The boy turned fourteen so his mother held a small family party. It was just dinner, no cake and ice cream; it seems fourteen is beyond that. My use of the word ‘mismatched’ is the best I could think of to examine this group of individuals. ‘Mismatched’ doesn’t necessarily mean each pair of people is mismatched, although they might well be.
Each guest is somehow not a match to the others. To begin with, I am the oldest of the family group – the eight plus one – that gathered for the… uh… party. I mismatch most everyone there: I’m the only Jew, I’m second generation Canadian, I’m not related by blood to anyone else there and I’m married to a Hungarian woman who is the mother of the Hungarian husband of the birthday boy’s mother. The boy is from a previous relationship his mother was in. He was noticeably uninterested in the celebration of his birthday.
The boy is related to his mother but not to her husband. The husband is related to my wife but not to me. That is not to say that the husband and I are not close. We are. Still, you can see some of the mismatch, even with me having gone to Budapest to marry my love by the River Danube. It is my fourth marriage and by far the best
Another individual at the gathering was my favourite, the five-year-old half-sister of the boy, born of his mother and her husband, the son of my wife. She is my granddaughter even without blood. While her parents pursued their careers, my wife (her actual grandmother) and I raised her every day until she was through preschool. Since then, she is with us from about four in the afternoon until six or seven when we deliver her to her parents’ home, a couple of blocks away. She’s a joy, and I’m determined to live to near one hundred so I can watch her become something great. She draws, dances, sings and speaks English, French, and Hungarian and has begun Spanish.
The boy and his half-sister have grandfathers by blood, but they are relatively uninterested in them. There is another grandmother as well – the mother of the mother of the boy and the little half-sister. She is no longer married to the father of the boy’s mother. She has been living for some time with a tall, bearded German gentleman who clearly doesn’t understand children. Their grandmother does understand because she was a teacher. But she’s cold, as is her daughter, the mother of the boy and little girl.
The ‘Plus One” is a blood grandfather, the ex-husband of the other grandmother and father of the mother of the two kids. He’s a small, pale, whispery creep who, although educated as an engineer, lives on welfare in a basement where he makes model planes. He means nothing to the kids.
The remaining grandfather is the ex-husband of my wife and father of the little girl’s father, my stepson. He was not at the gathering because he’s a hermit and never goes out. He’s an educated chemist, and he lives alone in a one-room flat and eats Sara Lee cakes and drinks a bit of Heineken.
My own children decided to not have children as it would interfere with their personal lives. I’m happy for them, although I would have loved to have grand-kids. Now, thanks to my stepson and his wife, I’ve been given the opportunity to pass myself on to this brilliant little girl. I have been dedicated to her since the day she was born. I love her, and she loves me. She says I’m her only grandpa, and we both know what she means.