Isten kerámikusa - God's Ceramic Artist - Gottes Keramikerin

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Detailed autobiography

I was born in 1952 the first child in a very poor family. My father left the country in 1956, leaving behind two small children and a wife who only occasionally drank. From this point on, it was a downward spiral for my mother. She drank a lot, didn't care much about her children and had no job. As she went down, she pulled us with her. I recall being often so hungry that I would go out into the street and pick sorrel (a kind of wild roadside plant) and other weeds for food. I also spent a lot of time in pubs with my mother.

At 6 years of age, I was a thin pale, little girl and was taken to the Éva Kállai Institute, which I remember as a dark and very unfriendly place. I was scared a lot of the time. Later I was transported to an orphanage in Gencsapáti, a small town near Szombathely, in the western part of Hungary. On the day I arrived, crying and full of anxiety, they put me on a roundabout in the yard which was rotated by an older child. This was the very first time I ever sat on a roundabout. I quickly became dizzy and fell off, right into a puddle, breaking my glasses. The teacher scolded me, dragged me to the principal's office and I was made to kneel on corn. Have you ever done that, dear reader? It is pretty painful after a few minutes.

This institute had a custom of raising the national flag every morning and lowering it in the evening. This was a ceremony where everyone's participation was mandatory. That first night, as they lowered the flag, they made me stand in front of everyone and I was introduced as the new kid who doesn't know how to behave, having caused all sorts of trouble on the very first day. They also dished out ten "pawns" to me--a kind of physical punishment where your fingertips are repeatedly hit with a hard, wooden rod. I think this was the first time in my childhood when I began to think of how good it would be if I didn't exist. I spent only a year at this institution but it left with many terrible memories that scarred me for life.

Then, my mother took me home for a short time. I cared for my younger sibling and helped out a lot. Later, my mother had a new partner, named Lajos, whom she eventually married and who became a father to my two step-sisters. They often drank together. Lajos was an explosive, aggressive man with a foul mouth. He would often beat me, usually on the head. He and Mother often had fights, sometimes to the point of pulling a knife. I remember how much I screamed during my childhood. Police officers were frequent visitors to our home during these years.

We did not have toys, but I loved to climb trees. I could climb higher and faster, even on the tall trees, than the bigger boys, who lived on our street. Perhaps this was one of my first experiences of real success. I was the champion of climbing high trees. There was a tall locust-tree in our yard and I loved to sit on it's branches. One time, maybe due to it being too thin or dry, the branch broke, and I crashed down from above. I was alone. I was badly winded, couldn't breathe. I don't know how long I must have laid there.
My mother often locked us in. She left for the pub and took the key with her. The ceiling of the room where we lived was very high. Above the door, there was a little window that was only locked with a sliding bolt. Again and again I escaped, climbed up with stretched out arms and feet and down on the other side. Actually, it was senseless, since there was nothing worthwhile on the other side to perform a neck-breaking stunt for. But still, again and again I climbed out and then back after a little while, so my mother wouldn't notice.

For a short period of time while I was living home at Rákosszentmihály, I attended an elementary school named after Eta Geisler. I did not like it there. Kids mocked me because of my clothes. I had a pair of shoes that were already worn down when I got them. They looked like they used to be a black and white shoe, that were then "restored" by Lajos. He painted over them and then filled the holes in the soles with paper and some tar like material, which just made the shoes even more ugly. I felt like everyone was looking at my shoes. At school I tried to keep my shoes close down to the ground, so no one would see the soles. In this school I almost died again due to a very serious plant poisoning. (In my life I have been close to death seven times.)

One Sunday Mother and Lajos took us to Normafa (a spot frequented by people of Budapest in the Buda hills). We were overjoyed. It started out to be a nice day. We arrived at a playground, Mother and Lajos went to a buffet to get something to eat. I told Mother that I still had some homework to do. Me and my sister were happy to swing. When Mother and Lajos got back they were pretty drunk. We got some food and then they left again. When they finally came back, they laid down into the grass, and only woke up when it started to get dark. We got home very late and had to walk a lot, so there was no time left to do my homework. The next day in class I was called forward by the teacher to show my home assignment. My teacher rebuked me harshly for not completing my homework and she gave me an F. I used to write a journal in those days. I suppose that is where I wrote about my painful experiences. After receiving an F, I took out my journals weeping and started to write in it. The teacher came to me, started to shout at me, all upset that even then I was not focusing on school work, and took my journal. She read it, crossed out the big F she gave me and then took me up to the principal's office. There they asked me all kind of things and then took me to an other institution in the 3rd district.

