Sunday, March 2, 2014

BEFORE MS; THE REAL GEORGE BOKOS....A FINAL TRIBUTE



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
that experience.

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








19 comments:

  1. George taught me a lot. I'll never forget him.

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  2. What a wonderful, loving tribute to your son. Thanks so much for sharing. I know him much better now.

    Mitch

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  3. George must be so proud of you for sharing his REAL self! Thank you for doing this. You are a remarkable mother~be blessed in many ways, Hilda!!

    Warmly, Jan

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  4. Beautiful - thank you for sharing!

    Krystie (Vrooman) Lee

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  5. Thanks to all of you for reading this last tribute to George.
    I had to find a way to reveal who he was before MS robbed him of his life.
    I love reading all the stories you tell about him, especially mentioning that
    glowing smile and great sense of humor.
    Hilda, George's Mom

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  6. Just beautiful. He was a lucky to have u as a mom as you were to have him as a son.

    Donna Canzoneri

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  7. What a beautiful tribute to George! Your writing captures his spirit with amazing clarity. It is so true, my parents have always remembered George with such high regard- and still compare every young man to him! I think about you everyday and hope you know I love your family so very much...except Dana, she's just ok;-)

    XO,
    Amy

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    1. Amy. you are too funny.
      Thanks for reading.
      You are a true friend.
      Mrs. B

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  8. Hilda,
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories. It is a joy to read about George's life.
    Most of us only knew him because we shared his experiences of living with this damn disease. He expressed so many of the feelings we understood and identified with.
    He touched our lives and he didn't even know us.
    How I even came across his blog I do not even remember now. But I'm so glad I did.
    I hope you continue to tell us more about your life with him, if not here then on your "xaidw speaks" blog.
    Please "tell us more, tell us more!"
    God bless.

    Dee/OH

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    1. Dee...hope you are "hanging in".
      It remains to be seen how much longer I have the wherewithal to write about George.
      I sometimes wonder if he just wants me to leave him in peace.
      Still like a strange dream.
      Hilda

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  9. He was a very kind and loving soul. Thank you for your writings.

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  10. Hilda,

    Thank you for the beautiful, heart rending post. I still can't believe that the strong and handsome friend I once knew was struck down by this insidious disease. I hadn't seen your son since our high school days at Stevenson. The only update I had on him was a picture from our 20th high school reunion in '06 (I couldn't go because I was in California for a wedding). One of the things that jumped out at me from that photo was how 20 years had done nothing to age him and if anything, had made him more handsome. He looked chiseled out of pure granite or marble. Michelangelo's David, come to life. God sure has a cruel sense of humor, taking him the way he did.

    I am glad that he started this blog and gave us all the honor and opportunity to get to know him a little more and the constant battle he was fighting with MS. While we were really mostly friends during elementary school, he left an indelible positive mark on my life. I'll always remember his smile, his good humor, his loyalty. I have to admit, I wish I had had a chance to see him in the last couple years, to tell him that he was important to many and not to despair of the fact that people sadly too often stay wrapped in their own little worlds, without inquiring how their friends are doing. That is a regret I'll have to carry with me. But the comforting thought that I have is that God called him home early because he wanted him as an angel to watch over all the ones he loved and loved him in return.

    May your grandchildren bless you with much happiness in the future and constantly remind you of the remarkable son you will see again one day, on that golden shore.

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    1. Mike,
      Thank you for your truly beautiful tribute to George.
      He did have a way of impacting people just with his good heart and great humor. It was so difficult to watch his decline mostly because he always was so strong and healthy as well as just happy to be alive and enjoy the simple pleasures.
      I will never be able to understand why he suffered so much, but so do many in life.
      It was hard, though, watching it happen to George.
      I hope that your life is going well and appreciate that you have George in your heart for all time.
      Hilda, George' s Mom

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  11. Hello Hilda,
    I am a girl from Canada ( with MS ) who thinks often of your son, George. I was so happy to read about him again through your memories. I recently re read The Wheelchair Kamikaze blog entry Marc wrote after George's death in way of remembering George. I, of course, never met George but I read his blog and saw the video made for the Myelin Repair Foundation. He was a beautiful man inside and out. I very much like his smile and his "take no prisoners " attitude.. This combination of "warm" and "hard" made him all very wonderfully human. Maybe, he was not a perfect man, but he was certainly a good one. Wishing you and the rest of his loving family a very happy life.

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    1. Dear girl from Canada,
      I am sorry that you have MS. George hated it.
      Today, April 23, is his birthday. He was a good man, and I cannot express how
      very empty I feel from his death and suffering.
      I am glad that he has touched you and others with his words.
      I can only hope that all of you will be cured soon.
      Hilda

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    2. Hi hilda (mom).

      WHat a wonderful post you had wrote remembering George for who he was and that was of a amazing man.. amazing son and brother.. amazing friend to many and a amazing bff, Hsi legacy will live with us and with me forever remembering all the great things that George did and what a great man he was and that of the lives he touched. Thank you for the wonderful packet in the mail I had got the other day and the pictures! When I saw his face and that smile I began reliving all the 18 yrs of memories. I sqat in my office chair and began to smile while looking at them and then in a blink of a eye began to weep because I missed my best friend, my mentor , my confidant, There is NEVER a day I don't think of him as I have his pictures by me on desk .. looking at him and sometimes wishing he was here or could call him to let him know what was on my mind. Sometimes I grab his picture and say "George what would you do.. I sure could use youre wisdom right now" He is my inspiration everyday and was when he and I worked together and even when were apart. I miss his laugh and that smile and all our little quirks and saying when we were together that nobody could understand but only us. Our minds worked alike and we both could tell what we were thinking and we would smile and say " ill go grab that for you" . I miss him terribly and still today find myself breaking down and then laughing out loud over the memories that we shared,. There has never been a man that has touched me so deeply in a positive and influential way and with his encouragement and his neverending belief in me has made me into the man I am today and with that will strive everyday to honor him and tell our and his stories to touch the lives of others. I love this man and his families as they are and will always be apart of my life until I go to be with George one day. Thank you again hilda for youre wonderful remeberances of youre amazing son who loved his family so much!

      Gordie

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    3. Gordie,
      Can never think of him without thinking of you. I know he had more laughs with you than with anyone else, and that is how I try to remember him. He loved being silly. Glad we can keep his memory alive and vital. He sure deserved better than he got, but being George, he handled it.
      Glad you liked the pictures.
      Take care, and I am sure if it is possible, he is still looking over your shoulder at all the fun in GR.
      Hilda

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  12. I yearn for you George. May you be in peace.

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