5 photos, 5 stories- Day 2

Meet Kinga!

Meet Kinga!

Yesterday was Day 1 of my 5 photos, 5 stories challenge and you met some of Kinga’s bears. Today I’m introducing Kinga herself- a shy 5 year old, with all the exuberance a child can bring to a willing playmate.

I should pause here to thank Minerva, Nin, Elaine and Viveka for nominating me for this challenge.  I know you’ll enjoy their company and the stories they have to share.  As the name suggests, I will be posting 5 photos, accompanied by 5 stories, on 5 consecutive days.

What does it say about this family when Hubert (Kinga’s dad), who works full time and also is building a home for his family, has taken the time to make this playhouse/slide before their house is even complete?  Well- they like fresh air, that’s for certain, and are planning to make the most of a Polish summer.  The single storey, but spacious, home now has a bathroom fitted, and the family will move in soon to make that final push to completion.

Dad’s father, Bołeslaw Szustakiewicz, owned a good-sized parcel of land, which he farmed with the help of his sons and daughters.  It was one of Dad’s jobs, as a boy, to take the cows to a stream, before they settled for the night. After his father died, the land was divided between the surviving children.  Dad, torn from his home during the war, was no longer a part of the inheritance.  Returning to his homeland some 64 years later, it is wonderful to see how that land has been used.  My Polish family have introduced me to a new way of living.

My cousin Jadwiga is Bołeslaw’s granddaughter.  She inherited a sizeable plot, on which she and Andrzej built their own home, and a lovely garden.  Daughter Ania (Kinga’s mum) has lived, with her family, in an extension of her parents home while Hubert has been building, in the grounds. It’s now their turn to reap the benefits of all that hard work.  As well as raising a family, in her spare time Ania designs and makes children’s shoes.  Tomorrow we might look at some, and I’ll tell you more about the land and its new owners.

Now it’s time to nominate!  I’m offering this to Viv in France, not with any conviction that she will take up the challenge, but Viv does post her brilliant poems very regularly and I’d love you to read them.  The back story to this post is My personal A- Z of Poland.  Hopefully see you tomorrow?





  1. Ahh Jo, I have so much to catch up with here, after yet another protracted absence from blogging. Blaming the bank holiday and gardening chores this time 😉 But I am so enjoying your family stories. How interesting to read about the family inheritance and the way the land is being used now. Just love this photo, such a sweetie and what a fab playhouse. I always wanted my children to have one but it never happened. I had a thing for Wendy houses myself. But now I’ve got my own, grown-up version with my Summerhouse, so I’m not complaining! Right…onto to your next story…

  2. What fun to have such a wonderful tree house! There will be many lovely memories made as a little girl in this special place, I am sure!

  3. There’s nothing like a parcel of ancestral land to make you feel connected and rooted. Such a hardworking and industrious family, Jo. Creative, too…taking time out to build a playhouse for Kinga. She’s a cutie. 💁

  4. I always like listening to stories about family roots. It is too bad that inheritance of land could not be given since he left Poland, Jo. I think you are blessed to know so many members of your extended family.

    1. It wasn’t a conscious decision to exclude him, Robin. So far as the family knew, he was dead for 64 years. And yes, I am. Very blessed! 🙂 Thanks for reading the story.

  5. I am enjoying this very personal story of your background. Do we know why/how your dad got separated and ended up in Poland? I am wondering if you have covered this in the A-Z Poland. It is so good that he is reunited with his family. Another story.

    1. You should have been a sub-editor, Jude. You ask all the pertinent questions 🙂 (or does that come from hours of reading essays as an English teacher? I know you taught, but not what?)
      I’m glad you’re enjoying this. I’m enjoying the writing very much. The reasons for the estrangement are a bit vague but I touched on them in https://restlessjo.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/exploring-the-polish-connection/
      Probably I should have linked to that rather than the A-Z, which obviously needs work. I should have revised it before I started on this. Maybe when the blog crashes and I start again 🙂

  6. I wish I had a play house like that …. when I was younger. *smile Love your family stories and to read about your origin background. I’m so happy that my generation (so far) haven’t had to suffer through a war. Not any generation should have to do that … anywhere in the world. War means so much pain, sorrow and suffering to us. Lovely post, Jo!

