More Than the Color Grey

zara--wool-coat-product-1-17282416-1-576620617-normalMy mom got me an orange coat that fall.

I was 12 or 13 and the city still had the old kind of stores with the wooden floor smelling of petroleum. We didn’t go often at a clothing store, because buying a thick coat was a great investment for a family of workers in that part of the world. Mom always used to get me one that was one or two sizes bigger, to ensure it would be good for the next couple of years. As a child, I didn’t care. Wearing the coat with folded sleeves was all right. Nobody made a fuss of it.  But now I was already tall and mama was confident enough to buy me one my size. “She would not keep growing like she used to,” mom told dad.

When I entered the store, I could see all the coats on hangers and suspended up high on a string in the back of the counter. The orange one caught my eye. “I want that one.” Mom took a deep breath. “Are you sure they would let you wear it to school? It looks too modern. ”

“They” were the communist leaders in my school.

The same question weighed on my soul for a moment, but I dismissed it. “I’m sure they will,” I assured mom. “Actually, they might not even see it, since I don’t wear it in the classroom, but on the street.”

The clerk managed to get the coat and handed it to me. “It’s a daring color,” he admitted.

I tried it and a warm feeling comforted my heart.

Mama paid for it and let me wear it on our way home. “Here she comes the princess,” I though while catching a glorious glimpse of myself in every single shop-window we were passing by.

I was happy. Life was more than the color grey.

(And no, “they” didn’t catch me, and I wore it for the next three years.)





A Miracle in Transylvania


I DIDN’T PLAN TO write about this, but I woke up in the middle of the night with this strong thought and I’m pretty sure somebody out there needs to read it.

When my grandma Buna from my mother’s side got married, she was young. Both her parents had died from some disease and Buna was left with a lot of livestock at their farm. Her big sister was already married in another village. So, the relatives had Buna marry my grandpa Bunu, a young soldier who came alive from the war.

A few years later, they had their first daughter and when she was about 4-5 years old Buna got pregnant again. Many weeks into the pregnancy and the baby died in Buna’s womb. They didn’t know that. The mom started to feel sick and then she developed high fever.
Back in 1920’s people there in Transylvania didn’t have a doctor or certified midwives. When giving birth every woman was helped on the spot by who was there, most of them grandmas, aunts and/or lady neighbors.

Bunu had to go to work in the field and couldn’t stay at home to help his wife. He took his wife in the garden under the apple tree in the shade on an improvised daybed and left her there with their little girl. One neighbor was to check on her from time to time.
The days went like this and Buna didn’t die. But she didn’t get better. She was there between life and death asking her daughter for water. The baby inside her was in advanced stage of putrefaction, but the septicemia didn’t kill the mother. That was a miracle. The mother was suffering from the deadly infection, but she stayed alive with no antibiotics.

All of a sudden one day, the stillborn came out. My aunt , the little girl then, was there. She said the baby was black and hard like a piece of charcoal.
From that day on, Buna started to feel better and she lived a long life.


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Papa Said “No”

I was walking with my 20 month old granddaughter yesterday. They live in a beautiful neighborhood with beach cottages and houses hidden behind trees and flower bushes.
Our little one kept running all the way down the street. Tired already, I was trying to remember when toddlers stop running and choose to just walk? Well, I didn’t remember that and continued following her in a fast pace.
I could tell she had learned keeping the sidewalk since she wasn’t interested in running to the road. But she liked getting on the small paths to the houses’ front doors.
Aware of that, I kept holding her hand when we passed by a new house. She didn’t like it and tried to have us go to the front door, until I said:
“Papa said ‘No.’ “
She looked at me, frowned and stopped.
We walked further and when she run towards a new front yard again, I used the same words:
“Papa said ‘No.’ ”
She stopped visible unpleased.
We continued playing that game and it worked.
My poor mama ( I said “poor” because I was stubborn and didn’t want to listen, ) she tried that magic with me as well.
“Just wait until your father comes home.”
Sometimes that worked, as well.

One Dear Family Story

images (11)I don’t know why, but I was thinking of one of my grandfathers lately, the one from my mother’s side. I remember being a few years old and holding my grandma’s hand while going from visiting my great-aunt to my grandparents’ house who lived in the same village. We met grandpa who was in a carriage full of cantaloupes, taking the harvest from the field directly to the market in a small town. Grandpa Bunu stopped the cart, looked for a beautiful piece of fruit and handed it to grandma Buna to carry it for me.

He knew how to make a violin from a dry corn stalk and play it for me. We were best friends.

Some time went by. My mother was pregnant with my sister when she and my father took me on a train and stopped at my grandparents’ home that late summer. My grandfather had passed away.
I didn’t know what that meant. It was a nice unexpected excursion for me, but I realized that something was different than usual when I saw my aunts and a few neighbors all wearing black and talking in a low voice.

