Post 58: On The Road To Romania
Conversing with Mama G
“Beeal, I show you my town, I grow up here.”
As we headed across the road and down a street I asked, “Dr. G is there someplace to get something to eat? I’m starved.”
“Oh Beeal, I sorry, my mother not too prepared, and she not cook much anymore. Here, we go in here and I get you something.” We walked into a home whose living room was a tiny, crude store with a few cans of food and dried goods, like flour.
“This where I get toilet paper last night,” Dr. G said. I noticed one roll was left on a shelf.
A warm, chunky, friendly woman greeted Dr. G like an old friend as he pulled two small bottles of Coke out of a cooler and grabbed a candy bar for each of us.
“Here, we eat this now,” he said as he paid the woman and popped the lids off. “We have dinner at neighbor’s tonight, I give them money to buy food to fix my favorites.”
Caffeine and sugar on top of some grapes became my first breakfast in a Romanian village and, as I recall, more grapes made up my lunch.
We wandered around the village. Dr. G pointed out his old elementary school as we walked toward the church and graveyard. The church was dim, austere and according to the rector, or priest, only a few old women and men attended services regularly. I waited quietly near the weedy gate as Dr. G stood by his father’s grave. I found it hard to fathom not being able to visit my father or attend his funeral because I was an enemy of the state. To be banned from returning to my home of origin without being arrested and imprisoned seemed so alien.
I also re-discovered how quickly news travels in small villages. When we returned from our walk, people started to drop by the house to greet Dr. G. They were excited to see him, the small town boy who had not only done well, but moved to America and became successful! As the afternoon wore on, his mother became agitated and started to yell at him. It became apparent some of his ‘best friends’ coming to visit hardly knew him and were actually coming for the items in his suitcases he so generously gave away.
“Beeal, my mom, she mad at me. She say these people no work, they don’t deserve anything from me. She is yelling ‘let them work like we did’ and she not like me giving them things. But what can I do? These people have nothing and I have so much. This iss why I bring so much.”
Later, he started delivering his goods to people’s homes. I suspected it was to get the commotion away from his mother and to stop her from yelling at him. After all, he was still her son and she was a tough mother.
While he was gone, she and I stood around the back yard eating grapes. We started talking, her in Romanian, me in English. I told her a little bit about myself, growing up in a small town, my big family, my working with foster children. She nodded as if she understood every word.
She gestured and waved her arms around as she told me about being upset with Dr. G. He was too generous; he would give away everything if he could. He should listen to her so she could tell him who deserves stuff and who doesn’t. Some of these people are drunks, they won’t work and they won’t care for their children. I nodded in empathy. Our different languages didn’t seem to matter at this point. It seemed crazy, but somehow we understood each other. We hugged and were best buddies when Dr. G returned from his errands of mercy. I think part of her concern was about Dr. G helping people financially too. I didn’t see him give any money away, but it would not have surprised me if he did.
Next week: The Neighbors