The Hide in Dr. Jekyll

Yesterday I attended the funeral of my grandfather. This was a sad event, but not because I'll miss him or had a fondness for him. I hardly knew him. I had not seen him for 25 years, in fact.

He didn't live far away. Just up Emigration in the house my mom grew up in that he built himself. He survived my grandmother by six years and finally passed away (from what I'm told violently in a nursing home because his body didn't want to let go) at the age of 83.

I was not expecting to go to his funeral. More likely to spit on his grave and hoped he'd rot in hell.

The thing is I just can't make sense of his life. To me he was a sad sack of a man. The family secret, the elephant in the room, incarnate. A child molester. The worst thing you could possibly be in life.

I wasn't going to go to the funeral. But I did.

This man I didn't really know and had hated most of my life had the world at his feet once. He was given the honor of the smartest highschooler in America, was mentioned in Time Magazine and was called "the real Superman"

Time Magazine had this to say about him when he was just 17 (third paragraph down).

He had tea once with Eleanor Roosevelt, went to MIT on full scholarship, took a physics class from Albert Einstein himself, and rumor has it he is responsible for inventing the plans for the personal computer when he was just a teenager, which IBM (allegedly) stole from him.

He was an inventor, a scholar, always with a project going, always a scientist, always working on improving things. Ken Garff, that same Ken Garff of Honda car sales fame, (allegedly) swindled 5 million dollars out of him on a project they were working on in Kentucky that could detect oil in the ground. They say any book you ever mentioned he'd already read.

Who was this man? How could he have such a great, interesting life and have so much greatness in him yet so many horrible things all wrapped into one body? None of it makes sense.

I am glad I went. I'm not sure why I went, but I'm glad I did. It made me see why others could love him and who he could have been if he had not become the man I knew him as.

Apparently something happened in Kentucky. My mom thinks he did Speed. He didn't sleep, couldn't get himself to sleep, for 8 straight days. He died. He says he visited the spirit world. He says he saw great universities there and people inventing things and planting the ideas of those inventions in the minds of those on Earth.

After he came back to life he was never quite the same. Nothing he did amounted to anything after that. He was the Hyde in Dr. Jekyll. I don't believe anything is truly black and white, except for him. The worst and most evil part seemed to snap from the best of him.

Still, even after he became a child molestor, a bum who didn't love his wife and didn't support his family and made my grandmother work as a school teacher (in the 60's when women were not paid decently), and often my mom's family was on church welfare, they still said he'd give a stranger the shirt off his back. My uncle says he always gave him what little money he could find in his pockets. If he had 5 million dollars and you needed it he would freely give it. He was apparently very gentle, kind, loving and humble.

I can't seem to wrap my head around it. Was he genuinely kind or was that some kind of a cover for what he truly was?

Who was this man? And why did he have so many talents and abilities yet so many dark and horrible things to hide?

I wished I'd known the man he started out as instead of hating the man he became to me. It's such a confusing thing to try and comprehend all of it is the same man. He knew the Shaw of Iran? He is responsible for the PC? He studied under Einstein! The very good and the very bad all in the same person.

I waited for this day. For him to die. And now he's gone and I am left without hate, just confusion.


George Marie said…
The extreme confluence of "good" and "bad" is one of the most difficult issues to deal with. How can someone with such good in them be compelled to do something so atrocious? I think that the Joseph Smith translation of Matthew offers some insight. It goes like this:

"And as they did eat, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them, and said, Take it, and eat. Behold, this is for you to do in remembrance of my body; for as oft as ye do this ye will remember this hour that I was with you."

Jesus, I think, wanted his disciples to remember him in his perfect form. I think in life, we often find ourselves in dark situations. It's at times like these, we have the Scriptures often provide us some light to remind us of all the good that exists in the world, even when we find ourselves in dark places.
Lee said…
This was a great blog posting.
SJ said…
Blogs are still alive and well and burning with life, real life, far beyond a tweet or status update.
mj said…
Nice post. This was a good read and thought-provoking. I think the human brain is a marvelous and scary place, capable of much more than we expect but fragile enough to break and change forever. It would be hard to come to terms with a man like this.

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