My grandfathers were characters. One of them lived with us for a time, being asked to leave when it was determined that my father was dying. He was not an easy one at all. I almost feel bad that I never liked him and that I had not one good experience with him. My dad’s sisters’ families had a totally different experience with him. Because of him, my mother begged me to never name a child ‘Nick.’ A pity since I actually like the name.
My maternal grandfather was a character from the get go and had he not lived to old age, he might never have been appreciated. My paternal grandfather passed away about a year after my dad did. My maternal grandfather lived to see me married and with three kids.
One of the stories of Grandpa Bori (maternal grandfather) took place in South Bend, Indiana, where he lived before coming to Cleveland. He worked in a bar. One night a man came in with no money. As the story goes, my grandfather offered him $5, all the drinks he wanted, and dinner for his gold, Elgin pocket watch. The chain that I have with the watch was sent to my grandfather from his family, having been his father’s in Hungary, for his watch.
For years I marveled at the watch and would enjoy seeing my grandfather take it out and check the time. I coveted it, to be honest. I think that I have spent a lifetime searching out my roots, always feeling as if I were not complete, wondering about my origins. The watch gave me a connection of sorts, becoming a good luck charm. Going to France for a year took me to Europe, the land of my ancestors, and for a week in December of that year, I was with actual relatives of my grandmother in Budapest. I felt a strange feeling as I walked in the land of my forebears and felt that I had completed a mission that not one of my American relatives had yet managed (even at present) to do.
The watch kept me under its hypnotic spell but I never thought that it would be mine. Since my Uncle Joe (my grandfather’s only son…that we knew of) was of the generation that seemed to not want the European connection, he told my grandfather that he did not want the watch. It therefore came to me, along with my grandfather’s pipe.
Then there was the reason for my grandfather leaving South Bend, a story worthy of Hollywood. That is for another time.