Asbury Park, NJ 1957
In 1911, Nagy Mama was born in Revfalu (pronounced: Rave-fuh-loo) a very small village in Hungary and (as most children at that time) was primarily raised by her mother and maternal grandmother, who passed along the "twin gene" to my mother (my great-grandmother gave birth to 3 sets) and I also inherited a lot of traits from my maternal grandmother. Though, she was much, much braver than me.
Central Park, NY 1957
My mother (15) my aunt (5) and Nagy Mama.
Romantic, a bit stubborn and fiercely independent, even at a young age, Nagy Mama preferred riding horses and climbing trees with her four brothers, to having to clean and cook for them. I don't blame her. Nagy Mama escaped from Hungary in 1956 (she was the same age as I am, today) with two kids in tow, leaving an abusive husband for the promise of a better future for her children.
Bushkill Falls, PA 1963
My father, mother and Nagy Mama, shortly after my parents engagement.
Unfortunately, she couldn't run away from all of her troubles and soon heart ache followed (as it usually does) as the American consulate told her husband exactly where she and her daughters were staying. Eventually, Nagy Mama conceded and allowed her husband to move back in (it was the 50's) she tried to make the best of it and was happy that her oldest daughter was able to snag a husband who was, you know, not like hers.
Nagy Mama and Thing One share a warm and fuzzy moment.
Though, my twin brother and I didn't have the most idyllic childhood (Nagy Mama's husband made sure of that) we both saw less and less of the "the a-hole" and, after having to bear witness to yet another awful family ordeal (trust me, this one took the cake) my parents and I finally cut all ties with him, for good. Then, I met my husband, Garth (not his real name) and 2 months later we were engaged (I know, weird) and Nagy Mama cried, "You made a much better choice, than I did!
Circa 1996 (after Thing Two was born, I was never very good at keeping up with the baby books) Thing One and Thing Two enjoy another cuddly moment with Nagy Mama.
Nagy Mama loved her great-grandchildren and often times would hold them for hours, even though I insisted that her arms would ache and she'd regret it, later, I'm glad that she didn't.
Me, Nagy Mama and The Boy - Into the 21st Century, we go!
I was 4 months pregnant with The Boy, when Nagy Mama had her first heart attack and, after finding her a lawyer, helping her file for a divorce (yeah, she was in her mid-8o's) and then selling her house, she moved into my parents' house and (though, her health steadily became worse) she often times would insist that, for the first time in her life, she was happy.
June 2001 - I introduce Nagy Mama to Mini-me
Oh, I can just hear her now -- cursing me all the way from heaven, in Hungarian -- poor Mamama (as my children having loving come to remember her) she suffered a stroke, right before Mini-me was born, and hated having her picture taken.
Still, it's the only way Mini-me remembers her and I, you know, will always see her as the strong-willed farm girl who was born way before her time.
No, she wasn't the best mother in the world (it's okay, my mother knows) but, through her imperfections, I'm learning to forgive her, my mother and myself, a little more, every day.
The best Christmas present, ever.
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