The Golden Years

When coming home from Hungary in May 1989, we took a detour to Rome to visit Angela again. Rudi, Alessandro and Angela's only child and son was waiting for us at the airport and took Len and me to Angela's apartment. There were more sightseeing in Rome in the next few days, but at last we took the train with Angela to her hometown, Pratovecchio of Tuscany. Some of her family members were still living there and owned some of the meat and food stores of the little town. The three-story apartment building where we had stayed now belonged to Angela and her sister thru inheritance. We were woken up every morning at five o'clock by the sound of the church bells and the aroma of the freshly baked bread. Wooden boxes of flowers and hanging baskets were decorating all the windows of the two-three story houses of the narrow streets, but the piazza was round and wide where all the town people were gathering by noon for a friendly siesta for a few hours. Angela took us to the cemetery to visit her beloved husband, Alessandro's and his mother's, who was my first cousin, Dora Metz gravesides. I took several pictures there, but unfortunately, when we got back to Rome Len's camera was stolen from him with the unfinished film inside; this left us with only one picture from the cemetery from the previously completed film.

Len with Angela and Rudi in Angela's kitchen

Len with Angela and Rudi in Angela's kitchen

Len and me in Rome, May 1989

Len and me in Rome, May 1989

Angela and me in Rome, May 1989

Angela and me in Rome, May 1989

My cousin, Dora Metz's graveside in the Pratovecchio cemetery.

My cousin, Dora Metz's graveside in the Pratovecchio cemetery.

The Wikipedia link for Pratovecchio.

We barely got home and got over our jet lag when Judy with Maureen and Kelly came to visit us in Stayton on the Memorial Day weekend for a week stay. The two little girls, Maureen 5 and Kelly 2 years old were adorable and both were enjoying our day trips to the Coast, Silver Falls Park, Enchanted Forest Amusement Park, but the highlight was visiting the Zoo in Portland. We gave over our two bedrooms for them and Len and I were spending the nights in our small travel trailer under the tall fir trees. It was a very useful solution to accommodate our visiting friends also that summer.

At the end of June Len and I flew to Reston, VA, because Janie and Louis decided to get married. The wedding ceremony was held at their lovely home among their family and close friends. George was the Best Man, and Janie's sister the Maid of Honor. A gourmet food reception followed at the house.

Louis with Judy and George on his wedding day

Louis with Judy and George on his wedding day

Janie with Mike and George on her Wedding Day, Reston, VA. June 24, 1989. Len and me with Maureen, Judy with Kelly, and Tessie with Johanna on her lap

Janie with Mike and George on her Wedding Day, Reston, VA. June 24, 1989. Len and me with Maureen, Judy with Kelly, and Tessie with Johanna on her lap.

Louis and Janie went to visit Janie's mother in California around Christmas time that year and they came up for a few days to see us again. They gave the best Christmas present for me: Janie was expecting a baby in the following May. Spring came fast and little Andrew was born on May 25, 1990. Mother and child were doing fine and in a few months Len and I went to Reston to join in their happiness. George and Tessie flew up with little Johanna to see us this Spring also, and they spent a very enjoyable week with us. For me, being a grandmother was the state of instant happiness that was nurtured by our trips to visit each family at least twice a year. Len and I just loved to travel and each trip rewarded us with heartwarming memories. In August 1993 Andrew's little sister, Katherine was born, and in December Tessie and George presented a little sister for Johanna, named Mallory.

