Post 56: On The Road To Romania – The Reason Dr. G Swam The Danube River

Post 56: On The Road To Romania

The Reason Dr. G Swam The Danube River

We drove on in silence as I mulled this over, the ramifications slowly percolating through my mind. A cruel dictator. His married daughter having an affair. Even she had no access to reliable birth control. Prior to the edict, I learned, it was almost impossible for women and doctors to maintain a regular supply of birth control pills, condoms and IUD’s. Abortion was the only method consistently available. Since 1967, it was no longer a choice and the state went to extreme methods to monitor women’s cycles.

I figured Dr. G was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. “So, what did you do? What could you do?”

“Beeal, I was so tired of the system. Always having to watch my back, seeing all these women forced to have babies they didn’t want. And now this. If she did get pregnant and I give her an abortion, I could be arrested and sent to prison. I just was sick of the system. So I talk with my wife who agree with me, even though we half a two-year-old child, and I had older girl from first marriage. I go visit my parents. I no say what I’m going to do, but they know anyway, and we not say good bye, but we know it was.”

Another long pause, consternation on his face as he remembered. “Then I pack my credentials and important papers in big envelope and seal it up in plastic. I take inner tube and rope and one night, very dark one, I swim Danube River.”

“My God! You swam the Danube River, at night! It’s good there were no guards!”

“No, there was guards. It was very dark and cloudy and they not see me, but thought they see movement in the water, so they fire guns in the river toward me. I just dive deep for as long as I can and keep doing it. I was tied with long rope to the inner tube and had my papers taped to my body. I got to Yugoslavia and made contact with the underground, they helped me get to safe place. I then half to decide if I go to America, Australia or some other country who would take me. I choose America.”

Dusk descended as we drove on in silence. Him deep in thought, me stunned. Yes, there was more to this man than a jovial, generous doctor who knew how to get through border crossings in new cars without paying taxes. He grew up in and excelled in a system of intrigue, subterfuge and violence. And he escaped communism by swimming the Danube River, leaving a wife and two daughters behind! Finally, my questions got the best of me. “So, what happened with your wife and little daughter, Dr. G? How did they get out of the country?”

“Well, Beeal. Two years later, she was able to get out legally and joined me in Chicago where I was doing another residency to get fully certified for the States. Later, my oldest daughter came to; she iss now in medical school. But for ten years I could not go home or I would be arrested. My father died and I couldn’t go back for funeral. It was very hard not saying good bye to him. Then after Ceausescu was executed and new government formed, I was able to go back. I try to go back every year to see my mother, she in her eighties now.”

Next week – Mama G