I never knew my grandfathers. My parents told me that they had both died before I was born. Dad said his father was a mean drunk who beat his children. Nothing was ever said of my maternal grandfather except that he was dead.
We visited my maternal grandmother on most Sundays. She lived in a small house with her son, Uncle Ducky. Although Grandma Dragan's house had two bedrooms, Ducky always slept on the couch. The spare bedroom was kept neat and spartan like it was meant for a boarder.
One Sunday when I was 11, there was tension at Grandma Dragan's. Soon after we arrived, Dad and Ducky left on an errand that was clearly serious. When they returned, Mom and Grandma cleared a path for them as they carried an old man in through the back door and took him straight into the spare bedroom.
Who's that? I asked Mom. An old family friend, she answered dismissively.
When we visited Grandma Dragan the following week, Dad was dressed in formal polyester. Grandma's guest was gone and the room was back to its usual state of tidiness. An older sister was put in charge and the adults left. When they returned, Mom and Grandma were crying and I asked Dad why. He told me that they had just come back from the funeral for Mom's father.
I was shocked that my parents could lie to me like that. What had Grandpa Dragan done, I wondered and never learned.