Fourteen years before, he was a frightened five-year-old boy on a boat, headed for America.
He didn’t understand why he had to leave his magnificent home in Hungary. He didn’t know what this America place was. But he did know that he didn’t want to go there.
On that rocky boat, he stuck close to his parents, grandmother, and extended family, listening to their chatter, thinking about his home and all his possessions that he left behind.
And as he stared at his drab surroundings on that day in 1949, listening to the adults soberly discuss what may be ahead, a dreadful realization settled over him:
They had nothing. They were starting over. And he was as poor as the beggars he used to see outside his gated home in Hungary.
But now, as he confidently strode through the campus of MIT on a brisk fall day, a wide smile spread over Joseph’s face. Those early days of his life seemed like someone else’s history now.
Life was good for Joseph. He was handsome. He was popular with the ladies. And he was a genius. Because of a penchant for partying with his fraternity brothers, his grades weren’t exactly those of a hardworking genius, but they were good enough to keep his scholarship.
His parents had high expectations for him, the oldest son of the family. They groomed him for his golden boy status, endowed upon him a sense of entitlement. You are our eldest son. You deserve the best of everything.
And the best of everything, he had. He was accustomed to nothing less.
Today he was meeting his girlfriend after class. Joseph was looking forward to a night of wining and dining her, and then some good old debauchery with his brothers later on.
He saw her waiting in her usual spot for him, reading a book. A wide smile spread over Joseph’s face as he studied her cute little figure, perfect hair, ankles primly crossed. What a pretty thing she was, he thought to himself, opening his mouth to call out to her.
But his quick stride slowed to a hesitant walk when he saw her look up. Her eyes were puffy, red. Tears were streaming down her cheeks. And as he sat down beside her, she whispered the two words that caused the course of Joseph’s life to take a sharp left turn into a frightening unknown.
I don’t know the exact details of how my dad found out his girlfriend was pregnant. But everything else I wrote is the real deal.