I don't have many memories of my Grandfather on my father's side. He died when I was about nine years old. He had came to this country from Hungry as a very young boy, around 5 years old. He never spoke Hungarian and none of my his children, all 13 of them didn't either. However, I only learn recently that he did not become a US citizen until his mid 30s and that it was one of the proudest days of his life.
He knew my Grandmother, born in the US, since childhood and she steadfast wouldn't have anything to do with him until they began dating in their early 20s. I'm told they were never apart for one night and despite 13 kids always found alone time (maybe too much given that number of kids.) Through the Depression my Grandfather had the unique luck of working for the Coast Guard as a ship repairman. That would have been my father's life had he not gotten drafted into WW2 and eventually attended college on the GI bill.
I'm told that my Grandfather became very depressed in life after the death of my Grandmother and eventually died of a broken heart. I remember him having out dollar bills to what had to be nearly 70 grandchildren. He'd always tell us not to tell Mom or Dad, it was his treat.
I guess my Grandfather was the successful Immigrant story. American all the way and working hard to bring up a nice family. My aunts and uncles, some of them now gone were the most honorable people I've ever met. The older I get the more I miss that huge extended family and realize how lucky I was to be able to be molded by such greatness. Certainly my zest to understand life and the truth about topical events was driven by the discussions I witness as a kid.
If we truly do rejoin our lost ones when we die I really will enjoy telling my Grandfather what an amazing job he and Grandma did raising 13 very bright, caring and respectful people. Nothing I want more than to be sitting in a that chain again hearing the most riveting debates and discussions.