International Man of Mystery?
For half of my life I did not know my paternal grandfather. He had been a mystery, having abandoned my grandmother, my father, and my aunt when my father was only two years old. The only thing I knew about him, besides leaving his family to care for themselves, was that during the war he had been in the camps.
My father found him in the 1990s, and I eventually met him in 1998 and began to hear his stories. So many of them seemed unbelievable, unimaginable. He presented himself as a Polish James Bond, fighting the Nazis in the forests of Poland, and then taking the fight with him to Auschwitz, and then to Dora. Beyond these stories I still wondered how these experiences affected his life, and ultimately why he left his family - but he was too guarded to show us.
In 2010 I spent a week with him. It was the longest he had spent with any family member for over 30 years. After listening to him tell his complex stories for hour upon hour, he slowly began to lower his guard. I saw moments of deep truth. Truth that revealed not a war hero, or Polish Casanova, but rather a broken man still struggling with his past - and in need of healing.
Two years later, on my 37th birthday, my grandfather passed away.
Stories from the Third Floor is a re-presentation of the week I spent with my grandfather and events that have followed. It is a portrait of, and an attempt to understand, a man.