Go read jenniever's post here. It's a wonderful recap of things, and might give those of you from far away a better perspective on things.
The Magyars have always made me feel welcome. Throughout high school, college, and my adult life I spent many an evening there. After problems with my family, I'd spend holidays with them, and they opened their doors to me graciously. Pete's often said that I was like another brother to him, and his parents treated me with just as much caring and respect. Many nights I'd just enjoy being around them. Not just for the friendly banter, the intelligent conversation, or the hilarious gags - I would bask in the loving closeness of the family. They, despite their joking and teasing, stuck by each other no matter what.
Pete's father was an incredible man. A teacher and adventurer, a master storyteller, and a speaker of over two dozen languages. I want to say he spoke around twenty-six languages, not counting dialects and the like. He'd walk into Roy Rogers speaking to Pete in German, say something to me in French, order from the hot Ykatrina in Russian, joke with the manager in Arabic, and fluently bounce from one to the other with that mischievous impish grin on his face. He'd help his kids pick up languages, from playing Russian Scrabble to working on verbs at the dinner table. While I'm sure his kids had heard them hundreds of times, I could sit and listen to him tell stories for hours. Tonight Matt and I shared tales of visiting the family and just talking with him for extended periods of time. Tales of smuggling things across borders for friends or family, dealing with corrupt officials looking for a bribe, and the interesting places and people encountered around the world. Tonight Pete explained that his dad had around two million frequent flyer miles saved up. While some of those were from other people flying as him before they cracked down on such things, he saw a huge amount of the world many times over. Even during his final years, he still went on jaunts with his beloved family members. Some of my fondest members from living in Hoboken are from the times he came to pick Pete up, sipping shots of Beckerovka or Triple Sec or some other liquor, telling stories to us both.
As many of you know, a few years ago he was diagnosed with cancer. It's been an ongoing battle since then, with its many ups and downs. Some new treatment method seemed to be working well, then there would be a complication, then a new plan of action, and so on. A couple of weeks ago, the doctors gave him a few months to live, and the last medication prescribed to him only served to ease his pain. Months before, he gave away his only daughter, and had the traditional father-daughter dance with her. Those who knew the whole story, including yours truly, couldn't keep a dry eye during the dance and his speech afterward. While visiting a dying family member in Florida, he took ill. Affected by a typical infection that people under chemotherapy face, it would either be treated or take him. As things took a turn for the worse, the family up in Jersey flew down to Florida, everyone making it in time to spend his last night with him. He died surrounded by his loving family, without pain, sharing stories and being with them. It was the best possible way for things to happen, like something out of a movie as a couple of his kids have told me.
He was a great brilliant man, and is missed by many. Tonight there was an incredible turnout for the later viewing, requiring a cop to direct the traffic. People I hadn't seen in years showed up to pay their respects, all having been deeply touched by their time with him.
I know I'll see many of you at the funeral in the morning. Thanks to those who made it to the viewings today.