I Wish I Had Gotten To Know You Better

3 Jan

The number 13 really runs in my family when it comes to birthdays. My Mom, oldest cousin S and myself were born on the 13th of various months. My Granny’s birthday is March 1st or 1-3 so basically a 13. Today is January 3rd which means my Grandpa would have been 91 today if he was still around. Even he has a variation of that 13 in his birth date, especially if you write the date down the American way. I just think this is really cool and I cannot remember but I believe my great-grandma was also born on the 13th of some month or was it my great-grandpa? Not sure.

Happy 91st Birthday Grandpa!

I wish he would have been around longer but sadly, he died over 20 years ago and I barely have memories of him. Granny told me a lot of stories though, some of them I’ve heard many, many times and others are new to me.

After my grandparents got married they decided to start their own company which basically meant working non-stop and being poor as hell. Soon my mom was born which was a great source of joy but times were hard -money was tight. Granny says, she sometimes wasn’t sure if she could afford to buy bread or not. They worked so hard and they made it. They stuck together and just kept going and I love this but then again, they really had no other choice. Even when Grandpa got sick they managed to get through it and come up on the other side. Things were never easy for them but they became quite wealthy for the time and place. Granny’s parents helped them though, mostly with paying for food or clothes in the early days. So when my grandparents finally were doing a bit better, Grandpa got his family-in-law a TV. Mind you, those were the late 50s or early 60s so these things were rare and fantastic and a HUGE deal. As things went back then, it was some kind of deal Grandpa made with the guy selling TVs and it was meant as a thank you for everything his in-laws had done for them. They became one of the first people in their neighbourhood with a TV!

But Grandpa was not only a hard worker, a kind and generous guy, he also had a sense of humour. When my great-grandparents first got their telephone, he pranked them. Back in the days, the telephone was a monopoly  owned and operated by the ‘Deutsche Post’ our then also monopoly postal service. So after the telephone line was installed and operational, Grandpa called his in-laws pretending he was the  Post-Minister and wanted to congratulate them on their new phone line. Needless to say, my great-grandparents were flabbergasted and taking this seriously. They were beyond excited that such a busy man took the time out of his day to phone them and do something like that, just Wow! So they giddily tell my grandparents about the call and  Grandpa cannot keep it together and tells them that it was him calling. I just love this story because it is so ridiculous and cute.

Grandpa was not perfect, nobody is. I’ve heard stories of him getting drunk at parties, being impulsive, making Granny mad or happy – sometimes both at once, showing his love and just being him.

Mom was their first-born and they were debating names. I believe they settled on Dorothee so Grandpa goes to the civil registry to get their daughter registered and he comes home to Granny later telling her that their daughter’s name was not Dorothee as they previously agreed upon but Ingeborg. BAM! So much for talking about stuff that matters. With my uncle, Granny didn’t even pretend to choose a name and let Grandpa work his magic. That’s love you guys!

I believe my ability to fix things around the house and my interest in technology must be credited to him – not that he taught me to do so by himself but that it is in my blood because of him. He was a handy man and quite the inventor in his field. Most of my family is good with numbers and technical stuff – Mom studied Business Administration and my uncle has a PhD in physics. I love math and science and technology. Need I say more?!

Even though he was already quite sick back then, I was their first grand-baby and he couldn’t get enough of me. I would have loved to grow up with him more than I did – with the actual person and not just the stories. I wish he could see how the little girl he loved so much turned out – how she shares his love for office supplies and sports and so many other things, how she shares the colour of his eyes. I really hope he is celebrating the shit out of this day with Mom in heaven!

Happy freaking Birthday, Grandpa!

I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you!


13 Responses to “I Wish I Had Gotten To Know You Better”

  1. Lorraine January 4, 2013 at 17:47 #

    1.) I think that is so cute that you all have the number 13 running through your birthdays.

    2.) I love that he changed your mother’s name last minute. You grandpas was AWESOME.

    • Wilhelmina Upton January 4, 2013 at 20:09 #

      Yes, almost as if we planned it, which we totally didn’t. Well, my uncle and his daughter stray away from the 13 rule but whatever.

      I love it too but I probably would have been pissed as hell if it had been me instead of my Granny.

  2. viveka January 4, 2013 at 15:18 #

    91 years old … wonderful – and what a fantastic tribute to him .. this post is. Wonderful written – with love, care and respect. My mum will be 91 this year too – that is a really long life they both had.

    • Wilhelmina Upton January 4, 2013 at 15:21 #

      Oh yes it is, or would have been. He only turned 70 I think before he died but still.

      • viveka January 4, 2013 at 15:22 #

        Sorry, I missed that one – far too soon.

        • Wilhelmina Upton January 4, 2013 at 15:23 #

          No problem. I guess that’s the story of my family :) But wow, your Mom will be 91 this year? That’s amazing!

          • viveka January 4, 2013 at 15:24 #

            Yes, all women in our family becomes well over 90 and she are crystal clear.

          • Wilhelmina Upton January 4, 2013 at 15:25 #

            As long as your clear in the head and not riddled with disease, it’s a good thing I guess :)

          • viveka January 4, 2013 at 15:27 #

            My mums body .. isn’t in a great shape … she are spending her days in a wheelchair, her hearing isn’t great .. and sight nearly nothing. Not fair.

          • Wilhelmina Upton January 4, 2013 at 15:28 #

            Yes, that is not fair or a good way to spend your days. Sorry.

          • viveka January 4, 2013 at 15:29 #

            Part of life … for some of us, but so unfair.

  3. rmiles January 4, 2013 at 06:50 #

    Yay for Grandpa! Good piece that brings back some of my same yearnings for my Grandfathers.

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