By the time we got in the yard, nobody paid attention to me. Mom was crying. She hugged her mother and sisters and went in the house. The first room was the living room with a cooking area, but they didn’t stop there. Buna opened the second room, the one for guests, where I wasn’t allowed to play. When they got in that room, they were not aware that I was following them.

And there was my grandfather, lying on a rug on the floor. I didn’t scream. My family members were crying and wailing and I stood there watching. I was seven years old, living in a communist country, where people couldn’t buy a coffin when they needed it. They had to go and order it and the body was kept on the floor until the coffin arrived.
The whole scene was pretty scary, but not for me. I walked outside and went in the backyard where my oldest cousin was carving a piece of wood. He was making a cross for the grave.

It was sunny and pretty hot, but I remember that quince tree and my cousin working under its shade. I joined him for a while, but when some vanilla fragrance had spread in the air, I rushed in the summer kitchen where one of my aunts was making donuts.

Grandma Buna was sitting on the edge of the daybed and wiping her tears. The sound of her voice was soft and I went and sat next to her while she was finishing a story.
“I asked him to pray to God and receive Jesus and he always said that he would not die until he would get right with God.” She stopped and sighed. My mom and dad were listening.
“And?” my mother whispered.
Grandma blew her nose.
“I don’t know. He got bad, then worse and when the doctor left yesterday, I knew there was no hope.” She tidied the margin of the bedspread with her tired hand. “He turned on a side to face the wall and I bent over to see him. He couldn’t talk anymore. I saw a tear coming down on his face, and then he was gone.”

My heart ached and I stayed there in the dim light and sobbed.

When Divorce Shakes the House

download (2)Why it’s so hard?

This shout is bubbling up in the chest of many who suffer in their marriage. I wouldn’t touch this subject if I wouldn’t have been there. I wouldn’t bring it up just like that, but I have friends who suffer and don’t know where to turn to.

He says, ” she wants the divorce.”

She says, “he wants the divorce.”

He says ,”she has somebody else.”

She says, “he has somebody else.”

Some are in an abusing relationship.

The alienation between the two doesn’t fall down like a bomb, at least not most of the time. The separation starts well before somebody can see it. But the two can feel it. They know something is not right. And when something is not right today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, it has to be addressed.

Where can she go when he already closed all their bank accounts? What are the kids going to eat during the long time when the law would settle the financial issues? There are questions that need answers. There is heavy desperation. There are the nasty feelings of abandonment.

I’m not a marriage counselor, but women in difficulty come to talk to me.

We sit together and evaluate the broken pieces. Sometimes we just sob. And pray. Then we start to see what’s the next step. There are so many scenarios.

He left.

She left.

He is an alcoholic and destroying their marriage through violence and abuse.

She got sick. He packed his bags and moved in with his mistress.

His business prospered. He went to live the life of his dream.

Money, affairs, pride, abuse…They split the union.

Counseling can help restore a relationship if both want the restoration. I know people who made it. I know others who didn’t. I and my ex-husband were in counseling, but it didn’t work.

I want to bring up a few things that can help your relationship.

1. Depart from the bad influence. I knew a family who had to move to be far from one of the mother’s interference. Others had to put an end to a particular family friendship.

2. Kisses help. Kiss for no reason. He doesn’t need to deserve it. She doesn’t need to deserve it. I remember a man I admire, and he used to teach us this principle almost every single time.

3. Don’t wait for things to go from bad to worse until you ask for assistance. Revealing your pain can be hard, but better be hard now than latter. It’s easier to resuscitate somebody who fainted than somebody in clinical death.

4. If you believe in prayer, pray. Ask many to pray for you and with you.

No matter the outcome, don’t abandon hope.

Don’t want to die.

There is precious life ahead of you.

You Handle the Switch, Man

images (6)I was teaching a workshop years ago after my divorce and I showed a picture to the public.

It was a professional picture of myself that was taken in a photo shop while I was young and still married. I wore my best dress, I was supposed to look the best I could.

After many years, when I found that photo and saw my eyes, I was shocked.


We didn’t have the technology to show that picture large, on a screen, so the audience passed it around. The room got quiet. It took a while until the people could talk and somebody asked me out loud:

“What did he do to you?”


That switches off the light and brings trembling. Sadly, this didn’t happen only in the eighteen century.


They burden and crook the soul.


They take away any hope and open the door to suicide.

Now, when I see women with that kind of look, my heart aches. We are able to carry heavy stuff and handle it well when the light inside us is on. But darkness kills.

Despair, fear, abuse, they shrink life.

It took many years for me to recover and have the light shining inside me again.

Handling the switch is a great responsibility.