A Well During the War

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It was in 1939 when the countries in Europe were torn between Germany and Russia. Germany had occupied Poland on September 1st, 1939, starting the II World War and the Eastern Europe countries became easy prey for the two empires.

It just happened that my grandma was pregnant again with her sixth child. She was 36 years old and grandpa was in his late forties. Their oldest daughter was married and already had a baby, and grandma was ashamed to be with child when she was a grandmother. The news about her pregnancy overwhelmed her. She didn’t tell her husband and began acting strange. She didn’t talk, didn’t eat and did her chores around the house weeping in secret.
“What’s wrong with you?’ grandpa Toghere was asking her, but she wouldn’t say a word.

“Your mom is sick,” he confessed to his oldest daughter. “She doesn’t want to tell me. Go and see, maybe she would tell you what’s going on,” he asked his oldest daughter when he visited her on his way back from the field.

Next day, Floritza took her baby with her and went to see her mother. They lived in the same village in Transylvania. She pushed the wooden gate, and the little dog came wiggling to welcome her.
“Mom, are you here?” she asked in a loud voice.
She walked to the little summer kitchen and went behind the drape at the door.
“Mom?”
There was a pot with food simmering on the stove.The woman knew that her mother wouldn’t have the fire on and leave the house. She had to be there somewhere.

Grandma had just finished collecting the eggs in the stable. When she heard her daughter in the yard, she went against the wall in the shade. “I hope she can’t see me here,” she thought and ducked down.
Floritza crossed the courtyard next to the well and got in the house.
“Hello, Buna Ziua!”
Nobody answered.

She searched the second room and then walked outside on the porch.
“Mom, I know you are here and I’m not leaving without talking to you.” She took a seat on the stool and started breastfeeding her baby.

When she learned that her daughter was determined to see her, grandma showed up with the eggs in her apron.
“Did your father send you here?”
“Mom, what’s going on? We are worried about you.” The baby fell asleep and Floritza covered his face with her scarf.
The hostess waved her hand and walked inside the summer kitchen and her daughter followed her.
She placed the eggs on top of the others in a basket and pushed the basket under the daybed with her foot.
“How is your baby?”
“He is healthy, thank you for asking.”

Grandma left her body on the side of the bed and broke down in tears.
“I’m pregnant.”
Her daughter placed the baby on the bed and gently pulled her mother against her shoulder.
“You are going to be all right, mom. This is not a shame, it’s a joy.”
“Everybody would laugh at me. My grandson would be older then his aunt or uncle.”
“So, what?” the young woman replied. “You are married and father would be so happy to have a new baby.”
But the woman didn’t want to be comforted.
“I will go and drown in the well.You’ll see.”
“No, no, mother! You’ll have this baby and we will adopt him or her. You don’t even have to see the child after the birth.”

These words made grandma think and she decided to make peace with herself. She wanted that baby. But even though she informed her family that she would have the little one, they were still concerned and watched grandma to keep her from drowning.
My mom came into the world the following year.

France fell under the German occupation on June, 1940 and England retreated her forces from the continent. Romania found herself without two main supporters and in the way of the German and USSR’s steamrollers. The Russia empire took the NE of Romania, while the Hungary snatched the Northern Transylvania.

Mom was there and soon enough her family had to hide in the forest.

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The Goose Egg

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It was in the ’90s when I got a phone call from a well known teacher from another city. He was putting together a small team to follow an invitation from some schools and churches in the Republic of Moldova. We were to teach a seminar to the teachers there.

I said “yes, I’ll go”, and short after that, the four of us took off in a car.
It was a long ride from the West side of Romania to cross the border in the East to Chisinau, Moldova. The roads right after the Revolution in Romania were pretty challenging, but we made it safe. It was interesting how during the Communism in Moldova, the main roads didn’t go through the cities or villages. They were guarded by forests on both sides of the ways, to keep the eyes of the intruders away from the hard reality of the population there.

We met tens and tens of intellectuals, people with a sweet heart, humble, but full of knowledge. They listened to us and we listened to them, sometimes in tears.
The last night before leaving their country, we were sheltered in a school principal’s flat. We got there late and went directly to bed. Next morning we met his wife and children around the table for breakfast. It was a time experiencing dear friendship, sharing out lives and praying for each other.

In the end, right before leaving their home, the woman of the house handed us a gift. It was a goose egg and a pickle to take to our families in Romania. That was all what they had to bless us. I was crying inside. These beautiful people didn’t want to send us away empty handed.

When I reached home, my children and I sat at the table around a goose egg and a pickle.
Sometimes it’s not so much about the gift, but the heart behind it. We were blessed.