Friday, 25 June 2010

Jaden Smith - His Father's Son and How.

Definitely his father's son. . . how does an 11-year-old have such charm and timing? Daddy's gift, I'm guessing.

Monday, 21 June 2010

101 Years Young. . . Leslie Menyasz, My Father-In-Law. . .

Can I get an amen?


Yes, we celebrated Dr. Leslie Menyasz's 101st birthday on Sunday, June 13th, 2010. In honour of his staying power, I am re-posting his story, that I was lucky enough to write and get  published just more than a year ago in our local paper.


“June 13th, 1909. That day was just a little more than 100 years ago. That was also the day my husband’s father was born in Hungary.

On Saturday June 13th, 2009 we celebrated Dr. Laszlo Joseph Menyasz’s 100th birthday. Even writing it looks surreal. One hundred years is a long time to view life and the world around you. My father-in-law Leslie still looks at his world through smiling eyes. I wish I could climb in his head and see things as he sees them, as only a man who has lived for one century can see this world.

1909. The Austria-Hungary-Serbia Pig War had just ended, although it would ultimately be one of the causes of World War I. Instant coffee was invented. Lifesavers, neon lamps and talking motion pictures had not been invented yet. A blouse cost 45 cents.

And here’s my father-in-law, learning to live. Learning to walk, talk and survive. A little baby boy that had no idea what he would learn, see and survive in his amazing life.

Leslie was a very smart young man who studied to become an ear, nose and throat doctor. His choice of profession would not only heal others, but it would eventually prove to be a skill so valuable it would save his own life.

Dr. Menyasz joined the armed forces in Hungary to serve as a doctor during World War II. He was taken prisoner in Yugoslavia by the Russians and was taken to an interment camp. A prisoner of war, his medical skill may be all that saved his life. The Russians found him valuable enough to keep alive, although he suffered the starvation and horrible conditions that came with those camps during WWII.

In 1949 Leslie met and married Kathleen. In 1952, their only child Peter was born. Dr. Menyasz had set up a nice practice in Budapest and family life was happy.

At the end of WWII, the Russians liberated Hungary. It was soon apparent that liberation was really domination under tight communist rule. Led by a group of students in 1956, a spontaneous Hungarian Revolution ensued. Freedom fighters fought hard, but Russian tanks fought harder.

The Menyasz family was no longer safe. There was no choice but to flee Hungary and start life over again.

In 1956, Dr. Laszlo Menyasz took his wife and sedated child with nothing but the clothes on their backs and fled Hungary. The stories Leslie used to tell are amazing. The survival. The fear, the sheer determination to make a better life for his small family.

They landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, like so many other immigrants that year. The Menyasz family settled in Saskatchewan and began their lives over again. Dr. Menyasz updated his medical education to start a practice in Canada, and built a very successful practice that he later moved (with his family!) to Abbotsford, BC.

Of course,  Peter grew into an amazing young man (I’m totally objective).

And now, here we are, celebrating Leslie’s 100th birthday. With family, with friends, and with others who fled Hungary during those turbulent times. And still we learn more from them.

It’s impossible to cover everything Leslie has seen through the length of his years. But it does astound me. A century of life, and he’s still doing great. Now, if only I could decipher what his sweet smile really means. . . Happy 100th birthday, Leslie!”

And happy 101st birthday Leslie!