It’s the birthday of my late husband Charles Novacek’s mother Maria Patko Nováčková. She was born on January 8, 1902, in the village of Ožd’any in Austria-Hungary, the present day Slovakia near the Hungarian border. As Charles stated in his memoir, Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance “Mother’s native language was Hungarian and I learned to speak it proficiently from her.” She read Hungarian stories and poetry to her son.

Charles dearly loved “Maminka.” He said she had a beautiful voice and a pretty face – he wanted to paint it. He particularly loved this pose of Maminka on a tree stump with a bouquet of flowers in her hands.

She wasn’t a big talker, but had a quiet manner about her and was very polite. From Charles and through photographs I’ve seen of her I could tell she was graceful and well-groomed.

From humble roots, Maria had attractive clothing and a simple elegance that made her seem aristocratic, but not pretentious.

Sadly, I never met Maria Nováčková.

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