My grandpa is turning 90 today.
He was born in what is now known as the Czech Republic. Back in 1929, it was part of Germany.
As the Reich crumbled in the second world war, he, his sister, parents, and pretty much everybody else in his village were forced to leave their homes. Imagine being told in the evening that you had to leave your house the next morning at dawn. And you can just bring with you what you can carry. You know that you might never see your home again.
I’ve listened to his recall of the events so many times, but I still can’t really imagine what that must be like.
They walked for days on end until they reached Germany. Once arrived, they were left to their own devices without any place they could turn to. They had to beg for food and shelter.
Eventually, my grandpa landed in the village where he still lives to this day. He got a job with a local carpenter, 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, earning a tiny salary. That’s when he met my grandma who worked at the bakery.
After a few years, he got really good at his job. So good that he could even establish his own workshop. That must have been such a great moment … from owning nothing to business owner.
He really has seen a lot in his life. The Nazi regime. The German Democratic Republic as part of the Soviet Union. And today.
He tells me that this was all quite a lot to process and he’s tired. He can’t keep up with what’s happening now in the world. Can’t blame him.
All in all, I’m super proud of him. Whenever I catch myself complaining about “first world problems” I think about where he came from and what he had to deal with. And the weight of my problems vanishes immediately …