Thursday, July 08, 2010

Life's journey: Growing up in Romania, living in Paradise


As World Cup fever grips the world, Gregory Ghica of Paradise, who has taught political science at Butte College, writes that his early skill in soccer "was a great asset in my struggle to survive alone in this world. . . . Through soccer I managed to obtain a Romanian passport and had the opportunity to escape the Communist regime." He came to the United States in 1969, received a Master's Degree in physical education from UC Berkeley, coached soccer and tennis, then obtained a Master's in political science from Cal State Long Beach. It has been an eventful life.

Ghica was born in Romania in 1936. His father was an appeals court judge who died when Ghica was only thirteen, but not before writing his "Will and Testament" in which he admonishes Ghica and his brother to love and care for each other and their mother. "If you follow my advice, you will show the supreme recognition and respect for me even after my death."

Though Ghica only saw the document fifty years after it was written, it provides the frame for his memoir, "A Life To Remember: From the Dungeon of Communism to the American Dream" ($18 in paperback from The book is available at Lyon Books in Chico, where Ghica will be signing copies on Wednesday, July 14 at 7:00 p.m.

The book contains several sections of black-and-white photographs which depict the beauty of Romania and illustrate Ghica's penchant for travel. Acknowledging encouragement from the writer's workshop at Chico State University, Ghica writes clearly. He details the difficulties he faced as the son of a man "not of the working class." More than once good fortune spared him some of the harsher demands of the Communist system. He believes in a Supreme Being, he writes, "but I have never been able to accept any particular church, any formal religion, or, certainly, any man of the cloth."

At the end of the book there are lessons learned. Among them: "No matter what you know, the most important thing is who you know"; "no matter how good and solid a friendship is, that person will sometimes hurt my feelings"; "happiness is like snow--beautiful when it comes and miserable when it melts."

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