What I know about about Maria (Mary) Lodyn, my paternal grandmother, could not fill a page of double-spaced paper. I know that she was born in Austria around 1895, that her maiden name was Kuzniak, that she had at least one brother, that she married Peter Lodyn (whose real last name I don’t know), that she had two children (Mike, my father, and Anna), and that she died in 1970. I have no idea who her parents were, when she came to the United States, how she got here, when she married my grandfather, why and when she and Grandpa changed their last name, that she apparently could read and write, how she died, or anything else about her. I suppose that she wanted it that way. The best part about this is that I discovered more about her in the last two or three days than I knew in the entirety of my life. Yay, Google, but isn’t that sad?
If it says anything about how my paternal grandparents were, they cut off communication with us within a week or so of my father’s death. On his final day of life, my father had delivered a pot of fish which he had caught to t his parents, and my mother needed the pot back. One of my high school friends, Kathy, accompanied me to my grandparents’ house so I could pick up it up. I will admit that I had little-to-no desire to see them in the first place, and having Kathy with me made me a little braver. We had barely stepped into the house when my grandmother attacked me.
“You kill my Mikey,” she shrieked. Stunned, Kathy and I stood still, and the old woman pushed me with her hands. “You. You mother bury him wit nothing on.” I didn’t move as my grandmother continued to shout and push. “He cold. He come to me at night and cry because he cold.”
My grandfather finally ran interference, pulled my grandmother into the kitchen, shoved the pot at my chest, and forced Kathy and me from the house.
“You go now. Get out,” he said as he latched the door.
The firestorm of followed that depressing display burned what little association we had left with that part of my father, and we never saw our paternal grandparents alive again. Five months later, my mom’s sister, Vera, called the house. “The old lady’s dead,” she announced. That was our only notification. She didn’t want us there in life, and she didn’t want us there when she was gone.
I admit that I held onto anger for a few years. I couldn’t understand the prejudice that kept them from connecting with their own flesh and blood. As I got older, though, I stopped thinking about them at all. Age. Maturity. Indifference. I don’t know what it was that changed me, but I honestly hold no anger toward them today; I mostly feel nothing except for a little sadness at thinking of what they missed out on because of their ignorant prejudices. That is, however, a moot point since we cannot change the past; we can only hope to improve the future.