It’s just been a little over eleven months since my uncle Jóska died… and now it’s one of my aunt’s turn, aunt Zsóka (as a child, I called her Zsóka néni) died in her sleep this morning in Budapest.
I have Zsóka néni to thank for many things, most notably for improving my English. I was around 16 at the time, and I was complaining to her that despite my best efforts, my English is still not anywhere near where I think it ought to be. Her advice: go read a book or two. And don’t use a dictionary, figure it out yourself.
The first ever book I read in English was a gift from her: The Eagle Has Landed, by Jack Higgins. It took a year or so, and several false starts before I was able to get to the end. But my next book took only a few months; the next, just a few weeks; and after that, I was reading English almost as well as I was reading Hungarian.
Needless to say, a few years later when I came to Canada, near fluency in the English language was a tremendous asset. Instead of washing dishes or selling hamburgers, my first job in this country involved writing C-language driver code for a government client. Thanks in large part to Zsóka néni.
Who is no longer with us. She was 77, the oldest of four siblings; now only two of them remain, my mother and my aunt Edina. I hope both of them will remain with us, in good health and in good spirits, for many more years, never mind years, how about decades, to come.