I was a shy, well behaved child, who was easily reduced to tears. In this institution the smaller children became the servants of the older ones. They just called "maid (I did not even have a name), bring this here, give that to me, clean my shoe, give me my snack etc." They treated me mercilessly, since I did not speak up for myself. The institution itself, with large, grey windows with bars, resembled a prison more than a children's home. I tried to escape many times. I tested the bars if my head would fit through them but it did not work. Even when I managed to escape they caught me every time.

After a while, I was transferred to the Margit Kaffka girls' home, next to Városmajor. This was a huge change in my life. My maid status was cancelled. There were no boys. I spent 4 years in this institution, with many difficult days. I will just randomly pick out a couple of the many stories I could tell from that time. I escaped 4 times, all of them fairly memorable events. One time they took us on a walk to a garden. Before we took off, the principal announced that if anyone would attempt to escape, they would cut that person's hair off completely, plus some more sanctions. Well, I did escape in that peculiar institutional uniform. I hid behind a pole at a subway tunnel at the Üllői street. Then I ran all the way to the Keleti train-station (which was a great distance). Without a ticket I took a train to Rákosszentmihály. I felt my heart beating in my throat, because I was so scared that somebody would catch me. I found Mother in the pub. I begged her weeping, that she would not take me back to the institution, because they would cut my hair off until I was bald. I promised her that I would be so good, even begin working, if she would let me stay at home. (Later, when I reflected on my past, it puzzled me, why I would escape so many times. At the institute, we had food, they took care of our physical needs. At home, there was fighting and drunkenness. But still I would choose to escape.) Mother, as drunk people normally do, promised me with a raised voice that she would protect me, and the other drunk people chimed in. Then I got a raspberry drink and I could breath freely again. The next day, Mother took me back. Later, when I was a mother myself, I thought to myself, that she did not see, did not feel, that even though I did not cry the whole time, my soul was weeping continually. After every attempt of mine to escape they took me for a gynaecological check-up.

In the institution there was an old teacher, named Mária Unger. Her presence with us was rare, but when it happened it felt like taking a vacation. And then there was Miss Lenke, who had a loud voice, was strict and had purplish hair. I was afraid of her. One time somebody screwed off the top of the salt shaker. I wanted to put some salt into my soup, and all the salt of the shaker was dumped into my soup. Miss Lenke knew that I was innocent, but still she made me eat the whole soup, to which even my salty tears were added. It made me sick. Later I pondered why someone would become a teacher, if she did not really like kids.

When I was in middle school they discovered that I had a lazy eye. They put a bandaid over half of my glasses (it looked ridiculous), and covered my working eye, so that I would be forced to use the weaker one. They told me not to dare to take off the sticker, or I would go blind. I was terrified of going blind. So I barely saw anything from what was written on the board in the classroom. I only dared to peek out with my other eye a couple times. This way I got behind in all subjects but especially in math. I had problems later on because of this. (by the way you can only enhance the sight of a child with amblyopia until the age of 6.)

About 20 of us slept in the same room with 3 beds at the end of the room wich were iron, worn down bunk-beds. Nobody wanted to sleep in those beds. The children above slept in deep holes, but the ones below did not have it any better, since wire was hanging down on them. The skinniest children slept on the top, so did I. Below me laid an unpredictable girl with a loud voice. At times, when it bothered her that I was hanging down too much, or when she just had a bad day, she kicked with both of her legs into the wires, which then caused me in the least expected way to be taken up into the air. I was scared of these kicks, because I never knew when to expect them.

During those days, I prayed every night. I prayed the prayer my Grandmother taught me: "My God, my precious God, I close my eyes, but yours are wide open.... " and then added all those people, whom I loved, my grandmother, Mother, Lajos, and my sisters. And I knew God would take care of them. This prayer was very meaningful to me at that time, it made me feel safe and brought a consistency into my life.

Let me take you on a little detour.

