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Did your grandfather ever beat someone up?

In my family, my grandfathers sometimes engaged in physical confrontation with others outside of the home.  I know about this because of the stories that were told.

When my maternal grandfather was young and had been married just a few years, he became upset with his supervisor at work, lost his temper, and hit him.  He lost his job for that.  Even worse, because he was unemployed, he was then eligible to be drafted to serve in World War II, leaving a pregnant wife behind.  The moral of the story?  Even if you are really, really angry, and you will get really, really angry at some point, don't hit someone in anger.  It could result in an even worse outcome.

My paternal grandfather owned a grocery store.  One night, he and his daughter (my aunt) were working together.  She was on the register and he was out back.  He heard her scream, "Daddy!" and came running.  A man had my aunt pinned up against some of the shelving.  My grandfather grabbed the man from behind, pulling him away from my aunt, and threw and kicked him to the floor.  When the man would get up, my grandfather would again grab him and throw him to the floor, until, finally, he literally threw him out of the store.  The moral of the story?  Don't anger my grandfather.  Well, that and if someone were to attack, my grandfather was physically capable of keeping us safe and that is part of the job of fathers and grandfathers, to keep their family safe.

My grandmothers each play their own part in these conflict stories.  In the first instance, I know that my grandmother was very angry at my grandfather for the outcome of his punch.  She was left pregnant and alone until he returned from World War II.  Neither of their children was born when this happened, but the story has survived multiple generations, being told first to my mother as a child and then to me as a child.  My grandfather was not the hero in this story.  No one was.

In the second instance, my grandfather was seen as the hero.  I think that you can credit part of that to his rescuing my aunt.  In that, he was a hero.  However, the violence that he used against the other man may have been (and likely was) excessive.  That never comes up in the telling of the story.  It would be impolite (and unheard of in our family) to mention it while the story is being told.  My grandmother (and my grandfather) believed that he was a hero and this is the story that has survived multiple generations, being told first to my father after it happened and then to me as a child. 

Think about the stories that your family hands down from generation to generation about conflict.  What messages have you received without even realizing it?  What messages are you sending to your own children?  Do you want to send these messages or is it time to rewrite some of the stories?

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