I count myself as a fortunate son. Some children are raised without a father. Others grow up with fathers who are deeply flawed either by abusiveness, addictions or temperaments that hurt their children, sometimes for a lifetime.
At age 8 or 9, playing in the backyard, I recall that it suddenly occurred to me, and I don’t know why, that my father loved me deeply. This knowledge never left me and has been a source of great comfort.
Like many immigrant men of the WWII generation who left their native land, my father was faced with a series of losses. He lost his homeland, his friends, his way of making a living. The family he was born into was left behind; the world he had known and loved was gone.
I know some of these losses hurt him incredibly. Yet I didn’t hear him complain. Instead he taught us that what matters is not what happens to you but how you react to the events- what kind of person you become. He showed that it was possible to endure, make sacrifices, and still find a measure of happiness.
My father was a faith-filled man, which gave him strength. His example encouraged us, my sister and me, to want to be like him.
He was patient, thoughtful and measured in his responses- teaching us the value of these traits. Honor and decency were embedded in his character. He used the word “becsület” frequently with me – and I never forgot.
He was encouraging, never harshly critical and allowed us to decide our own pathways. He taught us to value education. During my high school years, we helped at his restaurant and marveled at his capacity to work hard – another unspoken lesson.
Yes indeed, I AM a fortunate son – still striving to emulate my father and his qualities, and hoping they will be passed on to my children and the generations to come.
Elmer L. Meszaros