When I was at home during the summer break, my grandmother signed me up for a catechism class at the Rákosszentmihály Catholic church. At the first class, I was cold; we were in a dark, unfriendly room, and there were strange shadows on the wall. The priest was in a dark suit and talked in a strict manner, that this is the house of God, etc. I did not understand much of what he was saying. I never went back, but I did not dare tell it to my Grandmother who already paid for 10 hours. I remember, thinking to myself as a child, how God could live in such a cold and dark place. Poor him. He always had to stay in there. And I was just happy that I did not have to.

From the institution we walked over to the Városmajor school every day, lined up in pairs and accompanied by a teacher. We crossed a street too. I always found things to look at, or just started to day dream. My teacher got upset with me for this many times. "Mayer!" she shouted, "You again out of line. How many times have I already told you?"

In 1966 after I finished the Elementary School, I was transferred to a Children's Home in Fót, with a trade school. I had known for a long time, that I wanted to teach children, and that my heart was filled with love for them. The Children's home was like a recreational place compared to the other institutions I have been to. To me it was a nice place. You could see how people cared about creating a loving place for children. Of course I did escape from there too a couple times, but as much as is possible without parents, we had a good life there. I am grateful for many things to the Children's Home at Fót. The name of the principal, Lajos Barna, is written with loving, red ink into my heart forever. With founding this institution in 1957, he enabled several 1000 children, to have a loving home, as much as it was possible in their cases. Our teacher, Mrs. Éva Tóth Elemérné gave her life, to teach, love and nurture other people's children. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, Mrs. Éva!

Here in the Children's Home, Mrs. Erzsi Benkő did not let me pass in math. I got so far behind because of my taped over glasses. I hardly understood anything. I missed the foundations. I had such a fear in my heart during every math class. I went home for the summer break, knowing that I had to catch up a lot so I could pass the re-take exam in the fall. But how should I prepare for the exam? Who could explain to me the mystery of sines, cosines, equations? Mother, who was educated at the pub? Or Lajos, who had a Master's degree in cussing? Or my precious grandmother, who would have gotten an A in virtue, but did not even finish middle school? I passed the re-take exam.

There were 10 preschools at the Children's Home. We had our internship there, to become future preschool teachers. I loved the children. They were so grateful for every kind word and loving touch. Every first Sunday of the month we had visitors coming. This was a big event even in the lives of the older ones. We were eagerly preparing for it. The smaller children were so excited ahead of time. They imagined who would come, what gifts they would receive. We would walk out to the gate on those Sunday afternoons, up to the gate,from where we could see the bus station. On the way there, we were cheerful, we sang songs and laughed together. And then we waited and waited and waited... Out of the 16 preschoolers, normally 4-5 would receive some visitors. We dragged our feet back, all quiet, and one could hear some sniffles. Mothers, where have you been??? Then I swore to myself that, if I would have children, they would never ever get into an institution. I would shower them with the love and care, that I never received myself. It is such an unspeakable tragedy when a child is left behind and unimaginable what happens in their souls.

My 4 years at the Children's Home at Fót taught me a lot. We were 30 in our class. 16 of them were taken care of by the state and 14 came into the school from their homes. They went home every day. Up to this day I organize a yearly class reunion (even when I lived in Austria). Mrs Éva joins us at times as well, or Mrs. Ica, who was our form master. We are together once again (even if our numbers are decreasing), and we enjoy each other's company. Whenever I visit Mrs. Éva, my heart sinks, because I see what became of the Children's Home. How good, that Mr. Lajos B. does not see this anymore.

In 1970 when I got out of the Children's Home, there was no such thing as support for disadvantaged young people. With a little paper suitcase I went home to my grandmother, Mother, Lajos and two of my sisters. Who will counsel me, what I should do the next day? Mother? Lajos? Or my grandmother? It was hard to find my way all by myself. I had to earn money. I had to make enough to take care of myself and help those at home. At a young age, when I was at the institution, I created a standard that my future husband would need to live up to.

