It’s almost midnight on March 24, the weekend of birthdays and parties, and after reading another Russian student’s blog I’m inspired to prioritize – while there is still homework to be done for class tomorrow, what matters more in the end? My pass/fail grade, or my most important thoughts and memories from literally the adventure of a lifetime? Yeah, that’s what I thought too.
So I want to begin with a long and drawn-out tribute that is far too long in coming. I get a little teary-eyed writing this, as I have every time I’ve composed these words on the bus ride home, while bored in class, or in random moments at home with Tatiana: Gramdad would love this place.
There are so many sights, sounds, and happenings that remind me of my late grandfather, Jack Bitter. Every time I visit a certain friends apartment, and see the innovative way her host family has rigged the toilet paper holder, I smile and think how he would do something just like that. When Tatiana’s father, Vladimir Vasilich, comes to visit, I am literally overwhelmed sometimes by the similarities. I’ve mentioned before that he comes over to help fix the pipes or whatever else needs looking at, just like Gramdad always did. And when meeting me, even though he is a man of maybe 80 and not likely to be very open-minded, he slowed down his speech and listened to what I had to say, just like Gramdad did when meeting our Hispanic friend years ago. He was a man out of his time, with the best qualities of back then and now. These people would completely fascinate him, and I know his curiosity would absolutely get the best of him in this strangely efficient yet utterly odd country.
And really, this entire trip is a tribute to him. Let’s review.
Why am I here?
-To study Russian.
Why am I studying Russian?
-Because the Air Force is paying me too (also because I love it, but lets stick to the cards)
Why did I choose to join the Air Force?
-Well there you have it.
Long story short, my entire life right now – my major, my career path, everything – is what it is because of this great man. I constantly think of new things that I wish I would have asked him. I would call them regrets, but any time with him I cherished and I just can’t bring myself to say that. I hope every day that I seize the opportunities he would, and follow my curiosity to the end of its path, learning everything there is to learn. Because thinking critically and finding out the truth (or even the truth behind the truth) was something he loved. And I’m sad to say that I don’t think he gets enough credit, from me or anyone else. So I think he deserves this post all to himself.
Rest in peace Gramdad. You are dearly missed.