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Love, Hungarian American Style

My paternal grandparents,Toth Maria and Katkics Istvan

My maternal grandparents were married on June 9, 1935 in UjDombovar (pronounced oo-yuh-dome-bo-vah-r) Hungary. My grandfather Istvan was the oldest of 7 children and my grandmother Maria was born on a farmstead in a small Hungarian village bordering present day Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia.

Through my father's own childhood memories, I now know my grandfather became the patriarch of his family, following the sudden death of his father, and (albeit, very unwillingly) took on the responsibility of supporting his mother and his 6 siblings: 2 years into World War I, my grandfather was 16 years-old, at the time.

My grandmother was a quintessential "old country" girl, pulled out of school around the 3rd or 4th grade (just enough to learn simple math and proficient to write your name in longhand), she spoke with, what we here in the states would also consider, a very heavy Southern accent and my father will tell you that she loved to sing old folk songs, especially when she thought no one was listening.

What neither he or I can tell you is how my grandmother met my grandfather.

What drew them together? How did they fall in love? Did my grandfather seek her family's permission? Or, in my ridiculously romantic imagination, did they meet by chance? On a stormy afternoon, when her day in the fields was cut short and his motorbike broke down in the rain, as she shyly pointed him towards a shortcut and they shared the muddy path back to her village, perhaps?

As the family genealogist, I couldn't help but become very frustrated when interviewing family members and almost always received the same response: people just didn't talk about themselves, or even know anything about their own families, back then.

I never met my grandmother (she died a few months after my brother and I were born) and the memories I have of my grandfather are very different from that of his son's.

So, it's days like this, when images of hearts and flowers abound, I wish someone would hurry up and invent a time machine. Because one of the very first things I would do is go back, sit with my grandparents and listen to THEIR story.

And then I would try to explain why bloggers (like me) share such stories on the internet: I don't want their great-grandchildren to EVER forget where they came either.

On a muddy path, somewhere in between heartache and a folksong.

In the meantime, I'll just pretend that they are both smiling at me...JUST ME...and perhaps even thinking to themselves, "Boldog Valentin nap, kis Sziszikem".

Happy Valentines Day, everyone!

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