Life counts with toasts, though the dead is not the best drinking buddy.
Every little boy’s hero is his grandfather. Mine was unique. On 25 January it was 2 years he surprised us with his final trick. Unexpectedly, he left us. Sitting at the Melbourne airport, I am taking out of my bag my paper notebook. I start reading a text, which I put by side for almost a year.
A proud „Pressburger“, or more a citizen of Engerau, which was the name for Petržalka at the time it didn’t belong to the city of Bratislava yet. One of few, who at the beginning of the 21st century still remembered the time, when German and Hungarian used to be the city’s main languages. Slovak came on the third place. Though it wasn’t important what language is spoken, the Pressburgers could speak all three. They remembered a city of the first republic, a city without the national hate, its colorfulness, unforgettable wine bars, rich life in the streets or the Jewish synagogue. Until the moment it all changed, and they had to remember war and later the red plague too. The city has transformed, and suddenly the only language was Slovakian. If it was spoken; being silent became a better tactic during the following years.
They also remembered Inter ZŤS playing on the right river bank and Artmedia, who fought its way from the third division up to the absolute top. At the Sunday home matches every second week the Pressburgers would regularly meet. Later the killers of the soccer in Petržalka came, today only a field ready to be built on remembers the glory times. And it became less and less Pressburgers too.
As a small boy I admired his gallantness. A real gentleman. When the time of the video recorders arrived, the only movie he recorded at home was The Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day-Lewis. The first twenty minutes cut, it was still exciting. We watched it together very often. The same as cards we played at the balcony. „One scam, no scam“, he used to joke. None of us could survive losing so we stopped playing at some point. After I became adult, we liked to have „one“ after the lunch. I will never forget our drinking afternoon after I finished my second doctor degree. A bottle of wine (or more) was always on stock. His break-dance at one of the family celebrations became legendary. He was always an amusing guy and a star of every party. During my young years, it was the tradition to visit grandma and grandpa every Sunday afternoon, no matter what. We ate grandma’s cake and had a lot of fun.
He was the biggest sportsman I have ever known. He rode his bike during the whole year, in summer, winter, rain, snow. At the Christmas Eve too. At the local lake Draždiak he used to open the summer season, at his favorite bank. During our family vacations in Croatia in the 90’s he became immortal for his belly jumps into the sea. That was still at a time where he had few extra kilos, the whole beach had a lot of fun. He always waited for me in the finish of the National run Devín Bratislava, his bicycle in one hand, the bag with fruits from grandma in the other. He was the biggest supporter and later he would tell everybody if there would be something to tell. When there was a reason, he was always proud of us. With love in his heart and smile on his face.
Unfortunately, while the time is progressing the beloved ones tend to leave us in life. When the risky years knock on the door, you hope for some more. When there is a diagnosis, you want months. And when you are told to come and say goodbye, you desire few more days at least. Last Christmas with him were like a fairy tale. A farewell from a dream, I will dream it for the rest of my life. Since I was a kid, I used to ring on their bell for the last time after we left from grandma and grandpa. I would always scream „the last one“. On that Christmas Eve I did it for the last time.
It was quick. First an innocent sickness, which is quickly to be cured, just after that the last stage of a wrathful diagnosis. The word everybody is afraid of so much. C-a-n-c-e-r. It took all the energy out, from a vital healthy man.
One month later it was over. Two years have passed, and he is missed so much every single day. I think of him every time I jump on my bike. And I stopped ringing the bell when leaving from grandma.
Life counts with toasts, oh, how many we had! And all these beautiful memories, and all the amazing moments. Grandfather, every little boy’s hero. Every man’ hero. Ours was unique.
We will never forget.