What really was the eye opener was the welcoming and friendly greeting we received from this family whom we had never met before, except by Skype or on telephone. They treated us immediately as not strangers but family members. We felt at home and appreciated. Supplemental to this was seeing with my own eyes the homestead where my grandparents lived and raised their families, one of them being my father. It was very touching to enter and see for myself what life was like for them: there was the old kitchen with a ceramic stove in the retained part of the old house, the stairs leading up to the grain storage room. This grain was used to make flour to bake their own bread. Outside of this old house there are remains of the hand pump which is used even today to pump water. And believe me, the taste of this water is extraordinary, delicious and refreshing! As we walk further into the yard where I think my father and his brothers and sisters played as children. There is the original old barn of hundred years old or more, in which today live a horse and rabbits. Connected to the barn there is a smoke house where my grandparents smoked meat and fish.
While at my family’s home Aljos opened up to me with photos of my family’s history, he shared with us many memories, happy and sad. During this time we did a lot of visiting, first with my other cousin Jan and his wife Jana, and their families. Next we went to Gbely to meet my cousin Terka in a nursing home. For her it was truly an emotional visit, we gave to her an icon of St. Spyridon which was at once hung up in her room. She showed us the nursing home, it was bright, clean and well organized. The residents are treated with respect and dignity. When we left we felt that she was very sad but happy. It showed in her eyes. We too were very happy to have met her and give her some joy.
While in Gbely we walked over to the Church and met a family from the US. The husband was of Slovak background and as myself he too was visiting for the first time his relatives, it was a big event in his life, as it was in mine. With my other cousin Jan and his wife Jana we came to se Basilica in Sastin. It was actually impressive, the artwork, the frescos, the paintings, the altars in gold. We ate in ”Holenka” restaurant which means “a boot” worn by Slovak peasants, such as my grandfather was. In Malacky we toured to Palfy grounds and Palace and saw the damage done by violent wind storm which uprooted trees there. We visited a historical Convent where we took many pictures. On leaving it we passed the old Synagogue and entered what is now children’s art school. Valentina spoke German to one lady and she gave us a history of a building. At the end she presented us a hand made ceramic fish designed by one of her students.
All in all, we had a wonderful time together with all my relatives sharing stories and talking, learning about the people.
Watch our photo presentation about these days.