No disrespect for those who have passed, but this grandfather of mine had many questionable moments in his lifetime.
He was an interesting Hungarian: blonde, blue-eyed, not particularly tall (not so unusual in my recollection) and a noted hot head. He was a bit of a blockhead. In his lifetime, he found himself to be very good at not always doing what he should have been doing. When he worked, he was high energy, and was truly a human dynamo. His homes and yards, when he was older were neat as a pin.
My grandmother married him on a date that they didn’t share with us, no one was ever really sure of it. My grandmother’s sole purpose, as the story goes, in marrying him, was to have him take her back to Hungary. The intervention of WWI kept that from happening and they became so established in the U.S. that they never returned.
My grandfather visited us at our first house in about 1980 or so. It was the first time he had ever flown and I was worried about his broken English since Midway was undergoing construction and you could not (as you still could back then) go to the gate. As it turns out, my fears were unfounded as the flight attendants on his plane walked him to where we were and by that time they knew my life story.
While with us, MK would pay the neighbor girl to walk Christian in his stroller as my grandfather insisted, to make sure that both of them were okay.
One day, we realized that Grandpa had cut down a dead tree in the neighbor’s yard. It was just a shade older than a sapling and we apologized profusely. Our neighbor, Jim Gorman, said he was happy about it.
My grandfather looked at Jim, in his fifties, and asked how old he was. Jim replied and Grandpa said in his inimitable way, “Jesus Christ, you are too fat!” Grandpa thought he was way older. Jim said, “You are right.” Luckily no offense was taken.
Grandpa said to us that he was going to move in to our tiny, two-bedroom house. We said, “Gee, Grandpa, our house is too small.” He said, “No problem, I will take your bedroom and you two can sleep on the couch.”
Needless to say, I called my mom to have a Hungarian intervention and explain things to him in his native language.
Before he left, he gave me a small amount of cash, something that he and my Grandma (deceased since 1975) always did. He made it clear that he was not giving more. “You know, if I gave you more, you would only spend it.” I guess he had something there.
Although not always the best with his wife and kids, Grandpa took his job of being the closest thing I had to a dad quite seriously.
As my mom would say, “He was a pistol.”