R is for “rodzina”

Poland-eagle-150squareRodzina is the Polish word for family, and what an important word it is.

For many years “Polish family”, to me, meant just Dad.  My English mother, Nancy, has been dead for 23 years, and, having no brothers and sisters, ours was a small family unit.  Then came the fateful phone call.  I’ve told the story countless times, but it still fills me with wonder.

Dad (centre) reunited with his brothers and sisters after 64 years

Dad (centre) reunited with his brothers and sisters after 64 years

Unknown to him, in Poland, awaited an enormous family.  Following the phone call, arrangements were made for us to visit.

From his second marriage, to Laura, Dad already had inherited quite a large English family.  Laura was a lovely lady, but she died on Dad’s 70th birthday, leaving him saddened and lonely.  My presence and that of my stepbrother, Tony, and his family, was not enough to fill the gap.  My stepsister, Lynne, though always in touch, was far distant in Canada.  That phone call changed Dad’s life.  It also made quite a difference in mine.

Arriving at the farm with cousin, Adam

Arriving at the farm with cousin, Adam

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My cousin Marysia, and neice, Kasia

Ewa in the forefront, Marysia and Jadzia on the right

Cousins, Ewa, forefront, Marysia and Jadzia on the right- Dad, centrestage!

If you’ve followed any of my Polish A-Z you’ll know that I have 26 cousins (one for each letter of the alphabet?) so it’s impossible to show them all here.  Off we went to Poland, with camera crew in tow.  Dad was featured on North East Tonight on 15th March 2007.  Watching the webcam still has me sniffling.

After a day or so in beautiful Kraków, with my cousin Adam, we drove north to meet the family.  The cacophony of tooting horns and voices as we drove in through the farmyard gates will stay with me for a very long time.  Then, in good old Polish fashion, jemy i pijemy– we ate and we drank! A drive through the woods helped Dad to familiarise himself with the place he had left behind so long ago.

Lighting candles

Lighting candles

As all Polish visits seem to do, we ended up at the cemetery.  They may celebrate life in fine style, but they never forget to honour loved ones.  And the bigger the family, the more the farewells.  Already I have said goodbyes to my much-loved Aunt Anna, and to uncle Włodek’s wife, Janina.  Cousins Gosia and Dominik were both much too young to die.  But life is seldom gloomy around my Polish family.

Life is full of smiles (here with neice, Ula)

Life is full of smiles (here with neice, Ula)

Nephew Lukasz with his sister Weronika, soon to be wedded to Wojtek (front)

Her brother, Łukasz, and sister Weronika, soon to be wedded to Wojtek

Beautiful scenery

Beautiful scenery, like Wawel Cathedral

Like these fountains in Krakow

These fountains at Pałac Sztuki in Kraków

And a chess piece or two.

A chess piece or two

And cake!

And cake!

Dad has always been kind, caring and the very definition of a gentleman, whatever life has brought his way.  You can read more of his story here.  I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing tales of my rodzina Polska.  Many thanks to Julie Dawn Fox, who started me off on this Personal A-Z series, and to my good friend at Frizztext for welcoming me to his A-Z.  Please click on the links or the logos to see more.



    1. Hi, Frizz 🙂 I’m just back from Barcelona tonight so excuse my late reply. Hope you enjoyed your boating holiday. 🙂
      Your question quite surprised me. I love the family but I don’t see myself ever living there. I did wonder if Dad might want to return to his homeland, but even he feels that his life and friends are here. I already was mapping out my future in Portugal when I discovered that I had family in Poland. It has changed my life quite a bit already, but I don’t think to that extent.

  1. A story that make all of us believe in the power and magic of family. It is a joy to see your family…lots of happy, loving family. I’m used to be around lots of family and relatives until I moved to America. One of the price to pay for leaving one’s homeland. Beautiful post. Thank you.

    1. Family is the main reason that we haven’t made the move to Portugal. Sometimes I feel like I have put my own life on hold, but then I realise how very much I have to be grateful for. Thanks for your support and your kind words always. 🙂

  2. Just amazing Jo to go from such a small family to such a large family. And I can see that you enjoy all their company very much. Lovely story.

      1. I think you’re doing a great job Jo. My Hungarian neighbours sometimes try to teach me a little of their language. So I know how difficult it can be. They have trouble even managing to help me to pronounce the words the right way the first time let alone remember them till next time!

  3. What a lovely and happy post, Jo. Your dad must have been overjoyed to find he had so many lovely relations overseas. It obviously gave him a new lease on life. Your two nieces, Kasia and Ula, are beautiful young women. Just think, if you hadn’t discovered these relatives, you might never have tasted that delicious looking Pijak. 🙂

    1. You wouldn’t believe how much Polish cake I’ve eaten in these few short years, Ad! Adam owns a baking manufacturers and recently ventured into his first cake shop, which Ula helps to run. 🙂

  4. I am dying to taste some pijak now!!!! Rodbina is Croatian word for Rodzina. … I know you don’t care to know :D. When were these Polish pic taken?

    1. I do! I do! I’m learning Croatian in my spare time 🙂 🙂
      The first group of photos, March 2007 and those of me and Ula onwards, May this year. Ula and Lukasz help to run the cake shop, which is part of Adam’s bakery business.

  5. Your dad looks so happy in the photo with his siblings. It is so good that he had a chance to meet up with them again – and at a time when he needed more family.

  6. A truly beautiful story, I enjoyed reading about it before and still do.
    I love the photo of you with Marysia and Kasia, the affection for you in your Neice’s face is very obvious.

    1. Thanks, Vicky. It seems a long time ago now 🙂
      I have a tiny webcam of Dad on North East news and I half planned to share it but technology defeated me. I don’t really mind because it’s a bit over-sentimental and not wholely accurate.

  7. I love this story Jo … I love to read it each time you touch on it, how marvellous to find his family!!! You know we have a Marysia in the family, the other grandmother of my new baby grandson Marcel (in Paris) … I have not written about him at all because they want his life to be internet free … but Marysia is there now with them, and no doubt thinking of her Polish father who came to Scotland during the war and married her Scots mother … and now has another descendent.

  8. è una storia bellissima per aprire il pc con il buongiorno, una storia dove l’amore è quello con la A maiuscola, e la famiglia ne è il fulcro. Questo mi fa commuovere e mi è difficile trovare parole giuste per andare avanti…ti dico solo che spero ancora per molti, molti anni per te questi incontri nella tua bella Polonia, con tutta questa grande famiglia meravigliosa
    Grazie Giovanna, un abbraccio molto grande che possano entrarci tutti loro

    It is a beautiful story to open the pc with good morning, a story where love is the one with the capital, and the family is the core. This makes me move and I find it difficult to find right words to go forward … we only say that I hope for many, many years for you these meetings in your beautiful Poland, with all this big wonderful family
    Thanks Joan, a very big hug they can get all of them

    1. Blees you, Ventis, for all your kind thoughts and words. I will be with them again next May for Weronika’s wedding, if all goes well. Have a lovely day, cara. 🙂
      I’m going out for a birthday lunch with a friend. My birthday isn’t till next week but I’ll be in Barcelona (big smile! 🙂 )

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