Today is my grandfather’s birthday. He was born in 1905. I was only seven years old when he passed away. His name was Howard, but I called him Grandpa. He was the only grandparent I knew. Both my parents were what you call “oops” babies. So by the time I came along, my mother’s father was the only one left. Even in the short seven years that I knew him, I was left with many fond memories. Even today I am reminded of him frequently. Every time I pull next to a CTA bus at a stoplight, I always allow the driver to pull ahead and merge into traffic. My grandfather worked for the CTA for 41 years, first as a streetcar conductor then as a bus driver. Every time I see a bus driver being cut off, I think about my grandpa and what a pain in the ass it must have been to drive a bus in the city.
It wasn’t until I sat down with my parents a couple years ago, to work on a family tree project, that I realized how much I missed out by not knowing my grandparents. The stories my parents shared and the pictures I went through, told of a time that I wanted to learn more about. Hearing about my grandparents’ childhood and how they eventually met and married, allowed me to step back in time, to a simpler way of life. I never grew tired of listening to the stories.
I am always amazed when I run into people my age and hear that they have grandparents still living. I quickly remind them of how very lucky they are to have such a gift. Many of them realize this, but I always feel the need to mention it. Sometimes, I’ll even ask if they have ever interviewed their grandparents. If they have taken the time to sit down with them and really learn about their life. It’s truly amazing how much we can learn about ourselves when we take the time to learn about where we came from. What I wouldn’t do to have the chance to sit down with any of my grandparents and have a conversation. To hear first hand about the joys and struggles they experienced. To ask my Grandpa Roche how he proposed to my grandma. To ask my Grandma Roche how she dealt with saying goodbye to her husband, of only two weeks, when he left for World War I. To ask my Grandpa Taluzek (Howard) how he managed to take on the role of “man of the house” at the young age of 12, after his father died at the age of 39. To ask my Grandma Taluzek what it was like to be raised by Swedish immigrant parents. If only I had the opportunity.
“Grandparents are a family’s greatest treasure, the founders of a loving legacy, The greatest storytellers, the keepers of traditions that linger on in cherished memory. Grandparents are the family’s strong foundation. Their very special love sets them apart. Through happiness and sorrow, through their special love and caring, grandparents keep a family close at heart.” – Author Unknown
I hope I have instilled in my children the importance of grandparents. To take every hug and kiss, and cherish them. To spend quality time listening and learning from their grandparents. Three of my four children were blessed to have met all four of their grandparents. As for my youngest child, she will hear so many stories about my mother as she grows up, I hope she feels close to her.
On September 9th we will be celebrating Grandparents Day. A day set aside to honor our grandparents and thank them for everything they have done for us. However, taking just one day out of the year just doesn’t seem like enough time. Take every moment you have to remind them how important they are.
A brief note to my Grandparents.
I never had the chance to sit and hear your story. How I wish I could have spent time with you, listening about your hardships and successes. I would have loved to have learned about your life, in your own words. I would have treated those moments like treasures, preserving every memory. And even though we never had the opportunity to share a special bond, I feel like I know you. My parents did a great job of that. I want to thank you for everything you have done. Without you all, there would be no me.
Love, Your Granddaughter