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Excerpt: 'Failed Illusions'

Cover of 'Failed Illusions'

Two weeks after Moscow crushed the revolution, I left Hungary, going first to Austria and then in a few weeks to the United States. I became one of some 182,000 refugees from Soviet-dominated Hungary. My parents, though I was their only child, did not discourage me from leaving. They stayed up all night before I left, watching me as I wrote a few notes of farewell to relatives and friends and put a few belongings together for my escape from uncertainty to uncertainty. Emerging from the kitchen, my mother came around to stuff her freshly baked sweets -- the best in the world -- into my small backpack. "Look up Uncle Sanyi in New York," she said. At dawn, when it was time to say goodbye, my father tried to hold back his tears but he could not. "Write often," he said, his voice quavering with emotion. We embraced. We kissed. As I left, they stood on the small balcony of our Barcsay Street apartment and waved. I walked backwards as long as I could see them, hoping they could also see me for another few seconds. (As I recall this scene some fifty years later, holding back my tears as my father once tried to do, I still see them waving on the balcony, and I always will.)

I did not fully appreciate until much later -- when I had my own children in America -- how unselfish my parents were to let go of me.

(c) 2006 by Charles Gati.

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Charles Gati