my Papa, in fact, he was a married man, and my grandmother was the other woman.

A photo of my grandmother, my brother, and I taken by Papa Bill

My preteen mind almost exploded upon learning this information and I struggled to rectify her action with the black and white world I saw on the television I watched at her house all the time. My grandmother was a cheater? What was going on?

It took a few years before I confronted my grandmother about her relationship with Bill and as always, she was very open and honest with me about it. They had been seeing each other for a very long time. His wife knew, and his marriage was devoid of love, but because of his success, their family, and their religion, his wife tolerated the affair.

I was still a bit blown away, because it just didn’t seem like something like this should/could be happening, but it was. Bill was a nice man. A very nice man and definitely not what you’d think of when you think of someone who’d step out of his marriage, but here he was, married to one woman and loving another.

Their affair continued as I grew older. I believe it slowed down in the late 2000’s, prompted partially by an ill grandchild that Bill ended up caring for and supporting. Still, he and my grandmother remained close friends, talked daily, and he sent her money to support her. My grandmother passed away in 2019, and to her dying day she said without a doubt that Bill was the love of her life. The timing of things just didn’t work out for them. There was always something tragic in that sentiment and I feel bad for all three parties involved. The wife who didn’t get the love she deserved, as well as the couple who deprived themselves of the happy life they could have had. I’m not sure anyone truly won in that situation.

A skinny me with my grandma shortly before she passed

A few weeks ago, my mother sent me an obituary. Bill passed away this past January. I hadn’t seen him since the late 90’s, but I remember hoping he could make it to my grandmother’s funeral. He wanted to be there, but he was ninety-four years old and just couldn’t make the trip from Greensboro to Raleigh. Part of me wanted to call him and just tell him that I appreciated how nice he was to me and my brother growing up. We didn’t have too many adults in our lives that treated us with kindness and respect, but he did. I guess, if there is an afterlife or a second go around, I hope he and my grandmother can find each other and live happily ever after.

Published in#WeblogPoMo2024

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