April 23, 1968.
He was always in a hurry.
So, of course, George was born eleven days before his due date, after 45 minutes of hard labor (trust me!) and came into this world crying lustily.
His strong, melodic voice would be one of his trademarks. He had a full head of black hair, ham-like fists, weighed 8 lbs 9 oz and was alert and ready to go.
From that day, George was a delight. He was an early riser, much to my dismay, but even as an infant, as I peered into his crib, a big smile greeted me. Another one of his trademarks, a smile of such joy and light, that one always had to smile back. No one ever speaks of George without mentioning that smile. And, on his last day of life, in that final moment, he smiled, truly.
George always loved the outdoors. He would play hard, wear his coat open even in the coldest of weather, stay out till the streetlights came on. He was physically powerful, full of determination, even tempered except for maybe once a year. Honest! One of my favorite memories is of George at four years old, running into the house and begging us to take the training wheels off his new two wheel bike. With some trepidation, I maneuvered them off. George hopped on that bike, sped off and never looked back. I learned who he really was on that day.
The neighbors all knew George. On those cold Michigan days when the snow fell, covering our driveways and sidewalks, George would grab a shovel, mosey over to any neighbor and start shoveling the snow. When they offered to pay him, he would just smile, nod no and head over to another house. He loved to be physical, to be strong, to be helpful. Jeannie and John K. still talk about
When he was a little older and his Dad would cut our grass, George would cast a critical eye, mentioning that when he had his own home, his grass would be perfect as would all his landscaping, paint, windows etc. And, they were.
George had a period of time when he was very overweight. He "blossomed" when he was about nine years old until he became a Greek idol around 13 years of age. He was often ridiculed by so many ignorant teens, even adults. It scarred him emotionally, but it also reinforced the great sense of compassion that was innately his.
One day in junior high (as it was called then) a classmate, Jimmie, was being bullied verbally and physically in class. Kids who didn't know the smiling, slow moving, non confrontational George, underestimated him. George tried to get them to stop their bullying, to no avail. So, George tossed a few of them to the ground, straddled them and they soon saw their error. Of course, he got into trouble with the principal of the school but we were so proud of his actions and we told him. As usual, it was no big deal to George.
George had a great sense of humor, loved joking around and playing tricks on friends and family alike. His high school and college friends can tell tales that we never heard, and you will have to hope that you can find one of them to regale you with the stories. When he was working a few years ago at his business, he would call customers, use his old Greek accent, and confuse the poor guy who answered the phone with complaints. Even when he was pinned to his bed with pain and paralysis, I watched him call the National Ladder line, issue a nonsensical list of complaints, impossible to comprehend, hang up and laugh his head off. He always hoped he would get an answer back.
Then, of course, there are the stories that his sisters can tell. How he would scare off the boys who had the nerve to think of dating the girls. And, the time a party was held at our home when the parents were not there and when George came home, everybody got thrown out much to Dana's embarrassment.
Or how about the time he got so mad at her, he unscrewed the hinges on the bathroom door where she had run to hide, and took the door off? Yep, lots of stories that I never heard until years later.
He loved to sing, opera, pops, country...all of it. He had a flair for language and a powerful, true voice. We loved when the kids were in bed and they would harmonize from their rooms, late at night. He did the same thing when he was a husband and dad, always crooning. On the last days when his wife and older kids visited, he sang "Everything is going to be all right" to them".
Jump ahead to what George the man became. He married the girl of his dreams, had a successful business career (he was ALWAYS a dedicated, hard worker), four beloved children and a dog. He loved being married, always improving his home, hanging with his wife and kids, just being together. That is who George was, and what meant the most to him in life. He honored and revered family. He never worshipped material gain, trends, envy. He lived for a moral life, personal contentment and good health. Of course, the last element was cruelly taken from him, changing his destiny forever.
There is so much more. George had his flaws, of course, but he really tried to live a moral, clean, simple life. He was charitable, seldom revealing his good deeds. He was loyal and respectful. All the time he was sick and declining with his MS, he expressed his love and appreciation for our care. He blamed no one for what MS did to his life, and wanted only for his family to be able to move on, be happy, secure and successful.
In this blog, he told of who he was, before and after MS attacked him. He missed his hunting, fishing, golf, his best buddy...yes, you Gordie. From his bed, his prison, he still arranged for his kids to visit, to have their school lunches, their sports, programs and gifts. He managed to send his mother-in-law flowers for her birthday, flowers for a funeral of a client whose Dad had died. His MS did not take away the essence of the man that George was.....caring, loving, compassionate, loyal. humorous, humble. During the last years of his life, when MS was in charge,when his only lifeline was an I-phone, he still managed to worry about others, encourage them, listen to their troubles, enjoy their triumphs, stories of their kids, work.
As his parents, his Dad and I could write pages about our son. But, we will not, for his blog reveals the man that he was through his own words.
As this sad anniversary of his death approaches, I wanted to have you meet George as he was before MS defined his every moment. He was a man of joy, love and humility. He was a man to be loved, and we all did, every moment that he shared with us on this earth.
Our love for him is boundless, and our memories are precious.
Now, perhaps, you know more of the George Bokos, The Greek from Detroit,
before MS. May you hold his memory in your hearts, and may his words continue to enlighten all who read them.
March 1, 2014