Monday, April 15, 2013

Third time's a charm: a tale of three grandpas

When I was 11, my grandpa got very sick. We didn't know until the very end but he had been fighting bone cancer for a long time and it hadn't been treated because the doctors insisted it was just diabetes complications. He was in hospice at home and I remember visiting and trying to avoid sitting in the living room because it was just too depressing to see the once vibrant man lying on the sofa hardly able to move. I also distinctly remember a “hospital smell” that didn't help things at all. One of the times we visited, I sneaked out of the house without going and saying good-bye. He died before I could see him again.

At 18, my grandpa died unexpectedly. My family was living in Europe at the time and only my mom was able to fly back for the funeral. I didn't feel the guilt like I did the first time because I hadn't chosen to ignore him but I still missed it.

My grandpa is retiring this year from his job as professor/choir director at my university. He has been one of the biggest inspirations in my life for the past seven years. I don't know how many classes I had with him in school (definitely more than 12). He accompanied me on both my junior and senior recitals as well as many juries and concerts. We roadtripped with assorted other music students to choral festivals. He was always ready to discuss problems and help in any way he could. I felt a huge connection to him from the very beginning which has only grown over the years. I could write on and on about this man and the impact he has had in my life but I'll sum it up pretty simply: if someday I am half the teacher he is, I will have done my job.

In front of University Choir

When I heard that he was retiring, I knew I had to make it home for his last concert. Thankfully, this was a much happier occasion than a funeral but I knew I would always regret it if I couldn't come. I wasn't going to let this opportunity slip through my fingers. I kept my trip a secret from almost everyone. I am friends with him on facebook so I was especially careful not to mention anything on there. By the week before my trip only four of my friends (and my immediate family) knew I would be in the States.

Teaching philosophy: every lesson should have an "AAhh," "Ahha," and "Haha" moment
Most of this blog post is being written while I sit in airports before and between my flights going back to Hungary. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to travel home for this concert. Yesterday, I spent most of the day in PA. I saw friends who I haven't seen in years. I had a chance to catch up with various professors. And, best of all, I saw the way his eyes lit up in shock when he realized I had come from Hungary just for the concert. He later mentioned it in the middle of the concert as he spoke of how touched he was that so many music alums had made it. “Someone even came all the way from Hungary. Yes, for real.” I had multiple people come up to me after saying they had no idea I was there until they heard what he said. 

In the end, I wouldn't change a thing about my trip. It was completely worth the cost and travel time even though I was traveling nearly as long as my time in the US. Besides the concert, I was able to spend time with another friend today (Monday), see my therapist, had a dr. appt, ate tons of Mexican food, enjoyed two full days of ungraded English conversation, purchased more stickers for my students, had a phone interview about my internship for next year, and spent time with my family. I've needed this trip with how lonely I have been (I had two friends last semester – one moved to Budapest, the other “broke up with me” because she claims she has too many meetings to ever see me).

With some of the other "music kids"
I might have messed things up the first two times with my grandpas but I have nothing to regret about this time.

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