The house we bought in Hamilton was an old brick house in need of some decorating but livable and close to downtown. Incredibly, it was perfect for our needs. It had many rooms, a garage and a back yard. The school was close and the market was at a walking distance inside a shopping mall called Jackson Square. The Hamilton Central Library was located there too. I walked there many times with Krisztina, where she liked spending time in the children’s section.
We occupied the first floor of the house. Being used to living in one room and then an one bedroom apartment, we didn’t need more space. There was a big kitchen, a TV room we used as living room, a living room where we set up our bedroom and the adjacent dining room was Krisztina’s bedroom. There was a four piece bathroom and another room that opened from a hallway from the kitchen that gave it some privacy. We reserved that room for Sári Mama, Árpád’s mother. The upstairs was waiting for Öcsi and his family. There was a kitchen there, two bedrooms and a bathroom. In the basement there was the laundry room, space for the children to play, another bathroom and a cold cellar. We were ready for the family to come.
Arpad worked double shifts for months and we saved enough money to pay off the mortgage on the house in one year. Krisztina made friends at school and befriended a neighbour girl her age. Her name was Patty and her family was Romanian. We got along well with the grandparents. We spoke Romanian with them except for Krisztina who being very young when we left Romania did not learn the language. She played with Patty often at our house or at Patty’s house where her grandmother watched them.
An orange tabby cat decided to move in with us. We didn’t know where he came from but he visited us often and came in the house sat on the couch and left. Until one day he didn’t leave. We named him Micus (kitty in Hungarian).
We accomplished a lot in just two years: bought a house and paid off the loan from the bank, bought two reliable cars, Árpád had a good paying job. Krisztina became fluent in English and her work at school was at the same level as her Canadian-born peers. Canada really was the land of opportunity for us to start a new life and establish roots. We were happy to bring into this world a child who had the privilege of being born a Canadian citizen. Our little girl, Julia, was born on September 2nd, 1984, one day before Árpád’s birthday. He was hoping for her to be born on his birthday but she needed a day on her own. She was a beautiful, healthy little girl and brought joy into our lives. We were happy to have a little baby and Krisztina was a loving big sister. We became a family of four, plus the cat. That was until the beginning of December, when Öcsi and his family and Sári Mama arrived. We had a full house from then on. It was a welcome change after being without family support for so long.
It was fun showing them the Canadian ways. Krisztina had two playmates in the house and a loving grandma and an aunt and an uncle. Árpád had long talks into the night with his brother.
I had help in the kitchen from Nusi and Sári Mama, and Baby Julia enjoyed all the attention she was getting. The basement became the children’s playground where they had races and dance contests. We registered Eva and Csaba to Centennial school where they attended regular school and were taught English. Öcsi found work quite fast in a machine shop even though he didn’t speak English. He had the necessary skills and that was enough.
We had Christmas together and then Easter. Big family dinners in our kitchen. At night we stayed up late and the children too.
When at school the teacher in Krisztina’s class asked the children if they go to bed by 8:00 pm, Krisztina came up with the idea of going to bed at 8:00 pm and getting up soon after. That way she was not lying when she told the teacher that went to bed by 8:00. The teacher didn’t know that she didn’t stay in bed but got up and played some more.
Our house was filled with laughter and noise. Too much noise sometimes.
In the summer especially, the children would run in and out all the time. Up to the second floor and down to the first where we lived and down to the basement. Julia’s afternoon naps were disturbed. We missed our privacy. It was time for a change.
Öcsi was working for a few months now and had a weekly paycheque, Nusi attended English classes at the community centre and the children were attending school . They liked living on MacNab Street North and being within walking distance from all the amenities. Because of this we decided to help Öcsi get a loan from the bank to buy our house for his family and we started looking for another house that we could buy and move in.
We found a free hold townhouse that we liked in the east end of Hamilton and we bought it.
Öcsi borrowed money from the bank and bought our house on MacNab street. We used that money and a loan from the bank to buy the townhouse on 349 Cochrane Rd.
Moving to the new house was a welcome change for us, except for Krisztina who had to change schools again. She finished grades one and two at Centennial School. We moved during the summer. In September she started grade three at Viscount Montgomery School.
It was a better area where we moved than the one we lived before. At Centennial School they had many children who came from problem families, nevertheless, changing schools and making new friends was not easy for her.