      1. What war does to people …. this with splitting up families … thinking about the Berlin wall did for so many years. Look what is happening around the world today .. on far too many places. Glad that your father got his family back and it seams to be plenty of them.

  7. Oh, these Polish stories. I am sure there are dark pages, but you can take the long view and see the rich present. What a loss to you father – not materially – and what a gift to have land in Poland. One thing I regret for my Polish grandchildren is living in an apartment.

    I’m looking forward to the shoes.

    1. What fun your tinies could have with the playhouse and sandpit, Meg! It is a beautiful garden Jadzia has. It was her blossoms we saw in the 6WS post.
      Dad guzzles up every precious second of his Polish life. The loss is incalculable but life overall has been very kind to him. He is well-loved in 2 families. And if not for the strange twist of fate, I wouldn’t be here 🙂

  8. That’s a well-made playhouse. Judging from this alone I could imagine how their real house looks like when it’s done. Truly made out of love.

  9. Jo, this is a heartwarming story with elements that had the potential for endless conflicts. Your reaction speaks volumes of the fabric you are made of. Your father surely is a exceptional human being; and apples don’t fall far from their trees. Thanks.

    1. There is enough strife in my English family to appreciate the joys of belatedly acquiring a Polish one, Lucille. I have met with nothing but kindness in Poland. Life has some strange twists and turns, doesn’t it? Thanks for your kind response. 🙂

  10. Jo, I was reading your last post late last night about your visit with your Polish relatives, you were getting some comfort from the teddy bears in the room where you slept. I’m always charmed by your visits to Poland, and look forward to reading the continuing series. The treehouse is a lovely gift from a busy father…I always wanted one just like it when I was a child. Have a beautiful day, Jo!

    1. I had to try the slide out, Elisa 🙂 Quite sturdy enough for my weight 🙂
      Today was another lovely Spring day. Nothing to complain about and the company of a lovely friend (who also has Polish family) at lunchtime. Hope yours was happy too!

  11. What a mark Bołeslaw left – his hard work has given his descendants a real future. And even if your dad couldn’t be part of it then, it is marvellous that they have all welcomed you so openly

  12. So many Polish men got detached from their roots by WW2. I’m glad your Dad was able to find his way home at last. We have a chum whose Polish father omitted to tell him that he had left another family back in Poland during the war. It was only when his father died, he discovered that he had a Polish half-sister. In times of turmoil and conflict, you can see how these things happen. Oh and I do so envy Kinga her summerhouse. Perhaps I can persuade G to make me one from pallets 🙂

      1. At the moment he’s making some gadget that’s to do with bookbinding. I might need to broach the summerhouse notion rather carefully 😀

  13. We moan and groan about what we have and don’t have but it’s so easy to forget the hardship and struggles that those generations before us (and others of our generation) overcame and still fight to overcome.

    1. Dad missed some seriously hard times in Poland, Tanya. Overall I think he came out of it all very well. And how lovely to discover, in later years, the comfort of a loving family. 🙂

  14. Those parents are so hard working to build their own home. My own father and us also built our home ourselves during weekends.

  15. This story of land and inheritance and family is so sweet to read. I am glad your family still has roots in ancestral land. I have mentioned before the Polish children who came to NZ during the war. One of their descendants has recently written a memoir of family and exile. http://vup.victoria.ac.nz/give-us-this-day To end on a lighter note; it was my father’s job to bring in the cows, too.

    1. I am focusing on the positives in the story, Ann (funnily enough I just typed something to that effect for Day 3). There’s more than enough sadness in the world, isn’t there? Thanks for the link. I’ll have a read a bit later. Hugs! 🙂

      1. Yes, it’s good to focus on the positives. I had just read a review of the book earlier in the week, and felt sad, which is why your positive post was so reassuringly sweet to me.

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