When I married Len I gave up the little golfing I was doing earlier and learned to bowl. I had joined the Senior League with Len in Stayton and we met some lovely men and women there, most of them couples of our ages. I was very contented with my life, but Len was becoming increasingly restless. He wanted to sell our pretty new home and buy a riverfront property. I was alarmed by his intensive efforts to purchase a new home. He also developed a habit of driving away in his small pickup truck for long and purposeless rides on the Highways; and was visiting a local Real Estate Office quite often that I had found out from the several phone calls of one of the Agents. A few days later he came to the house with an offer from a buyer, and with a contract of the sale already signed by my husband. We would have to move out in a month contingent to us finding and buying a new home. I was in a shock and resisted signing the contract. But the Agent and my husband were constantly working on me until after two weeks I finally gave in. We moved into a house seven miles East of Stayton, then 6 months later into a cedar home located up in the Canyon overlooking the Santiam River. This house was a two-story building with two balconies and a huge deck to provide us with the most magnificent views down the river, and up to the surrounding mountains. The river was full with king salmon and the bald eagles came down to fish them out. It was an ideal life for us in the little town of Gates, population of 365, elevation 945 feet.

Then Len started to develop some health problems related to his diabetes. His doctor's office and the nearest hospital were 30 miles away, and also the supermarket and the bank we were customers of. As much as I hated to move again, the only solution was to sell this house and move into Salem, preferably into a Retirement Community. Sounds almost unbelievable, but during our first nine years of marriage we moved five different times."Never again" I said to myself completely worn out by the continuous packing and unpacking, while each time I was trying to set up a comfortable nice home for us.

These pictures were taken in Salem, May, 2003.

It took me quite a few years to develop my gardening habits, but now I’m spending endless hours working outside from early Spring to the end of November, when the last fallen leaf is gathered and taken away.

Our new home was smaller and the yard was rented, but I liked the location with the neighboring open fields and hills on the SE end of the city. And of course, it was so much more convenient to live close to everything. Len was doing his daily trip to the Mall for a mid-morning cup of coffee; and once a week we were bowling in the local Senior League.

Unfortunately I had to quit for a while, because in February of 1996 I slipped on the ice on our patio and broke both bones in my right wrist. It took me two years to get back the full use of my hand and arm; however, this did not hold us back from our visiting routine to the kids. Every hour spent with the grandchildren gave new meaning to my life. In 1998 Rezso and Edit had decided to move closer to their grandchildren and after they sold their condominium in Sopron, they relocated to Szentendre, about 18 kilometres North of Budapest. It was time for me to plan and prepare for a trip to visit them in their new home. This time we flew from Seattle to London to stay overnight and had a delightful dinner with my childhood friend, Laci.

With Laci at the Airport Hilton Hotel in London, May 1998

With Laci at the Airport Hilton Hotel in London, May 1998

Rezso picked us up at the Ferihegy Airport in Hungary and drove us to Szentendre where Edit was waiting for us in their second-story apartment. This time we were to stay with them for the ten days duration of our visit. There was time enough to take a very enjoyable ride up in the Pilis Mountains, meet with old friends, and go up to Budapest with the local commuter train to visit relatives.

With Rezso and Len, Szentendre, May 1998

With Rezso and Len, Szentendre, May 1998

The magnificant view of the Danube from the lookout point of Dobogoko, May 1998

The magnificant view of the Danube from the lookout point of Dobogoko, May 1998

Edit and Rezso with their grandchildren, Rudi and Adel, Budapest, May 1998

Edit and Rezso with their grandchildren, Rudi and Adel, Budapest, May 1998

Visiting Marta, "my Niece" with Edit and Rezso, Budapest, May 1998

Visiting Marta, "my Niece" with Edit and Rezso, Budapest, May 1998

Rezso took us to the cemetery in Piliscsaba

On the last day of our visit Rezso took us to the cemetery in Piliscsaba.

We had made arrangements with my dear childhood friend Gyuri from Klotildliget, whose home was located now close to the Ferihegy Airport, that Len and I will come and see them for two days before flying home. The last time we had seen each other I think was 1955. Rezso drove us to Chevharaszt, about 35 km Southeast of Szentendre, where he and wife Margit were waiting for us with open arms. It was a tearful reunion, and for two days we were trying to catch up with all those years, and were basking in the happy memories.

