My grandmother was only 6 years old when the empire collapsed and a new republic was founded. She grew up to be the ultimate republic child; her values were justice, hard work, honor and equal rights to all. But it was 1954 when she got married and equal rights did not quite apply there. As a law school graduate she worked for long hours only to come home to prepare dinner for 6 to 8 guests and go to bed with the house looking as pristine as before the event. And mind you, this was a time when there were no dishwashers, refrigerators, portable hairdryers. Even the nylon stockings were very hard to find. Things got even worse when a baby who did not have the chance to use disposable diapers was added to the picture.
My grandfather was a child of the empire, he grew up thinking that nothing had changed. Working was still only for the very poor people and you got paid even if you didn’t move a finger. Time should be spent by entertainment only and there should be at least 10 people serving around in the house even if you didn’t see them. This was a time when you walked around in your shoes and all dressed up at home until it was time for bed and this suited my grandfather very well, provided that he was dressed in suits made form only the finest wool, shirts with gold cufflinks and silk socks.
With not enough money to keep this lifestyle up, he did the only thing a man who is used to having everything served to him with a silver spoon would do, he looked the other way. There he found a much nicer view to rest his eyes on and rented an apartment for the other woman to get the better of it. My grandmother was hospitalized for a month when she found out about his betrayal and when she was able to speak again, the first thing that came out of her mouth was asking for a divorce.
After some years of working and looking after her daughter all by herself, she married a trustworthy man this time. This package included a stepdaughter and a mother-in-law to live with, but the man was known for his honesty and just character. He was a judge after all. His expectations were no less demanding than the first husband, but on different subjects. So they raised their daughters, got old and retired, buried the mother and had a decent, predictable life where no dramas were played. Just about the time that their health began to be their main concern, he cheated on his wife of 40 years.
See, this was a very controlling man and like all the controlling people he was afraid of dying. So in order to feel young again or to distract himself from his daily worries, he chose to dismiss his values of integrity and honesty that he took most pride in. My grandmother did not ask for a divorce this time because that would be the inappropriate thing to do at that age and ‘what would everybody think of them when they found out’. They always said that even though they were very fond of each other, theirs was more like a marriage of reason.
Although she had fallen in love when she married my grandfather and had not fallen out of love when she heard about his cheating she had divorced him nevertheless, for that time staying married would be the inappropriate thing to do and ‘what would everybody think of her when they found out’.
My mother on the other hand, never thought about the appropriate things to do and got married and got divorced three times. She once said that she likes marriage so much that she gets married often.
So here I am, with three half brothers, for my father has also gotten married and divorced more than once, married to a guy whose parents are also the first and only dates of each other. They are one the most unhappy couples that I have ever seen and they will be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary this year.
Last year when my husband went to visit them in his hometown, they started arguing only after 10 minutes of his arrival and went on through the night. His mother was constantly whining about his father. He got so tired of it that he shouted ‘If you were so unhappy with this man, why didn’t you got divorced years ago and saved us all the trouble?’. To his surprise she said ‘You did not get to divorce back at those times, people would not approve.’ And come to think of this; his mother is at least 20 years younger than my grandmother.