I will write down the 3 most important things from my list:

1. He should not drink!
2. He should not be aggressive or have a foul mouth!
3. He should be intelligent.

My first relationship was with Tamás. I was still living at the Children's Home when I got to know him. He was gentle and smart. He lived in the Castle District at the Dísz square. His father was the president of the National Neural and Mental Health Institution. His mother had a good position too. I had never seen such a luxury before. Tamás knew a lot of poems by Attila József by heart. I enjoyed listening to him. Then his parents forbid him to see me. With my state home background and having no fortune at all, I was not a good match for this family. Tamás was a very good person. I already knew my husband of today, but he was helping me to get ready for exams at the university, subjects such as physics or chemistry. He even attended my wedding. Tamás died in his junior year at college studying to become a doctor.

Years later, after my son died, I called his mother and asked her how one can survive the death of her child. She came to me for a visit. (At that time we lived at the hill of Liberty in Budapest in a big house.) We talked. She apologized. And we cried together, we were bound together by the horrendous pain of losing a child.

My husband lived up to every standard I had. When I got to know him and his parents, I thought, what if they too find out about my past as a state foster child, and what poverty I was living in? I had a winter coat that I sewed myself but I did not have any money for a lining. I was always scared to take it off, thinking "what will they think of me?" By the way, it looked really nice on the outside. My father-in-law and mother-in-law embraced me with great love and kindness. For the first time I got a taste of what a real family looks like. As long as I live, I will remember them with gratefulness. It was they who gave me my first warm winter coat in my life. My father-in-law was a CEO. They were activists, and did not own a car, or a weekend-house (compared to the parents of Tamás), they lived in a state owned apartment. They never talked about God. But there I received so much love from them.

Another detour.

When I was working in the 20th district, as an unqualified teacher, while attending the Gyula Juhász Pedagogy College, I met a little boy, named Karcsi. He was skinny, pale, not well taken care of, even smelled bad at times. Supposedly he was the most deviant child in that school. I loved this little boy. I spent a lot of time with him. Many people rebuked him. I did not understand, since whenever he spent time with me, he behaved really well. He looked for me many times during breaks and gave me a hug, and I hugged him. And that made our days. I still remember him at times. Where is he now? Does anyone give him a hug today? Does anyone love him?

In 1975 my son, Balázs, was born. Unspeakable joy! I received my diploma of pedagogy. I was a teacher now! We had an apartment. I had a real family. Mother still drunk a lot. In all truth, at times I was ashamed of how my mother looked, but I still loved her. She got herself in undignified situation many times because of her drinking. One time she was drunk at our place and she peed on the carpet. I was deeply ashamed of that in front of my husband. Another time when she came to visit, I was questioning her about something. We got into a fight. I don't even really know how it happened, but I slapped her face. Then she told me: "I curse you, you shall know real pain." And she even added that since 1945 this curse is working again. I became really sad, but also believed this silly thing. I did not believe that someone could harm another person by just speaking out some words. March of 1977 my beautiful daughter, Zsófi was born. In April one of the many suicide attempts of my mother was successful. Looking back, I do think that at times I was impatient with her. But I simply could not fathom why she was unable to quit drinking. Today, I know, to get out of an addiction is very hard. I experienced it myself.

My sweet Balázs.

