My maternal grandfather Eugene Casimir Bosiacki was a quiet man who weighed over 400 pounds when he died in July of 1993. Though he was passionate about polka, golf and food, my sister and I could never get him to talk about his time missing in action as an Aerial Gunner in World War II.
Through the hushed whispers of other family members who attended his funeral, we learned of the squalid, deprived conditions in which he spent four weeks waiting for rescue in the Philippines. Conditions that left him with a lifelong distaste for insects.
When Poppa (as Jenny and I called him) retired from a long career in sales, he took up a second vocation that united his love of silence and keeping the environment bug-free. Poppa went down to the corner drugstore, bought himself a blue fly swatter, filled a giant plastic cup with water and commenced the soldier’s version of neighborhood watch. Sitting sentry, Poppa surveyed the kids on the block at play, scrutinized suspicious characters and most importantly, leveraged that omnipresent blue fly swatter to disabuse flying critters with notions of sharing his space.
Having grown up in immense poverty before joining the Air Force at age 15 after expulsion from an orphanage, I don’t think Poppa knew much of control or choice in his life. But he could decide how many of his thoughts were shared – and what earned the right to fly into his home.