I realize that as it stands now, we have three months and a week to plan this (or not), so it's not like we're in a rush or a panic. But with that said, I thought it might be prudent to seek some outside input about it well ahead of time.
The background: my husband and I have found ourselves in the uncomfortable position of being the only family members left who are still communicating with his grandfather. The reasons for this are many. They have been explained to us by each of the major players in this drama, and it's enough to make your eyes glaze over because it's a metric ton of who said what first and whether they "really meant it that way."
Suffice it to say that if you were to hear the story from Grandpa's side, our brother-in-law's side, and our parents-in-laws' side, you would understand that each of them have very good cause to be angry and hurt. I can certainly see all angles of it. However, I also think the whole thing is basically a waste of everyone's time and energy because life is all too short. But perhaps that's only easy for me to say because I'm on the outside.
My husband and I wish that everyone involved would bury the hatchet, but stubbornness runs deep in this family, so realistically we only see it ending in one of two ways:
1. sooner or later, Grandpa will pass away; or
2. when my husband and I have kids, the whole clan will want to see them, so everyone will be on their best behavior at least in their presence.
And now our dilemma: Grandpa is turning 80 this fall. Under normal circumstances, this would mean a big party. Family friends and other relatives have had big parties for their major birthdays and anniversaries. But with the way things have been going, we're fairly certain that no one is lifting a finger to plan anything for him, and that makes us sad. Yet on the other hand, we're hesitant to try to plan something big for him ourselves, because due to their age, Grandma and Grandpa have seen a good number of their dearest friends pass away. These are the friends we would have invited.
Of their friends who survive, some have significant health problems, others live out of state and cannot travel, and we lack the contact information for the fraction who remain local and healthy. Then of course there is the family - who have cut off all contact with Grandpa, as I've stated above.
Doesn't sound like much of a party atmosphere, does it? Yet we sort of feel wrong not to at least try to do something special. But at the same time, we worry that a party or any attempt at a party would just call attention to the void that's left in the wake of their dwindling friends and the family cold shoulder.
So what are the good grandkids to do?