Hungarian Treasures
April 8, 2020

This was my grammar book when we lived in Hungary from August –  December, 1973. I went to school every day while we lived in Budapest for those months, but I was only in third grade so I don’t recall much. I remember being very thankful that my Art and Math teacher could speak some English. Otherwise, I was pretty lost in the language department.

I often wondered why my mom decided to study in Hungary for a semester and take us four kids along with her. My brothers and I were 5, 8, 12, and 16 years old. Can you imagine what those months must have been like for my mom?

Of course, she was fluent in Hungarian, so that part wasn’t a problem. She also had multiple contacts in Hungary and Transylvania, so that helped as well. But to go to school to learn all about the music theory of Kodály Zoltan for a semester in a country under communist rule with four kids in 1973…wow! She was determined. And, as my daughter and I were digging through boxes, I think we discovered a part of the reason why.

In one of the boxes, my daughter found a several page document in Hungarian that said “Save”. It was written on letterhead from our family doctor, Dr. Milan Halmos, in Youngstown, Ohio. It was his farewell speech to my dad at my dad’s funeral.

Of course, I am not fluent in Hungarian and neither is my daughter, but we were able to get the gist of this one sweet sentence, “Nem magyar földön születtél, de Isten a tanum rá, hogy csontod velejéig. Szíved utolsó dobbanásáig magyar voltál.” (Although you were not born on Hungarian soil, God as my witness, you were pure Hungarian with every fiber of your being, to the very last beat of your heart.)

And so, I set about to connect with the daughter of the author of these words because I figured she would love to see her dad’s thoughts, and we were loosely connected via Facebook. And, if I she had a moment, might she be willing to translate the letter for me? She did, and what a treasure for us to have!

Within the eulogy was as close of a clue as any as to why my mom dragged us all to Hungary just 3 years after my father died:

“Bár leghőbb vágyad az volt, hogy őseid szülőföldjét meglásd, a kiméletlen sors ezt nem engedte meg.” (Although your fondest desire was to visit your homeland, the harsh world would never allow that to happen.)

My mom made a way for the four of us kids to visit Hungary, even though my dad never had the opportunity. She took the opportunity to further her studies. I am sure she figured she should make it happen while she had us all, technically, under her charge. By that time, none of us had moved out of the house. And, as we all know, life can change pretty quickly. Time was ticking away and she made sure we had the opportunity to make a connection with our “homeland.”

What a blessing to have the original document in Hungarian! I have emailed it to my relatives in Hungary so they can read it. Yes, my father’s cousins were living in Hungary at the time we visited in 1973, but I am sure my mom wasn’t aware of that because she would have surely taken us to see them if she had known. Thankfully, those relatives started looking for the family line and found us in 2011. And, in 2012, we took our children to Hungary and they met their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th cousins. What a treat! You can read more about that HERE!

My parents, Elmer and Elizabeth Szabo.

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