February 25, 2024

A father’s presence endures lengthy after he is gone

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Expensive Pa,

You in all probability know that I’ve written to Ma, so I assumed I’d write to you, too. As effectively, it’s the begin of one other 12 months, which marks the fortieth anniversary of your passing.

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Your final “residence” — the Queen Elizabeth hospital right here in Montreal — isn’t any extra. It’s now a well being complicated. So many issues have modified because you left. I’m certain you prefer to among the modifications, corresponding to the brand new tech age, the computer systems and the smartphones, which didn’t exist in your day.

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However your day in Hungary had different occasions and also you totally participated in them. You had been there when it counted. In 1944, you walked the darkened streets of Budapest — we had been experiencing Allied bombings — visiting international embassies to safe “safety letters” to assist save Jewish individuals. After the warfare, when the tide turned, you had been there for middle-class households, deemed to be “enemies of the state” by the Communist regime and displaced from their metropolis residence to a village within the nation.

Individuals may rely upon you. That’s why — on one among my visits to Hungary — a member of the family declared “she is her father’s daughter,” and she or he couldn’t have given me larger reward.

While you and Ma determined to hitch me in Canada, it was an enormous change for you in center age. In Budapest, you co-owned a fur salon that employed many staff. Between the 2 wars, girls flocked there to order their made-to-measure mink and ocelot coats, mink stoles and silver fox wraps. Whilst you discovered the fur commerce, you had been extra the administrator who handled clients. Your pleasant, honest method and beauty charmed all the women.

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Not like Ma, who adjusted simply, you had been homesick after your arrival in Canada. You made our residence right into a “little Hungary,” cramming it with Hungarian crafts, paintings, carpets and books to ease the ache. Then, beginning within the Nineteen Sixties, it was doable so that you can go to Hungary. Every year, you spent two summer time months in Budapest. Wearing your inexperienced checked swimsuit, strolling the streets of your hometown, talking your native language, greeting previous buddies, you had been as soon as once more a “someone.” Your yearly journey made the remainder of the 12 months bearable.

In your later years, you used a strolling stick, which I nonetheless have. In reality, just a few years after your passing, I wrote an article about your “fixed companion, the strolling stick” for the Montreal Gazette. Properly, Pa, or Apuka, as I referred to as you in Hungarian, I exploit a cane now myself.

Sure, issues have modified for me, too, over time. Nonetheless, I nonetheless dwell within the house you knew and — guess what? — I nonetheless drive a automobile. When, at age 40, I discovered to drive, you had been in opposition to it. You by no means drove or owned a automobile. Nonetheless, you quickly loved our automobile, being pushed to appointments. In reality, sitting beside me within the passenger seat, you gave me so many driving directions, individuals thought you had been an skilled driver!

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One other factor I nonetheless do, Pa, is write. You was so pleased with me, bragging “my daughter, the copy chief” (which I used to be in Zellers promoting division), and now you would change it to “my daughter, the columnist.”

How about that, Pa? So unhappy that you’re now not round to say that. But, your presence continues to be felt. Your portraits — one in your youth, the opposite in center age — grace the wall. I’m nonetheless surrounded by Hungarian souvenirs — work, china, books.

This 12 months is a double anniversary. Not solely is it the fortieth anniversary of your passing, it’s going to even be the celebration of my mid-90s birthday, the Good Lord prepared. You at all times understood me one of the best. One have a look at my face and also you knew what I used to be considering. Firstly of this new 12 months, want us all one of the best, Apuka.

I stay, as at all times, your devoted daughter,

Alice

— Alice Lukacs writes the Life within the 90s column

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