So, as it might have been already known by those who were interested, my second grandfather recently passed away. I was never really close to my grandparents from the side of my dad, but my mom's grandparents were my childhood. Ever since I remember they've been part of our lives, helped us immensly and coexisted with us as if we were a normal, giant family. They were always there for us when required, and we were always there for them.
Only after my grandfather recently passed away, I started wondering, how much did I actually know about him ? You see, my grandfather ever since I remember was a person who, when pressed about something, would always lock himself tight with his own thoughts and it was impossible to get anything he didn't want to speak about out of him. And, as a young child I was, and then impatient teenager, I never dared nor cared to drill the topic. When I received his certificate of death into my hands, it was the very first time I've learned that he was actually born in a city far, far away from his permanent living place. And a natural question jumped into my mind... "How did he even get here to this town in the first place ? ". Then I've started questioning just how much did I actually know about my grandfather.
So I decided to speak with my grandma, because I know talking right now is really something she'd be grateful for. Especially talking about him. And things I have learned have not only caught me unprepared and shocked, but also shed a new light on why he was always so hard to reach. Why he always turned away when confronted. Why he just wanted to have peace.
My grandfather had 3 siblings altogether, but they were all raised in uneasy times of II World War. I always wondered if any of my close relatives survived anything major during the war, however throughout my entire life I was not able to learn anything else other than my grandma witnessing people being executed by airplanes while running away. I thought that was the most horrifying story I'd have heard, but nothing, not even that excessive violence, can compare to pure horrors my granddad had undergone as a child.
He died at the age of 87. What means that he was no more than 8 or 9 when the war was breaking out. My grandma told me a lot. Things I never had known, and about which my granddad only ever spoke once to her, and never again did he mention these events and never again did she dare to bring them up. My granddad's father was pulled into the army, as obviously it was obligatory during the time of war. The day of the departure they gathered at the train station to say goodbyes to the brave men going to war to defend their country. He was there with his mother, saying goodbyes to his dad. And, as if this was a scene from a hollywood movie, that was the time the Nazi arrived and attacked the station. My grandfather witnessed his dad being shot dead, but he and his mother managed to survive and escape. As if this wasn't bad enough, soon after his mother fell ill due to issues with vermiform appendix. Since it was the turmoil of the war, her case was not tended to correctly and soon after she died in hospital. He became an orphan, along with 3 of his siblings.
The three wandered over various orphanages, however due to horrible state of the country and lack of basic supplies altogether, both of his sister died. He and his brother were the only two alive and they survived orphanages, only to be forcibly taken into the army after the soviet regime had installed itself, and soon after he was ordered to work with plane construction here at my hometown.
I know my granddad would never tell me that, he would keep these facts to himself. In fact, even my mom, his daughter, told me that now when she thinks about it, she didn't know her father at all either... And I cannot blame him. I would have never wanted to reach back with my memory to such horrible events if I had lived through them either. Yet... only now after he died 3 days ago, I started actually wondering how much I know about my parents and grandparents... and I learned I know next to nothing. And I wish to know... I wish I had known earlier as well.
Where am I heading with this ? I don't know really. For once, I know this is one of my ways of coping with the loss. But the reason I decided to share it... I figure majority of us does not really pay attention to our parents or grandparents the way they deserve. We often don't know what they did in the past, why did they do it and why are they the way they are today. And I now understand, only when it's too late, that we all should spare some time and speak to our most loved ones. Because once they're gone, all we will be left with will be our memories. And if we don't create a few, precious one now, if we do not invest our time into learning our family better... ...we might wake up when it will be too late already. Just as I did.
Do not allow yourselves to make the same mistake.