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.
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.
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.
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.
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.