My name is George, after my grandfather George. It turns out he was of Serbian heritage and that Goyko was his original name — effectively (?) Serbian for George. Through a series of events too long and perhaps personal to relay here he was separated from his family and given up for adoption at an early age. One of the family members he was separated from was his older brother who went back to Europe while my grandfather stayed here in the U.S. to be adopted. George was very young and probably too little to remember much or any of it. But his older brother clearly did and, after many, many years, the two branches of this family have managed to reunite and start sharing stories.
I’m here now, in Serbia, visiting first cousins once removed and other such extended relations for which I can never remember the names. In Serbia there are more-specific names for these things that translate in funny ways to English. To a group a young men and women here who are effectively my peers I am “Uncle George” — something we both find amusing. It’s been fun to learn the language, meet family, experience the culture and see people who bear some resemblance to people I already know.
Today I met an older man, my great-uncle, I think, whose name was Goyko — also George. In case you lost track that’s three Georges to consider: my grandfather, my great-uncle (named after my grandfather, by his brother, in honor of the brother he thought he’d lost) and myself (named after the same man, by my father, after the man I never got to meet.). Today we me and it was a fairly emotional experience, particularly for him. He is quite old and not in the greatest of health but via translating Serbian to German and English we were able to convey for a moment that he and I were named after the same man. He cried and hugged me. It was quite sweet.
We took a photo of the two of us standing in his yard. Remember how I said we were trying to learn the language? Well, Serbian is pretty hard. Especially if you’re really just trying to casually “pick-up” he language as you go instead of learning it proper. So often we speak in broken bits of everything, along with lots of gestures. One of the funnier bits is when my aunt and I start speaking Spanish — a language that really does no one any good here. As we stood there in the yard waiting to take our picture someone said “Two Goykos! Two Georges!”
Somehow this turned into “Dos Goykos!” which we decided was an excellent name for a band.