The End of the Circle, Postscript


As I write, now, here in Greece, we have let some substantial time laps between the actual experience and the publication of our blogs. My plan this rainy morning on Crete was to wrap up our Romanian six week adventure with one final blog about a “New Circle Begins” referring to the liniage of my father’s mother’s side of the family, a contrast between two branches of that liniage: one younger educated European-mobile family and another seemingly stuck in a poor, agrarian village.  Then, the plan was to dive into some simple, brief posts about Bulgaria and Greece. But on this morning, we received some bad news from Romania.

Last Friday, my cousin, Gheorghe was taken to the hospital in the county center, Oradea, with “intestinal issues.” Doctors performed a surgery and the results were not good. He was sent back to the smaller local hospital in Marghita for what I understood from messages from his family to be palliative care, meaning that he had little time to live and that the only thing that could be done was to alleviate pain. This morning, on Janaury 7, we received a report that he died last night.

We had felt a sense of closure, seeing Gheorghe and Leonica, and Mariora and Gavrila for the first time in decades. Now, the blog that I was going to write seems to fall behind an eclipse of emotion and distorted significance. We join our family from afar in their grief. We are also consoled in a very self-serving way in the fact that we were extremely lucky to have visited them when we did. So, I will let this be brief. I do not lionize Gheorghe. He was a common man who was  vibrant,  animated, and  passionate. He struggled through difficult times, and was my closest relative in Romania. Here is a door into my past that is now closed.

On our last day, Gheorghe stopped by on his scooter, just as we were ready to leave. When we guessed that in three years we would be back, he told us that he did not expect to be around. He’s a tough ol’ guy, so I was betting against that.
Leonica and Gheorghe in 1974. They hosted us for two weeks. We saw the life of people in rural Romania through their eyes during the most difficult of times there.
Gheorghe’s granddaughter Ioana and her husband Ionuţ look at photos we brought and they explain to Gheorghe.
Gheorghe shows my father family documents in 1974.
Confronted with a fading past, a confusing present, and a doubtful future, Gheorghe did not seem hopeful.
In 1974, Gheorghe took my father into an open field to avoid the perceived “Securitate” forces all around during the Ceauşescu dictatorship. “The light bulbs have ears,” he told us. He struggled with other Romanians through harsh austerity and limited freedom.