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I’m thankful for: a caring community in my senior years.

I grew up in Budapest, Hungary and my early years of childhood were as idyllic as anyone could hope for. My parents were good-natured and loving, and my father owned a knitting factory so we were financially comfortable. I grew up with two older sisters and spent summers when school was out at our family property located on the side of the Danube.

Unfortunately, the peaceful and carefree times didn’t last. I was just 12 years old when World War II started.

Thankfully, I escaped being conscripted to the military by just one year, however I still experienced the violence of the Russian occupation. We lost my father to the war – and life was never the same for my family.

On my 20th birthday, I escaped to Paris where I found a job at a knitting factory. I later moved to Casablanca, Morocco for another job and my entire family was able to follow me there. I spend my free time playing tennis for both exercise and friendship. After 11 years in Morocco, I immigrated to Toronto in 1959. I spoke very little English, and knew almost nothing about Canada. Nonetheless, I was lucky to find a job shortly after my arrival.

As you might imagine, life as a new immigrant felt very lonely at times. I soon found out about a local tennis club from my sister who was familiar with the area, which I started to attend. Unbeknownst to me, that decision would change my future because this is where I met Barbara, the love of my life. We were wed two years later, and spent 60 happy years together.

Barbara and I were blessed with two children, a son named Andrew Jr. and our daughter Libby. Andrew Jr. now lives with me and helps me in many ways and I speak with Libby by phone every day. As Barbara and I grew older, we sought out opportunities to socialize and make new friends.

It was then that we were first introduced to Better Living Health and Community Services and attended some of their enjoyable parties. Barbara loved to dance, and I was thankful to see her in her element.

Unfortunately, our life changed dramatically when Barbara was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. We spent the next four years not leaving the house as her condition deteriorated. After 60 years of marriage, Barbara died at the end of December 2017. I was devastated to have lost my partner in life and constantly missed seeing her smile. I started to feel very isolated, which was made worse because I also lost several friends around the same time.

That’s when I decided I would get more involved in my community and decided to start volunteering for Better Living Health and Community Services and also enrolled in several of their social, health and wellness programs.

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