My Grandfather, Stephen Joesph Kovacs, passed away this morning. He was married to Roberta Childers Kovacs who proceeded him on his heavenly journey many years ago. They had two sons, my father Robert and my uncle John.
My Grandfather was my first hero. Though certainly not a perfect man, to me he represented my history, where I came from. Because much of my life was spent distant from my mother’s family, any reflection on my childhood is measured by my memories of him. I recall so little of my childhood that at times I wonder if I were hatched as a self-involved 13 year old boy. But frequently my memories of him will remind me of earlier times. Those memories must stand out so for a reason, perhaps because they represented some of the happiest moments of my childhood.
From spending Chrstmas at his house looking at the elaborate train sets he would create for us. I can recall him saying frequently that “its not Christmas without a train set”. To summer trips to Kings Dominion where we rode his beloved Mighty Mouse Roller coaster together and he would swing the Parrots out over the lake as the ride would spin. To Sundays spent at his house watching football as he always had a supply of Coke and sumersausage with chips for snacking and he would teach us math on scrap pieces of paper.
To the stories . . . . oh how I have, and will, miss those stories. From hearing him tell of the day the stock market crashed, how the “Hunks” made illegal liquor during prohibition and made the kids stomp cabbage into sauerkraut, to his joining the Civilian Conservation Corps and working in Glacier National Park in Montana. To enlisting in the Marine Corps in World War Two where we both learned to lament the cost of war. He on Tarawa and Guadal Cannal and I at his feet listening so many years later. He was awarded the Purple Heart on Tarawaas part of the second wave of Marines sent ashore. And later joined the Army on the way to Korea. Where he spent some time working in Tokyo Army Hospital in Japan. And yes there was the Syphilis story . . .which no one heard more often than Lauren.
I think he is the one that taught me about the pleasure of a cup of coffee after a good meal and the protection provided by a glass of orange juice in the morning. That you could “have what ever you wanted” so long as you cleaned up after yourself and didn’t waste what you were given.
I attribute my willingness to give people a second chance to my Grandmother’s example and no one stressed her capacity to forgive more than my Grandfather. But she did and we are all better off for it. As I said he was not perfect and the stories . . .no lessons . . . . he shared with me, especially as I got older, were not always rosy tales. But there is something to be learned from each of them. I know he struggled at times with internal demons that questioned if he had done enough to earn the love that was shared with him. And I think he felt as though he was atoning for his sins.
My father called me this moring to tell me things were not going well and I beleive that he passed while my father was speaking to me. I went to the nursing home this morning even after receiving a second call a couple of minutes later from my Mom telling me he had passed. On my way there I was warmly recalling my memories of him and then realized that his struggle to put his demons to sleep was now over but more importantly I realized that he had never . . .ever . . . let ME down. While he struggled with some . . .my memories of him are warm and full of love, and his lessons are intact.
His love for me and my family was unassailable . . . he owed me nothing and still never let me down.
As I sat in his room today with his remains, I reached over and picked up the New Testament from the top of the TV. I beleive what God wants you to know you can find by opening the Book to a random page and when I did and this was the first thing I read:
Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops
I take this to be God’s reassuring message that my Grandfather’s request for his mercy and forgiveness has been heard and that it has been my duty to ensure it was proclaimed from the rooftops! Thank you God for hearing his prayers and mine!
I Love My Pop-Pop and one day I lookforward to hearing his tales again and sharing with him some of my own.
Love You Pops and I Already Miss You!