Tags: babies, children, death, father, grandfather, holocaust, smoking, World War 2
In just a few short weeks, I will become an aunt for the first time. This is very exciting for me and my family. The first grandchild. But I have to imagine that this is a particularly important moment for my father. He will have done something his own father never did — become a grandfather.
My grandfather died seven years before I was born, four years before my brother. He had been a smoker all his life and succumbed to cancer before ever reaching 60. He left behind two sons and a widow who would live almost another 20 years and would never marry again.
My father is a very emotional and proud man. It was a common occurrence growing up to catch him swelling with pride when one of his children scored a goal in soccer, performed in the school play, got an A on a really hard test. It was common to hear him say, “I wish Daddy were here to see this,” and shake his head as if to fight the tears away.
It is true that my grandfather missed out on a lot. But for someone I never met, I feel like I knew him well and that’s thanks to my father. He kept his memory alive with stories and would always tell me how he would react as situations came up.
My favorite story of my grandfather is one where my father paints him as a true hero, and it’s hard to really see it any other way. He had done some legal work for President Hoover, who was quite grateful and told my grandfather he owed him a favor. When World War II ended, my grandfather used this favor to find any relatives who had survived the Holocaust to bring them to safety. He used this favor to save lives.
Of course, not all of the stories my father tells me are quite this triumphant, and many of them are simply intertwined in my memories and difficult to separate from memories of moments I actually experienced. I know my grandfather was a simple hard working man that, despite bad habits, loved his family. And I know he would have loved me. In the pictures I’ve seen of him I see so much of my own father it’s hard to picture him as anything other than amazing.
I’m so happy my father gets to experience meeting his first grand child, and we all can’t wait to spoil him. I plan to spend my time instilling the same kind of memories in this child so he knows what an amazing bloodline he comes from. My grandfather would be proud.