Saturday, May 16, 2009

Big Mist

Great Grandmother Kertes was a small, round, fleshy woman from the old Austrian-Hungarian Empire also known as The Holy Roman Empire, and The Hapsburg Empire. It wasn't much of an Empire as much as it was a remnant of an already moribund kingdom. I have no memory of Gramma Kertes, except for one photograph my aunt has on the wall of her home showing her outdoors wearing a scarf over her hair, a dress reaching nearly to the ground, and a thick sweater. My eldest sister has clear memories of Gramma Kertes and now and then shares stories as she remembers them with great humor and gusto.

Gramma Kertes received a letter one day from the old country. She sat down to read and suddenly clasped her hands to her cheeks, squeezing her mouth into a tight O, exclaiming in her heavy Hungarian accented English, "Oy, yoy, yoy! I am big mist! I am big mist! Oy, yoy,yoy!".

What, everyone wanted to know, did she mean she was a "big mist?" Gramma Kertes had come to America believing that Peter, her first husband, a soldier-of-fortune, a professional soldier for hire, a mercenary, was dead, killed in some unknown battle somewhere. With that knowledge, Gramma Kertes remarried. This shocking letter informed her that Peter still lived. Gramma was convinced that her second marriage without benefit of death or divorce made her a "big mist," a woman with two husbands at once.

At the time, the news caused Gramma Kertes great consternation, but nothing untoward ever came of Peter's survival, or Great Gramma's status as a bigamist. Today, it is a treasured family story of a woman I wish I had memory, but am fortunate to know those who do.



Update: My sister, Indigo Rose, informs me the correct spelling is Kirtis, not Curtis. When relating family stories, it's as important as it is in school to make sure the whole story is told including names, places, dates, and, yes, spelling counts.

Update II: The correct spelling is now Kertes, not Kirtis, nor Curtis. I have substituted the corrected spelling in the story itself.



The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

1 comment:

Indigo Rose said...

Good Grief, Indigo! In double checking the spelling.... It is KERTES!
Sorry for giving you misinformation.
I loved hearing that story. I had not heard it before, or perhaps I had never taken the time to listen.