After we came home from our trip Len was having health problems again and needed more medical attention. I noticed also that there was a change in his normal behavior, he was getting more forgetful and was having difficulties doing simple tasks, like balancing a checkbook. But nothing kept him from driving his truck daily to the Mall, or going for longer drives on the Highways. Then I started to notice new little dents on the fenders and on the sides of his truck. I never have gained knowledge about any of his accidents, but twice he got speeding tickets from the Highway Patrol. Because he had a good driving record before these incidents, I started to get worried. A few months later in early December Len lost control of his truck and ended up rolling it over twice on a country road. I was called by Stayton Hospital where they had taken him by ambulance after they cut him out of the completely smashed-in front seat. He was very lucky to survive with a few broken ribs, two smashed fingers, and with some cuts and bruises; he was wearing his seatbelt while driving. But he had no memories of why he was driving on that road and actually what had happened. When he got out of the hospital after a week's stay his doctor ordered different types of tests to determine the cause of the accident. The negative results of these tests gave the grave indication that Len is suffering from Alzheimer's. With his doctor's approval I applied for the revoking of his driver's license. I also had to do some research on the disease to educate myself, because I made up my mind that we will live a normal life and I will be taking care of him at home as long as it is possible.

By the end of the Summer of 1999 Len was physically well again, and we decided to take a trip to Hungary in October. We flew Air France thru Paris to Budapest and spent eight very enjoyable days with Rezso and Edit in Szentendre. This time we stayed in a bed and breakfast place owned by a very nice and friendly Hungarian couple. Visited friends and family again and took a tour on the Castle Hill in Budapest.

Len with Edit and Rezso, Halaszbastya and the Matyas Church are in the background. Budapest, October 1999

Len with Edit and Rezso, Halaszbastya and the Matyas Church are in the background. Budapest, October 1999

Kis Edit, Gergo, me, Balint, Len and Edit in Ujpest, October 1999

Kis Edit, Gergo, me, Balint, Len and Edit in Ujpest, October 1999

Kis Rezso and wife, Eva, Szentendre, October 1999

Kis Rezso and wife, Eva, Szentendre, October 1999

My old-time teacher from grade school at Klotildliget, Father Ruzsik was residing at that time in a Retirement Home of the Lazarist Order in Paris; Len and I flew to Paris for a few days on the way home to visit him. This was something I had wanted to do for a very long time. In 1981 while I still lived in Camarillo, my friend from England had taken his family to Paris to see him, from where Laci had surprised me with a lovely postcard with Father Ruzsik's precious handwriting on it. In the following years we exchanged wonderful letters and made occasional telephone calls. He was a very warmhearted, dedicated priest, and we had not seen each other since I was a little girl, about 55 years ago. When the communists took over Hungary Father Ruzsik left the country and continued his very extraordinary life in a Columbian Mission where he was studying also, and became a Seminary teacher. In 1962 he got his PhD of Theology in Rome. In 1968 Father Ruzsik was appointed as a Head of the Parisian Hungarian Mission, where he had stayed until his retirement. I have wonderful memories of the joyous few hours that Len and I had had with him in his Spartan room at the Retirement Home in Paris. During the years to come he was to give me spiritual guidance and blessings thru our correspondence and phone calls, until he gave his noble soul back to his Master, at the age of 89.

Postcard from Paris

Father Ruzsik, 1913-2002 and Palais Royal, Paris

Father Ruzsik, 1913-2002 and Palais Royal, Paris.

In the next two years Len and I took several trips to visit our family in the US. I wanted him to enjoy the family while he still able to, although traveling with him was becoming more and more difficult. He still loved to travel and always had a good time with the kids and grandchildren. At home our lifestyle was changing and there were quite a few adjustments to make in order to cope with his disease. Not being able to drive was very hard on him, and many times he was looking for and demanded the car keys. He also had to give up his weekly bowling, however I took him along and he watched the game, or just enjoyed himself being among the people there. Our friends were very understanding and treated him as a part of our group. Sometimes Len took the local bus to the Mall, and after an hour or so I was waiting on the bus station to walk him home. I tried very hard to maintain his independence and dignity, but I bought him a bracelet to wear with his name and address on it. In April of 2001 we were ready to go to Hungary again to visit Edit and Rezso in Szentendre. Len was very exited about the trip, but I was worried secretly. His ever-changing moods were swinging from depression to a highly agitated state. Before starting on our trip I took him to his doctor and he put him on some medication.

