His father waged war without bullets, triumphing over communist oppression during Dictator Ceauşescu’s final decade in rural Romania. Communism robbed freedom, so Nicolae’s father led the family to subtle and overt resistance to retain their dignity. The Cismigiu family built a thriving tomato business and smuggled tomatoes to market to survive. Creatively defying tyranny brought harassment and intimidation directed at what was most valued: family, a prized workhorse, and their tomato farm.
Zeal to keep the spirit of freedom alive came at a cost many could not pay, even the death of a friend during one of their harrowing, midnight tomato smugglings. Joy and sorrow were interwoven into the fabric of the family’s life story, but they focused on happiness and contentment. Grandpa always believed the Americans would come and liberate Romania after WWII but never lived to see the day. Ironically, his dream did come true. It skipped a generation and impacted Nicolae.