gmhTODAY 02 gmhToday May June 2015 - Page 28

Anna Lelescu everyone has a story Passport to Freedom F our in the morning came early on the farm in Banat, Romania as Mama Ana quietly rose to make a breakfast of fresh-baked bread, milk, homemade sausages and still warm eggs collected from the hens. Tapping on the door to waken her granddaughter Ana — her namesake— who was already up and ready for the day, Ana would quickly make her way down to the kitchen where her family would gather to start the work day. This was how Ana Lelescu began many of her childhood days. While it seemed like an idyllic life, in communist Romania, it was anything but unspoiled for most. Ana’s family was more fortunate, however. They owned three acres of land, including an apple orchard. It was here they raised cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys and two 28 Written & Photographed By Laura Wrede horses. “I felt privileged,” Ana said. “We did not worry about food although we all worked hard to get it. A lot of people living in the cities were staying in long lines to get their rationed food in those times. I had a happy childhood with long walks with my sister to our land up in the hills to work alongside my grandparents. My favorite was hay harvest during summer. I remember collecting wild flowers and the smell of fresh cut grass.” Life during the mid century was an unrelenting strain for many. Romania was under the rule of President Nicolae Ceausescu who was known for his iron- fisted rule. Ceausescu was a defender of Socialism and rejected the reforms adopted by other Eastern European states. He formed a secret police organization known G M H T O D A Y M A G A Z I N E MAY / JUNE 2015 as the Securitate which encouraged residents to inform on each other. It created a strong element of distrust. This instilled fear in Ana and her family. “I was told not to talk about our land and good fortune with anyone as ‘the Communists’ may take it away, or even worse, arrest my parents. I was very secluded and had no outside friends. I trusted no one. It was a must,” Ana said. “I grew up trusting none outside my family, like in a cocoon…Communism was hated by everyone, but life seemed to go on. I was very scared that we would lose our farm and my parents would be arrested.” School and education were very important to Ana’s parents. They eventually moved from the farm house to the “City” in Timisoara. Both her parents were teachers. “We lived