My dad found another box of stuff in the basement at my grandparent’s house. Going through it, we found a book from my great-grandfather’s funeral as well as his obituary and this letter to my great-grandmother from Podbiel, Slovakia—all of which spelled their last name as “Salus” (though I think that the letter on the end might be an “š”).

Either way, it was an interesting find because although my grandpa only spoke Slovak with his parents, he was always vague about the name. He told us that it had been spelled differently at one point—but never offered up that he new that spelling or that his parents still used it. Even my great-grandmother’s “real” name was a surprise—to us she was always Anna.

I’ve written before about my own experiences as an expat as they relate to the experiences of my immigrant relatives—but it really does fascinate me how they gave up their lives, identities, and places in ways that are so much more drastic than what I’ve needed to do.

The photo of the house was also in the box—it was identified with the same address that the letter was addressed to—my great-grandparent’s house, of course.