Reflections written and shared by Andrea Gabossy
I think about my grandparents a lot and who they were… the grandparents on my dad’s side. Laszlo and Olga. The names probably are a dead give-away as to their nationality – Hungarian. Both were born in the early 1900s in Hungary and grew up in the old country. My grandfather was a colonel in the Hungarian army; he commanded a cavalry unit. They emigrated to the United States in 1951 (I found the actual immigration record on Ancestry.com!) and settled in Maryland, eventually also living in Virginia and Washington, DC. My grandfather worked for the Federal Government as a cartographer until he retired in his 70s.
When I was born, my grandparents doted on me; I can tell from my childhood photos. Unfortunately, my grandmother passed away when I was 2 years old, so I do not really remember her. But, I do remember my grandfather. Habits from being in the Army never died; he always dressed impeccably, in trousers and a dress shirt. His shoes were always shined. Shaved every morning. On cooler days, he wore a long, black wool overcoat and fedora.
I have many memories of ‘Nagypapa’ (Hungarian word for grandfather)… memories which evoke a warm fuzziness… that of comfort and security. What I remember the most is that he had a seemingly infinitesimal patience for all my crazy shenanigans! I remember going to Palisades Park with him on summer weekends… attending mass on Sunday mornings… watching Lawrence Welk and the bubble machine on TV… picking honeysuckles… laughing at the opening sequence of The Partridge Family where the bird kicks the eggshell… swinging in the swing on his porch… visiting Hungary in the summer of 1975… listening to a recording of my grandmother’s voice every night…
He never remarried after my grandmother died, and after reading some of his memoirs, apparently never got over her passing in September 1967:
Dear Son: Since I lost your dear mother, my life has been nothing but misery and an overwhelming longing for her. Over the past few days I have felt as if I was losing vital blood drop by drop, little by little. The feeling of loss for your mother is still too strong and aching in my soul and heart…
As an adult, I have come to greatly respect this soulful, lonely, somewhat melancholy, yet disciplined man of integrity, and only wish that he had been around longer in my life and that I could have had more time with both my grandparents. I could have learned so much from them. I do hope that they can see me now, and that they are proud of the person I have become and how I have lived my life.