Unconditional, grandmotherly love

Humans of William and Mary is collaborating with Health Outreach Peer Educators​ to facilitate a discussion about all kinds of relationships through the Red Flag Campaign W&M​. The Red Flag Campaign is a national campaign to raise awareness of healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors. This interview is part of that series. For more information, please follow the Red Flag Campaign W&M on Facebook. For other resources please check out: http://www.wm.edu/offices/deanofstudents/get-help-now/index.php

I’ve been thinking about my relationship with my grandparents because they’re still alive, but I almost feel bad being at school because they don’t know how to do technology, and I see them only four times a year. I want to spend time with them, and learn more about them, but they always ask about me. That’s been something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently.

I totally understand. have a lot of questions that I wish I could’ve asked my grandparents.

Exactly. My grandmother is from Hungary, and left during World War II, and I want to know everything about her experience with that, but she’s always saying, “You’re at school. I never see you.”

She lives in the U.S. now?

Yes, I’m from Philly and she lives there.

If you were to describe your relationship with your grandparents, even though you don’t see each other often, what would would say?

I would say they love me almost more unconditionally than my parents. They don’t see any of the bad things that I do. They love my youth, and they’re jealous of it, but I would say we’re really close. They’re so used to me being around all the time, and when I stop being around, it’s weird for them. I think my grandma gets sad about it.

Are there particular holidays that you’re not around for anymore?

I’m not really home for Easter anymore, which was a big thing we would do together. Even general stuff. In the fall, we would go pumpkin picking, but I’m not home for that anymore. It’s my grandma’s birthday in September, and she’s still one of those people that’s like, “It’s my birthday, everything needs to stop for it.” I forgot to call her this year, and I felt so bad.

Did she forgive you?

She forgave me. We’re good now.

Is your grandpa still around too?

Yes, he is.

Do you think you’re closer with your grandmother?

For sure. We are very similar people, so we always have a lot to talk about. She’s a big gossiper, so she wants to know everything.

That’s really funny. What are some kinds of questions that she asks you?

She wants to know everything about my life, details about everything. She knows all of my friends’ names. She wants to know who bothering me, if she needs to kill anyone, et cetera. She loves to know about my classes. She’s always been very academic. She still takes a class at a college every semester just because she likes to have papers and stuff to do. We talk about school a lot, we compare our workloads. She loves cooking. We talk about that a lot.

Do you ever talk about her experience in Hungary during World War II or is that not something you talk about with her?

We talk about it, but it doesn’t just come up. I do really want her to write everything down. Over the summer, I talked to her a lot about it, and I was like, “I really think you should take the time to write everything down. Write your experience down before it’s lost because my mom and I can’t say it the way you can say it. We talked about that a lot this summer. I would go over a couple times a week and get information from her.

What was her experience?

Her dad was the head of the Hungarian National Bank, so when the Nazis came through, they wanted him to work for them, but he said no, and he actually got sent to a work camp. Her mom was able to get them one-day passes to Austria, and they literally sewed all of their jewelry and everything important to them into their clothes and walked out the door and never came back. It’s a really, really cool story, and I don’t want it to get lost. She would obviously tell it so much better than I just did.

Has she been back to Hungary since then?

Yeah, she goes all the time. We have gone as a family: my mom and her brother, my grandparents and my cousins and I have all gone together. We still have a ton of family their.

So you feel like you have a pretty good connection to your heritage?

Definitely, I do.

If you could give a piece of advice to the William and Mary community, what would you tell them?

I would say take your earbuds out, put your phone away and look at this beautiful campus because you’re only here for four years, and you hear everyone say how much they miss it all the time. It makes me sad when people are walking around like… [mimics someone looking at their phone]. You’re not experiencing, you’re not here.

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