This is a true story.
I grew up with my grandparents in a small country in the heart of Europe. Back then it belonged to Yugoslavia. Much like Bill’s lovely wife I was raised in a socialist system. Except all my memories are fond.
My grandpa was a high-ranking officer in National army. He joined the Academy young, not long after the 2nd world war ended. Like many of his peers, being a child of war gave him a unique perspective on life. He was a proud and hardworking man. But most of all, he was a man of honor.
Back at the end of 60’s, the town near Lake Bled planned to build a campsite for tourists to enjoy. The area was marshy and a few contractors failed to drain it properly. The mayor contacted the government and my grandfather was asked to assist. He was an engineer and his department was deployed to give the grounds one last try.
It is of course a happy story. They managed to drain it, and since then, it has been a five star camping ground. In return my grandfather was offered a bid at a lot to build his dacha on. (Note from Bill - for those who don't know, a dacha is like a house in the country side...pretty much required for all people of society in Eastern European countries) He declined. Afterward he mentioned he had to stop at the chocolate factory to pick up some giant bars for his three daughters, but the mayor sent him some as a thank you.
My grandma repeated this story many times. I think there was a longing in her voice, regret that her husband never provided her with a luxurious summer retreat. He was a civic servant, an officer doing his job. She never understood him.
In socialism we were all given equal privileges and responsibilities; in return we were expected to be productive members of society. Grandpa was never politically involved, but he followed the principles and accepting a gift was against everything he stood for.
He was my role model, my hero. I hope one day, soon, my son and I go camping back home. I will tell him a story of his great grandfather. It is worth so much more then a summerhouse ever would be.
Thank you, Stasha, for sharing a truly touching story about your Grandpa. My wife's father is trained as a Marsh-draining engineer as well - small world. And also, thank you for showing the beauty of Communism - which is: if you do something good for the government, you can get some giant chocolate bars in return. And seriously, who doesn't like chocolate?
Go on over to Stasha's and check out her blog, which she shares with her adorable son who is gutsy enough to sport pink Chuck Taylor's and massive Newfoundland dog who does shag carpet impressions.