Pam and I had bloodwork done this morning. The nurse, very personable and cheerful, was somewhere in her 30s.
“Where is your accent from?” I asked her.
“Where do you think?” she replied.
“Eastern Europe,” I said. I was sure of that much.
She brightened, and gave me a sly smile. “What country?”
“Hungary?” I guessed. I was born on the day the Hungarian Revolution started in 1956, thus my guess.
“Close,” she said, impressed. “Just 45 minutes away. It’s Croatia.”
She then volunteered some glimpses of her story. She was in Sarajevo when the Bosnian War started, and was held by Serbs as a prisoner for 3.5 years. I had read much about that horrible war, including what the Serbs did to prisoners…to women.
“I try not to think about those years,” she told us. “It is in the past. I came to America 15 years ago, and it is home now. I won’t ever go back. I don’t really have any family to go back to.”
This woman had such a happy demeanor, talking with a smile even as she recalled what were no doubt horrible memories. She was a survivor, yes, but also a conquerer.
I don’t have any great life lessons to report. It was just a fascinating encounter, and I keep thinking about it.