We escaped from Hungary in late 1945 with the Communist army just a few miles from our door. A makeshift train had been quickly assembled by a band of patriots including my father and we and other families loaded whatever we owned into boxes and set off towards the border.
We didn't know if we would make it safely, as the Communist army was still at our heels. There was also little food and we often left the train to go into farmers' fields to gather whatever we could to survive. We came under attack from fighter planes and had to run and hide in the forest. As we lay in the woods my mother covered us with her body as we heard bullets whiz by and hit the branches above us. What I remember most was my mother always doing what had to be done, putting her fears and feelings aside as the survival of her family came first.
After spending several years in Europe, we realized there was no hope for freedom and no going back to our beloved ancestral homeland. My father had been in government and was an outspoken critic of both the Nazis and the Communists. We would have simply been executed as many were that stayed or went back. So we left everything behind, home, relatives, and belongings, everything that was dear to us because freedom was more precious than that and came to America as displaced persons. We applied for American citizenship and became citizens five years later.
Those first years in America were difficult. We had no work history here and had to start again in mid-life. It took its toll on my parents. My father died suddenly and left my mother to care for three teenage boys. She again put her fears and feelings aside and put the survival of her family first. She worked harder than ever and saved every penny she earned. Jobs were difficult to get and keep; she spoke broken English and had an accent that was not appreciated. She went on day by day until we were all out of high school and in college. My mother taught us to become independent because she saw she could not give us what other parents could and we would have to earn that for ourselves. Because of her love and dedication we survived. She passed away at 97 and left a legacy of love of family, of hard work, of character as well as an estate put together by a poor woman one penny at a time.
But she left me the greatest gift of all. I married a woman like that.