He was a gifted child. Very smart. Read and counted at the age of 5. He had incredible drawings of spaceships and stars. He knew the planets of the solar system. One of his favorite books was the Great Atlas of Astronomy by Menzel. He went to the same school where I was teaching older children. I was incredibly proud of him. I loved him so much. We experienced so many things in 8 years. On March 12th 1983, we were sitting together in our living room. It was an unforgettable evening, and the next day he died in a car accident. Maybe one day I will have the strength to write about the unspeakable. After years I realized that if I would have listened to my inner voice on that day, then he would still be alive today. At that time I did not know that it was important to pay attention to it. Today I know. But that does not bring him back. Even after 30 years, it hurts so much! After the accident, the reformed priest, who lived in our apartment complex, came down to us and started to talk about God. I told him, that I don't need a God like that, who would allow my little son to die. He must have know what Balázs meant to me.....!
I was put into a closed psychiatric unit at the Kútvölgyi Hospital. I did not want to live any longer. All the pain and suffering of my life up until then flooded me. Closed unit, drugs, sleeping pills, electroshock therapy. I remember for a longer phase at every treatment I asked the doctor who gave me the anesthetic shot to inject it in a way that would prevent me from ever waking up. I had to swallow a handful of pills. The nurse stood next to me until I swallowed every single one of them. Then they transferred me to a psychiatric rehabilitation unit. The number of pills given to me was insane. It still upsets me that I got such strong mind-altering drugs. One time, after swallowing all those pills, in front of everybody, I was kissing a man with glazed over eyes, just like me. The nurse took notes. The next day I went to the doctor and told her that I would refuse to take that many drugs. It would take a long time to write down all the things that happened at the hospital, but I am still against all the insults and harm done to people under the cover of psychiatry. I don't want to write about the period after the car accident. I would just hurt people by that and that is not my intent.
When it came to light that I had a new life growing in me again, I knew I had to immediately stop taking any drugs. I cried through the whole day. The doctor told me that I would have a sick child if I would not stop crying. But how could I stop crying? This pregnancy was incomparable with the one when I was carrying Balázs. Back then everything was glowing, everything filled with joyful anticipation. Now everything was dark. I could not even leave the room... Dávid was born, and he was a "healthy", beautiful baby. I tried to teach again, but I could not. My classes were full of fun before and now I burst out in tears in-front of the children. The kids were not responsible for my sadness. I was unable to teach.

My sweet grandmother lived with us in our home, up until her death. Then Kriszti was born, and I had 3 children with many tasks that needed to get done. I was very happy with my children, but I missed Balázs terribly. I took sleeping pills and increased the dosage.

In 1987 I had clay in my hands for the first time. I was moulding the mud.

We moved to Austria in 1989. My husband had a job opportunity there. Austria was great, yet difficult at the same time. I was alone with the kids a lot of time. My husband had a lot of business trips. I would like to share more about Austria an other time. The Austrians were very kind to us, they took us in. The Austrian Red Cross got an A+ from me, for treating us with such dignity, and what they did for us. I still have a dream at times about walking in Baden, in the Casino Park. It is a beautiful Sunday, I am listening to the free of charge concert in the open. People I have never met, greet me, smile at me. In Austria.

In 1994 I welcomed Jesus into my heart and asked him to be with me as long as I lived. I made lots of ceramics in Austria. I had an art studio. Clay can be easily formed. When I did some art, joy and peace filled me. I gave away my works. I attended a church in Vienna, where I experienced the power of prayer for the first time. I could stop taking sleeping pills.

Dávid was a special child and we walked on a hard journey together. I experienced many unusual things happening to me. Miracles. I did not understand why me? Dear reader, there were so many more things happening. This time of intense reflection is very hard for me. I experience those things once again, as I am remembering them. Later, when I will introduce to you my ceramics, I will tell you some unique stories, that happened to me/us.

I would like to tell you about Austria, about the city of Sopron, where we partially lived for 4 years. I would like to tell you the story about how my son Dávid totalled my car, and got out of the upside down car without a scratch. What great difficulties my daughter Kriszti went through. I would like to share the power of prayer with you. And then the miracles. .

About Today.

My daughter, Zsófi, studied Christian Psychology in Germany. I see her as one of the best and most loving mothers on this earth. Soon she will give birth to her 4th child. She is so patient, smiles a lot, and does many things so much better than I ever did. Special thanks to her for the English translation of this site.

My son-in-law is an American missionary.  My 3 little grandchildren, who are so lovable. Sweet Eszti, who reminds me in so many ways of Balázs. At the age of 6 she is teaching a workshop on love to me.

My son Dávid, whose life (our shared lives) are full of long, adventurous, not dull for a moment stories. I could share more about these. He is today an employee of the Austrian National Bank, and when I saw his Master's thesis, from which I could not understand a single word, and not because it was written in English (I would not have understood it in Hungarian either), then again I can only think of how merciful God is to me. The combination of David's two degrees - Management Science (Magister) and Quantitative Finance (Master of Science) - is unique in Austria.

My daughter Kriszti, my youngest one, whose heart has a place for every issue of our world, helps a lot those who are in need. There were lots of times of adventures with her as well. Now she is writing her Master's thesis in Vienna, while being financially independent. At times she exhibits such wisdom, that inwardly I bow my head before her. Special thanks to her for the German translation of this site.

God, thank you for my children!

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Fotók: B. Molnár Béla