Bert never got past the fourth grade. He dropped out after that and was basically a teenage bum, lying about his age whenever he felt like making some money. He also lied about his age to get into the service, which was probably the most educational experience of his life. He fought overseas in an armored division, which I can say is true because he would tell me the stories of how stupid or twisted people in the service could be with a frat-boy gleam in his eye, delighting in how other people seemed to be as base as he was.
When he married, it wasn't for too long. About a decade. Long enough for Bert to sire three kids and start abusing them and his wife. He once threw a hammer at his own child from across the dinner table when she said something he didn't like. He seemed to think he had been exonerated from the act because he hadn't hit her. That was his point of view. He was still a good guy because despite all of the abuse no real damage had been done. It was probably no surprise his wife left him, taking on three young kids by herself.
But what I really can't forgive him for was what he did to his second wife. She was a woman half his size, but she was a real pistol and wouldn't put up with any of his shit. Sometimes there can be a glimmer of hope.
Bert decided that the country life was the best way to go, so despite his inexperience he bought a hundred acres in West Virginia and decided to put up a farm on it. Moving hundreds of miles away from his family, Bert got himself a western-style hat and started his new life. He started with chickens, a goat, and for some bizarre reason only he knows, some peacocks. He kept the peacocks cooped up near the goat and they got so nervous about it their feathers fell out. Apparently their feathers keep them from freezing to death so they went extinct. The goat got slaughtered after he found out it was going under his truck and chewing on the tubing and cables. Why he allowed the goat to wander freely near his truck is beyond me, and maybe the goat was trying to do the world a favor by chewing through Bert's brake cables, but it failed before it died.
The chickens pissed Bert off, too. He liked to take his aggression out on them by grabbing them by the feet and swinging them over his head before tossing them on the roof. I wish to the heavens I was making this up, but I suppose it's not too much of a stretch for a man who abused his wife and kids to get a laugh out of a chicken with dislocated legs trying to get off a roof.
And speaking of roofs, Bert had done all of the construction himself, too. He had designed the house himself, and built a lot of it. However, as you can probably imagine, since he only ever had a fourth-grade education he only had a rudimentary concept of math and engineering. Oh, he was the first person in the world to make fun of “college boys” for them wasting their time with “book learning.” But it wasn't even ironic when the foundation crumbled beneath his house within a year after it was completed. Years later, the floor would sag and other problems started surfacing, too. In fact, the only systems he didn't have trouble with were things like the plumbing and wiring. Things he had hired professionals to do.
In turn, the animals that pissed Bert off and were killed by his stupidity or anger were replaced by others. A couple sheep. Some ducks. A bull calf. Every time it happened he'd eventually get discouraged or annoyed enough then the animal would die due to cruelty or neglect. On the other hand, Marion, Bert's current wife, had her garden and year after year she churned crops of delicious food out of it. Her corn chowder was so good that I'm sure the Church thought about making it into a venal sin.
But then she had a stroke. It was one of those sudden out-of-nowhere things. Being that Bert had chosen to live miles away from civilization, it was hours before rescue workers got to his house and took her to the hospital. By that time the worst damage had been done. Bert was told that Marion's brain had been so damaged that she would never recover and come out of her coma, and since she could no longer live without life support the doctors told Bert it would be best to just let her die.
Being given news like this is never easy for anyone. But Bert decided he would keep her on life support in the hospital. Medicare and his Veteran's benefits would pay for it. However, Bert admitted something later that disgusted me. He decided not to remove the life support for a specific reason. Not because he was hoping she would improve. The doctors had already assured him it wouldn't happen. Not because he had a moral concern about taking the life of another. There wasn't a bone like that in his body. No, he kept her on life support because he had always envisioned that he would die before she did. Yup. It was out of pure vanity that he kept this poor woman alive.
Sure, at first he would drive the three hours to see her every day. But when it seemed to get harder and harder his visits waned until he barely bothered to see her at all. He just kind of left her in a hospital to die alone. Meanwhile, he started seeing other women.
Eventually he moved away with his mistress, leaving his brain-dead wife about six hundred miles away. But Bert got his wish, though. He wound up having a heart attack shortly after that, and he died just a few days before Marion did. When he died, it was with his lover at his side. When she passed away, there was no one there for her at all.
As for anyone reading this, you can take what you want from it. You might have your opinion and you might find reasons to forgive Bert for what he did. I can't. He was an evil fucking bastard who deserved worse than what he got. I won't ever forgive him, and I'm glad my grandfather is dead.