moya duscha part 1

by Roy Tschudy
(Suffern N.Y.)

He was 89, a month short of his 90th year. Six foot tall with broad shoulders, still a strapping figure after all these years. On e could not look at " Grandpa" and not take notice of his legs. Oh those legs, long and bowed at the knees, as if he spent years on the rodeo circuit busting Broncs instead of a kid who grew up in the Bronx. His hands were akin to the size of a baseball glove, big and strong,yet gentle to the touch. George had many physical characteristics that made him unique in a funny kind of way, but then again nothing to laugh about. Way before he became " Grandpa " or even "DAD", he was just George. George was born in the sprig of 1915 to immigrant parents who arrived a few years earlier from Yugoslavia. His father was named Mirko, or in translation, Michael. Like many before him , came from allparts of the world to seek a better life. After a short whilein Mirko's new country, he became involved with other countrymen to help build and establish the Serbian Orthodox Church located in lower Manhattan. All life and activities centerd around the church; social events, political views, everything and anything in life, the church was the center formore than just worship. She was just 17, alone, alittle bit afraid, yet determined to find her path in life. Her name was Mileva, better known as Millieto family and friends. She arrived knowing only her native tongue and nothing else. It was here in Manhattan in thelittle Serbian community that both Millie and Mirko crossed paths andand as ithappens every day from the beginning of time, the two fell in love and were married. From this uniontwo children were born and raised in the borough named The Bronx. George was the first born in what is now a long gone hospitalin New York City. As the story has been recounted many times over, when the new born babe was presented to his mother, she cried out, "this is not my baby!" After the doctors and nurses conferred, sure enough a mistake had been made and the proper "switch" was then conducted. To think, if not for a mothers intuitive love and instinctive resolve, then our Grandpa, our Dad,could have been named Miguel! George could have been the biggest and oddest looking Puerto Rican inthe entire Bronx! The long road oflife had just begun and a collision was avereted right there at theinception. Maybe there was a reason why for so many years George grab the subwat to the city so he could watch the Puerto Rican Day parade. He always would say how coloefulit was and the folks were so happy and friendly, kinda makes you want to go hmm.... A few short years after George was born, a baby sister arrived and completed the Baranin family. Darinka or 'Dari' ,as she came to be called through her life , was adark haired beauty , who gratefully never inherited the same set of legs as bronco bustin George. Throughout the years that I came to know Grandpa George, he would reminisce about his early years and many other aspects as well. " ten o' clock, lights out! " This was a story Grandpa would relect upon every other visit to our house. It seems that when Grampa was a mere lad and even until young adulthood, Mirko would shut the house lights at ten p.m. sharp every night, no questions asked!"When myfather said lights out, he meant lights out, end of story!" recalled Grandpa. For some reason he took great delight in telling us that story. It seems that Grandpa , like many other senior citizens would recount memories andand repeat them many times over with the same enthuiasim as he had the first time around. Of course we at the Tschudy house would react the same way each time,"Oh really, I never knew that" each and every time Grandpa would tell one of his tales. " As a matter of fact, I never had a birthday cake growing up." Now if that was'nt sad enough news, he would often continue, " Christmas presents were but just a mere dream "for little George . Now just when youthink that you have hit rock bottom hearing these tidbits, he would then chime in with " you know what else? My father never said I love you to me" But I know George loved his father. All in all, I would think tomyself, gee Grandpa, thanks for sharing I really needed that Kick to the gut." But you had to know Grandpa, for to know him meant that you had to love him. Because whatever sad tale or story he would recall about the years spent with his parents, he always , and I mean always, proclaimed his owm deep love and admiration for both his mother and his father. This is just a small part of who George was. A man wholoved his family first and foremost, leaving every other thing in his life second. This truly was a grat man.He would share stories of shooting marbles on the sidewalks along with the other kids and playing stickball until all hours. The boy's would accept challenges from other neighboring kids regardind these games. To hear George tell it, one would think they were listening to a story about the "O.K. Corral!" Inevitably when Grampa would join us for a sunday dinner and my wife Lois,"his daughter and heart beat" would make a fine spread with all the trimmings. We would soon be informed with once again"you know, did I ever tell you that when I was a kid,me and the guys would sit around an old garbage can. We would put bricks in em paper, wood, and wharever we could find and start a little fire. It could be ten below, we did'nt care at all, we would get a hold of some potatoes and roast em up. What a great meal! We would tell stories and my friends and I really enjoyed each others company." If I heard the potatoe story once, I heard it a hundred times. Funny, but I wish I could hear it abain, just one more time. Speaking of eating dinner, this was an event that would be talked about for weeks after. I admit it was me who did most of the talking, but I also had Andrew as my side kick. You see, when Grandpa joined us at the table it was something like out of midevil times! God love him, but the belching and the flatuence was as normal to him as a duck to water. "Dad", Lois would chide,"please say excuse me when you belch at the table." This, of course, was meant to setgood manners for for our children, Dawn and Andrew. As well intentioned as Lois was, the usual reply from Gramps was, "what, you never belch?" Score another one for the old timer. Of course when he decided to join in conversation, it seemed he also had a mouthful of food at the same time. Me being an Army combat veteran was prepared for these mortar attacks, but poor little Andrew!The kid would be bombarded with peas and corn kernels. Andrew wasshell shocked at the tender age of six!!! On the other hand, Dawn would half smile, that I guess she was'nt under fire because of proper positioning and knowing of past performances. Smart Kid. " Dad, close your mouth when when your talking with food, please",Lois begged once more. A plea is just a plea, and thatplea lasted until all of thirty seconds, unyil the next fork full that is. Once again, I would'nt mind another "ATTACK" just one more time. Additional stories included working for the Railway Express where, "It would be so cold, I had to stand IN the icebox to get warm." One can only imagin if Gramps had any fish stories. He never flew in an airplane,"I ain't going upin one of those things for nothing", he would often state, "If God wanted me to fly, I would have wings"! Grandpa further recounted how during World War II, in London, he used to watch all those planes come flying in, and how some of them crashed on the airfield. When it was explained to grandpa that German anti-aircraft fire may have had something to do with that he would reply, "I don't care, I still remember". So, the closest that George had ever come to flying was taking the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building.

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