Grandpa’s wishes

Peace Corps / Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

I’ve been spending the past few weeks visiting people that I know I won’t be seeing for a while and getting ready for a going away party to take care of it in a lump sum.

This past Monday, I met with a friend who left Tuesday for a semester abroad in Italy. She said she’s been doing the same and mixing packing in when she has time. I think she had an easier time visiting people than I did because she’ll be back home later this year. There’s a lot more that I have to take into account.

I don’t see my grandparents on my father’s side too often. They’ve lived in the same house for more than the past four decades, located in the South-side of Chicago. It isn’t a long drive to visit but my grandparents don’t like driving unless they have to and my parents don’t like the neighborhood (it goes through cycles between being a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ neighborhood, usually hovering around ‘bad’). In addition, I’ve been too busy with school the past few years to accompany my parents down for the bi-annual visits.

Seeing as how I’m leaving this month, I asked that we go down for a last visit before I leave. Saturday, my father and I drove down.

It was nice. Two of my three uncles on my dad’s side, my aunt and both my grandparents were around and I got to talk with all of them before I left.

Everyone seemed genuinely worried about my safety. I gave them the best assurances that I could based off of what I’ve heard from the Peace Corps that I wouldn’t be placed in harms way. However, that doesn’t mean harm won’t come looking for me. My uncle Tommy was still convinced that I needed more protection than my pocket knife would offer; he kept trying to give me an Army boot knife to take with me. I tried explaining that it wouldn’t be easy explaining why I had with when I went through customs. Still, it was nice to know people were looking out for me.

My grandma seemed most interested in what sort of communication I’d have with home. She wanted to know if I’d be able to send pictures for her to share. I assured her that I’d do my best. Trust me, I will. (If you’d also like to receive email updates, drop me an email at

My aunt Cathy wanted me to write her, and she assured me she’d write back. She didn’t seem to think that it could be as interesting as what I had to say, but she’d write anyway. I don’t think I managed to tell her that any word from home would be interesting to me, even the seemingly mundane.

My uncle David seemed genuinely impressed that his brother’s son was going to do something drastically different than the rest of the family had done. I think his remark was, “You’re definitely one of Joey’s[sic] kids.” Just think what he would have though had my dad told him that my sister is in the process of applying for Teach for America.

Then there’s my grandpa. He’s always been a quiet man with little to say. He gave me only two pieces of advice for my time in Ukraine. The first, don’t look up our relatives in Poland. He’s never met them but they’ve tried getting him to send them money on numerous occasions. He doesn’t want me to have to deal with that. Don’t worry grandpa, I won’t hand out money to relatives I don’t know. The second piece of advice came as I was hugging my grandpa goodbye. He leaned in and said, “Find yourself a girlfriend in the Ukraine.”

Because you asked Grandpa, I’ll see what I can do.

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