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From The Publisher's Desk

A long way back on a Sunday afternoon

It hit me like a ton a bricks Friday afternoon. The flu? By Saturday I was immobilized. I lay in bed unable to get warm, drifting in and out of sleep. The clock said 6, then 9, then 1, then 4.

Sunday, I felt a little better but I ached all over. I couldn’t get comfortable in bed and I couldn’t find anything to entertain me. My book felt too heavy and the print too small. TV noise gave me a headache. I reached for my laptop and got onto Facebook, settling onto a page I hadn’t visited in awhile.

Mike Savoca is a young man in New York City whose roots go back to the same small fishing village on the Adriatic Coast that mine do. Although he is in his early 20s, Mike definitely has an “old soul.” When he is not studying for his college classes, he is researching our ancestry and posting the history of our parents’ obscure Croatian hometown on his Facebook page called Zablace Geneology.

If I want to know anything about my Grgas relatives, I go to Michael’s page. There’s an ongoing chat with relatives literally from all over the world piping in and posting photos. Mike is the geneology authority and sets us straight about why someone is a first cousin twice-removed or how a woman I’ve never met living in Ontario, Canada, and I are related (“your grandfather and her father’s grandfather were brothers”). 

As I took my time Sunday afternoon scrolling through photos and comments that have been added to the page, I was surprised to see a picture of my grandmother taken in 1973, just two years after the first and only time I saw her. 

My recollection of Baba (grandmother) Gara (her nickname, which means “dark,” was bestowed on her because she was always tan) from my two-week visit when I was 21, was that she was aloof and a little grumpy. I could speak some Croatian and understand more, but we definitely weren’t able to sit down at the kitchen table and have a conversation. So we didn’t really interact much.

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