After our West Virginia visit this fall, I came home with some pictures of the Manka side of the family. Looking at those pictures got me thinking of the legacy my grandparents left to me. Grandma & Grandpa were a dynamic duo, and I’m sure I don’t know even half their story! (They both passed away before I was in high school.) Wish I could hear them tell their stories in their own words.Grandpa was a chemical engineer for Pittsburgh’s Jones and Laughlin Steel Company. He edited a book that was published in 1982 entitled Automated Stream Analysis for Process Control. You can actually still purchase it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. He loved the National Parks, and saved up his vacation time to take his family on extended camping trips in the parks. As a result, three of his four boys have worked in National Parks across the country (Shenandoah, Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Everglades, and many more). Of course, the parks belong to all Americans, but because they are woven into the fabric of my heritage, I feel a familial connection with them.
Grandma was pretty amazing herself–raising four sons, volunteering for various community organizations and serving as president of the Pittsburgh Women’s Club for one term and vice president for two. She and Grandpa loved to travel, and they visited over 100 foreign countries. That love of travel was passed down to their children and grandchildren. I’m sure that’s where I get my wanderlust. I don’t think I’m capable of picking just one place to live for the rest of my entire life.
Apparently they were both musical. Though the above picture was staged, Grandpa played the piano and Grandma, the violin. One of my uncles plays the banjo, and if you know my dad at all, you’re well aware that he plays about thirty instruments. My sisters and I grew up in a home full of music and instruments, and we’re continuing the tradition.
Although Grandpa and Grandma are gone, their love for learning, travel, music, nature and science–just to name a few–is mine to keep.