Mother and father divorced when I was four. Mother, stepfather and me left Hungary in 1956 following the Hungarian revolution against Soviet oppression and with the generosity of Canada, we immigrated to and settled in Toronto. Skip ahead, skip ahead… one marriage, three daughters, three granddaughters later and its November 2015. One day I get an unusual text message on facebook. The message was a probing one, inquiring if I was so and so with a name of such and such. The upshot of the inquisition was that my birth father was looking for me.I couldn’t believe it! The last time I saw or spoke to him was on my 8th birthday, some 59 and half years ago. I provided my phone number to the enquirer and he passed it on to my father who called me up and a relationship lost was rekindled.
After he and mother divorced when I was 4 and I saw him sparingly till the last time on my 8th birthday. Now he is 93. Our initial communication was not only awkward but an ongoing challenge. He spoke some English as he spent some 20 plus years in England. His favorite expression when things don’t go his way is “..bloody hell” [with a Hungarian accent]. Can’t get more English than that. I spoke Canadian and “pig” Hungarian since I had not spoken it to any extent in some 30 years. My vocabulary is at grade 1 level and totally lacking the western culture driven Hungarian/English words newly created by technology and advertising. Words like “burgony” for hamburger or “super” preceeding everything. Apple is apple when speaking of computers.
After the first telephone conversation and at my suggestion we spent some 6 months “skyping” weekly. He agreed to skyping immediately which I later found out he had no clew what it was. Little did I know that he knows nothing of computers or the internet. I later found out that he went out bought a tablet and got neighbors to have it hooked up, set up for skype so all he has to do is turn it on and initiate skype. This communication hurdle was further hampered by his significant hearing impairment. This then was and is aggravated by his unintentional and inappropriate fingering of the touch screen, interrupting the transmission. Some day we spend up to half an hour just establishing audible and visual two way reception. Other times, its just his curiosity and marveling at the novelty of the touch screen.
Historically, I tried many times to locate him on the internet but as he is not computer or internet friendly I didn’t have much success. He tried to find me but he didn’t know that when I got my Canadian citizenship I was also adopted by my stepfather resulting in a name change. He was looking for me under my birth surname.
He returned to Hungary as a widower about six years ago, but more details later. After of about six months of Skyping weekly, only one thing was left to do. We needed to meet face to face. The mental gymnastics ensued. Do we go there, or does he come here; When will this happen; for how long; and then what. Weighing the pros and cons, ultimately it was decided that Linda and me would visit him. Linda has never been to Hungary. I was eight when I left.
What was amazingly evident in our weekly skype cessions is that, he is vibrantly alert, self sufficient man, who lives by himself about 2 hours (should be 2 1/2 hours) drive east of Budapest, the country capital, in the famous wine country of Egri Bikaver, or Bull’s Blood wine. He has a two bedroom ground floor condo apartment in Eger and a bachelor flat in Pest, the capital where he goes frequently to visit friends and the opera. On the frightening side, he still drives! Remember, he is 93; hard of hearing; loves speed as do all drivers in Hungary; but more on that later. In retrospect we only encountered three life threatening driving experiences, and one road rage incident. “Bloody Hell”! When one internalizes that the worst that could happen is death, the rest seems more palatable.
So in the middle of June 2016, we embarked on an adventure that on its periphery was going to be memorable, to say the least; but at its core had the makings of a profound personal life altering experience that is extremely difficult to convey even to this day.
Stay tuned. Some of it is funny; others, not so much!~