Tuesday, May 4, 2010

George Brosz

Yesterday was a very odd day and I am still reeling from it. Sunday night I dreamt my grandfather died, it was a brief dream, I woke up for a minute then fell back asleep. When I woke up yesterday his favorite song, Paloma Querida, was in my head and I posted it as the song on my blog. Not even five minutes after I posted the song, my mom called to tell me my grandfather, George Brosz, had just passed away. I was with him a week ago in Sinaloa.

Grandpa George wasn't my blood grandfather but he was my grandfather and the man who raised my father and his siblings. Grandpa was born in South Dakota and moved to California in his youth. He fought in World War II in the army and always had great WWII stories, including dancing with Queen Elizabeth at a USO dance. He lost his right index finger while in the Army but not in battle, a roommate of his was playing with a grenade and dropped it. My grandfather was the only one who walked out of the room. He had all sorts of other survival stories. One night when he got up to pee he heard a crash and when he turned around an unexploded shell had landed squarely in his foxhole. He said he was being watched, that he believed God had plans for him. After the war he went to Berkeley and studied engineering and then worked for CalTrans, surveying roads.

In 1956 he was at a Tijuana restaurant when he fell in love with his waitress, a pregnant Mexican woman, my grandmother. My grandmother had fled her philandering husband in Sinaloa and was waiting tables, pregnant with her fourth child. My grandfather didn't care that they didn't speak the same language or that she had 3 children, including my father, and one on the way, he married her. They went down to Sinaloa and got the rest my grandmother's children and he brought them north. After arranging all the paperwork, he brought the entire family to San Diego. My grandmother and Grandpa George had three more children of their own. According to my dad and his non-Brosz siblings my grandfather always treated him like they were his own children and they loved him like a father.

My earliest memories of my grandfather are of me staring at the stump where his right index finger used to be and being fascinated by it. He always drank black coffee and smelled like Dial soap. He used to cut a cantaloupe in half, scoop the seeds out and fill the follow with vanilla ice cream, I thought it was the most magical thing. He loved telling jokes, dirty jokes especially and would often repeat the jokes over and over again but I loved him so much I didn't care. He loved food, he loved red wine. He loved taking his grandkids out to breakfast at Aunt Emma's pancake house. We loved being around him.

I'll miss him. He was a really great man and his love for my grandmother was a beautiful thing. He called her Goldis. When he was a kid in South Dakota he heard Mexican music on the radio and loved it. When he was an adult he fell in love with all things Mexican but he really had a thing for the music. Last week in Sinaloa he was singing along with the mariachis, drinking beer and tequila and eating freshly roasted pork. He lived every last drop he could, no apologizing.

Grandpa George and I had a few jokes between us that I really loved. When I was in my early twenties he was very concerned that I had ever been baptized and would always try to talk to me about getting baptized. One day I finally lost my temper and told him Grandpa, I'm never getting baptized. Deal with it! As soon as I said it I felt bad because I had snappedat him but he started cracking up. From then on every time I saw him he would shout Deal with it! I also had a gag with him that he always laughed at, I would look at his right hand, gasp and cry Grandpa! What happened to your finger? He thought I was hilarious.

He always supported me in my writing. When I was a teenager and writing really horrible poems he asked to see them. I showed them to him, even though I felt weird about it. After he read them he told me he didn't understand any of them but that I was a really good writer, that he could tell I was a deep thinker and he was very proud of me. He always asked me about my writing and gave me confidence early on to write. He said he always knew I was going to be a famous writer, he was very sweet in his encouragement.

When I was a teenager he also gave me advice about drinking. He said Elizabeth, only drink on two occasions, when you're alone or when you're with somebody.

I know I don't know all the details of his life and his children and other family members probably have a ton they can fill in. But I loved him, I love him. I'll miss him and his dirty jokes, the perpetual glass of red wine in his hand, his telling me to deal with it. While I was in Mexico the last couple of months he was tired, I could see he was getting ready. He slept a lot and spent a lot of time quietly contemplating things. He talked to me briefly about death, he wasn't scared. Every afternoon he would get into his wheelchair and wheel himself out on to the porch so he could see the sun set. He never wanted to miss a sunset. He was a beautiful man.

pay attention at 42 seconds, this was the only song he sung along to.


FlorEspinosa said...

Thank you for sharing your Grandfather with us. I adore senior citizens and their stories. I have an 86 yr old friend and I ask her to tell me how she met her husband during WWII. I love hearing my Mom, Dad, and relatives tell stories about "back in the day". You are blessed to have this beautiful man in your life, and he is with his Goldis at last. Lizz, one thing I have come to believe, and it has helped me, is that one's death on Earth, is their birth in Heaven. He is being welcomed and celebrated at this moment. All My Love, Raquel

Andy said...

Bless grampa George and the Huerta family.

lucindagoodwin said...

Thanks for sharing your memories of your grandfather. Reading your post brought tears to my eyes. At the funeral I heard the stories of the foxholes, the cantaloup and ice cream and the jokes, but as I read your post I found out about the things I didnt know and wondered bout... such as the missing index finger... I always noticed it, but never asked (damn that shyness of mine). When I found out in junior high that the four oldest were surnamed Huerta and not Brosz, Iasked my mom why, and she explained to me that George (or "Jorge" as she called him) married Maria and took in the kids and raised them as his own ... but I never knew the story of how they met til now. Thank you so much for sharing this.