Week 10 – Gizella

Never, ever, send cash through the mail.

…So, this week, I sent a $50 bill via the USPS to a longtime friend and someone that has to be a part of this journey.  Sending the envelope kind of felt like running with scissors or playing with matches!

The person is Gizella Balla, who is nothing short of an incredible woman!

While I did mail in the gift, I also purchased the book written about her life and read it this week.

What a courageous person she is. The book is called, Grandma Donut Hole…a true life story.  The name of the book comes from the morning radio show in Lincoln, Nebraska that Gizella was on in the 1990’s. Her wit and humor got her to be on this morning radio show at a time when Gizella was in her 70’s.

But her story, in extreme summary, is that Gizella was born in Hungary and evacuated with her family when the Germans and Russians were fighting over her homeland.  She ended up in Austria and had a horrible nine-year experience during which her father, brother and sister died.  However, during this ordeal, she met a handsome man from Romania and married and had children.  Two of their children were born in Europe, and the other two were born in US.  My connection with Gizella is with her daughter Susie, who was born in the U.S. and who is best friends with my wife.

The path that Gizella has taken has been incredibly difficult.  Unfathonable.  Beyond what any person should have to endure.  The message for me and I hope others is that there are people who have faced and are facing tremendous challenges beyond our comprehension. 

Thus, our day-to-day issues pale in comparison…actually, don’t even register on the scale.  If I ever, for a minute feel sorry for myself and my predicaments, I will think of Gizella….Again, nothing I will likely ever experience will pale in comparison to the pain and challenges that she has faced.

I’ve always had great admiration for Gizella and love for her as a person, but I have to tell you that reading the book about her trials in leaving Hungary, surviving in Austria and traveling to the U.S are amazing, and only further my admiration for her.  She has been through the unspeakable.

The Gizella that I have known over the past 30 years is a woman who, now in her 80’s, is vibrant and so full of life.  We spend many holidays with Gizella…and her daughter Susie, husband Alan and their son Jay (or “Yay” to Gizella).

Gizella is an incredible person, a great soul and someone who inspires everyone who meets her.  I love Gizella.  She is family to me.

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