Unfortunately this medication had an adverse effect on him a few days later when in Szentendre while waiting at the front of our bed and breakfast house for Edit; Len just walked away and got lost for a day and a half. It happened right after our breakfasts when I was getting ready for the outing, but he was very impatient and decided to wait outside for her. It was just like a nightmare come true for all of us. Edit and I walked several miles on the streets trying to find him, because our only driver with the car, Rezso was in a hospital for a few days. We got help from our landlord and son also, but I ended up going to the Police Station to make a report of Len's disappearance. They were very helpful alerting the ambulance and hospitals and the general public thru the TV and radio stations. Night came and still was no news of Len; I kept roving the streets all night in the dark. I also made a phone call to the American Consulate in Budapest. On the next morning with the help of a relative the Hungarian Catastrophic Rescue Team was engaged to search for Len with their dogs. Finally, about 3.30 PM we received a call from an Ambulance Unit who had picked up and taken my husband to a hospital. He was suffering from hypothermia and dehydration and got a nasty gush on the top of his head. In the hospital they checked him over, treated him, and put stitches in his wound. The relative with the car took me to the hospital and we brought Len back to the bed and breakfast place to recover his ordnance.

During the following days he was getting better and some of his memories came back to him. He told us that he had a sudden urge to go for a walk, and kept walking and walking all day until he got to a public park (about 6 miles south from Szentendre), where he tried to buy soft drinks from a vendor, but because he had not any Hungarian currency, they would not serve him. Without speaking any Hungarian, he could not communicate to ask for help. He was completely confused and spent the night in the park sitting on a bench. By morning he was very lightheaded and dizzy, then after more walking he passed out.

We had to stay few more extra days in Szentendre until Len was fit to travel home. Rezso also came home from the hospital and we were able to go on for few rides together.

Len with Edit and Rezso in the Duna-Ipoly Nemzeti Park, Bukkos Patak area, May 2001

Len with Edit and Rezso in the Duna-Ipoly Nemzeti Park, Bukkos Patak area, May 2001

From about that time I was spending 24 hours every day with him, because he could not be left home alone anymore. Wherever I had to go locally I had to take him along, except for the few times when Len had to go to respite care for a few hours. Our travel days were over and my family came up to see us whenever they could. In August of 2004 the kids organized a family reunion in Manhattan Beach, CA to celebrate Len's and my birthdays. Len took the trip well and was very happy among the family.

With Len at Silver Falls Park, Oregon, February 2003. Louis took the picture.

With Len at Silver Falls Park, Oregon, February 2003. Louis took the picture.

With George, Judy and Louis at Manhattan Beach, CA on my birthday, August 2004

With George, Judy and Louis at Manhattan Beach, CA on my birthday, August 2004

In 2004 Rezso and Edit sold their condominium in Szentendre and bought a small, but lovely little house on a forested lot in Klotildliget. In October, after finding a specialized care facility for Len to stay for 10 days, I flew to Budapest, and Rezso drove me to Klotildliget. It was almost like coming home.

The sunroom and the house.

During the following years Len was becoming more and more fragile. He needed my fulltime care and assistance, but he remained the same loving and gentle man I had married over 22 years ago. By the time the year of 2008 approached his condition had taken a turn for the worst. I lost him on February 20th, after two weeks of struggle and suffering. I know that I have to go on, and would like to quote a line from the great poetry of the Arabic poet Ibn al-Faridh: "Death Through Love is Life."

Wreath

  1. Home Page
  2. My Parents and our Family
  3. The Lean Years after World War II
  4. The Turning Point and Escape
  5. My new Family in a new Country
  6. Our New Life
  7. Visits and Achievements
  8. My Second Marriage
  9. Travels and Changes
  10. The Golden Years
  11. Reflections

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