I’ve found a long-lost cousin. Now I’ve lost him again! What to do? Language is such an issue, it upsets me that we never learned Hungarian. :( I sometimes do name-Googles… searching around to see what family members are on the web. I also have been sleuthing around for any archived information on my uncle Tamás (Thomas). He was a bit of a playboy bachelor who lived in various places in Europe, including Switzerland and France. He was my father’s younger brother, and we saw him a few times as children but rarely had contact with him.
I distinctly remember going to see him in Switzerland when I was little, and going skiing with him. I was very young. I also remember once or twice he came to Brussels when we lived there and took us skating (I rode on his shoulders). Before his horrible death, he was living between his two residences in Hungary and France (or Switzerland?), married (I believe) to a younger woman and he had finally slowed down enough to have a child. A little boy. We didn’t really have all that much information about them. But then, one day a few weeks ago, I was Googling, and I found an email. Mind you, my family’s last name is very rare. There is a town in what is now Croatia by that name… but the family name is limited to my eldest brother and his wife (who hyphenated), his three boys, daughter and my father; oh and one of my sisters. Other than that… that’s it for that name. I changed my name when I got married (I got tired of people not being able to pronounce it), and so did my cowgirl sister. So I saw this email belonging to a Viktor.
I emailed him. I wrote in English, and then I used an online interpreter (I know, shame on me…) to translate the text into Hungarian. He responded. We managed to cobble together a very muddled conversation using online translators (we’re a long way from Star Trek’s universal translator, that’s for sure), I even thought he might speak French having been born in France… but I don’t think he does. I think what he was saying was that he was 14, or that he lost his father at 14… That’s how bad the translation was.
My uncle Thomas was brutally murdered while in Hungary. He was shot in the back of the head and his house was set on fire with him in it. We don’t know the whole story, but he was a businessman, and we think perhaps he was dealing with less than savoury people. It all seems very Hollywood to talk about it… and also very sad. I remember it was early 2001 when we found out. My dad, who is not an emotional person, was devastated. After that, all mention of him and our young cousin was gone.
I guess with Daddy being so ill, I’ve been feeling it necessary to explore his past, to find information on his brother's family. I was so happy to have found Viktor. When we were sure he was our cousin, he asked for pictures of my uncle, and for more contact information, but when I replied, his email bounced. I hope we don’t lose him forever. In this information age, I’m hoping we’ll find our way back to each other so he can know that he has a decent-sized little family over here in the United States. I told him so, but we never know how clearly it was translated. If only my dad was healthy enough to take over the discourse with him.