Reminiscences from Poland, 2

If you read Reminiscenses from Poland, you know that I reached Bełchatów, almost without mishap.  Immediately I was enveloped in a warm Zawady welcome, in the place that Dad once called home.  His only remaining sister, Aunt Lusia, lives there still, daughters and grandchildren close at hand.  A long summer evening was spent in her garden, rabbits proliferating, and a cardboard box sheltering the tiniest kittens you ever saw.  I could feel my ankles being bitten, the pond and the sultry air an open invitation.  All in a good cause.  Her arm tucked through mine, we took a gentle turn beneath the apple trees.  Not long since she was in hospital, with family fearful that she would not recover.

As darkness fell and eyes began to droop, I was returned to cousin Jadzia’s house.  Halfway through my Polish adventure.  I had scoured timetables, and lost sleep over how I would get from Bełchatów to Kraków.  In the event, the problem was solved for me.  Jadzia’s daughter Ania and family were driving to the Tatry Mountains, south of Kraków, for a few days holiday.  If I didn’t mind being a bit squashed, they would take me with them and break the journey at Adam’s house.  I’ve never been one to mind a squeeze.  And so it was that me and 2 little girls, with 2 sunhats and a furry green frog, shared the back seat on a 4 hour journey.

We took the scenic route to avoid roadworks, but it was market day in Radomsko, and the car crawled beside the brimming stalls.  Once out in gently rolling countryside, Hubert slipped a CD in and we sang along to Polish nursery rhymes.  Two year old Nadia’s eyes sparkled as she sang, but all of a sudden they were filled with distress and she was being sick.  Swerving off the road into a field, operation clean up began.  “She’s never done that before” Hubert ruefully observed.  “She’s normally a good traveler”.  Five minutes later, in fresh clothes, she was beaming again, and munching a bag of crisps.

At Adam’s house all was suspiciously quiet.  No sign of the two little boys who lived there, but the playroom overflowed with toys.  A lovely respite for two little girls, who didn’t stop till every shelf and cupboard was empty and there was no space to play.  Out into the garden for a quick burn off energy then, fuelled with coffee and cake, Mum and Dad round them up.  Time to say goodbye….

I had a luxurious hour to myself before the onslaught.  Toys swiftly back on shelves, a peep at TV (Rafa was playing in the French Open) and I was sitting on the balcony, waiting.  Hot and mildly harrassed, Weronika and Marta shepherded two small boys through the gate.  Bedlam!  But in such a good way.  My turn to play with Marti, 18 months old and a happy soul, and his rather more cautious brother, Bartek, aged three.  Gradually the household filled as first Adam returned from work, then Wojtek, Weronika’s husband, and finally my lovely neice, Ula.  One member was missing.   Łukasz now lives with his girlfriend and I was promoted to his bedroom.  The buzz of chatter, and patter of slippered feet on the tiled floors, filled the evening as we ate and drank.  And finally, collapsed gratefully into bed.

Fluffy clouds greeted me through the skylight next morning.  Sniadanie (breakfast), and an outing to the park, followed by wolny czas (free time).  When I returned from the city, preparations were in full swing, the house full of bustle.  Adam’s pride and joy is his barbecue room, a design wonder of wood and folding glass panels.  The end wall is solid brick to enclose the grill and a smoker.  Marta’s pride and joy is her garden and the delicious meals she provides for her family.  Between them they conjure up many a feast.

That evening there was a guest of honour.  A gentleman to whom I will always be in debt.  Tomasz, Adam’s business partner, a warm and generous man and an impeccable English speaker, made the phone call to Dad that reunited him with his Polish family. (A night I will never forget, my tearful Dad hardly daring to believe his luck).  Taste is of supreme importance to Tomasz, and is one of the foundations of the bakery business.  Fond of wine and good company, with many tales to tell, you can imagine how our evening progressed.  Adam provided salmon and garlic bread from the barbecue and smoked sea bass to compliment Marta’s salads.  Wine flowed, and then Łukasz arrived, affectionate as ever.  He had spent the afternoon sleeping after an early shift.  The children played.  Sandpit, bubbles and swing, until it was time to haul them off to bed….

Last day…ostatni dzien… and one last trip into the city.  A tram ride home, stopping to collect a deep red rose bush for Marta, and a bag of cherries.  A whirl of emotions.  Adam, watering the garden after another hot one.  Marta, pottering beside him, relaxed after feeding everybody again.  The children at a birthday party in the neighbours’ garden next door, laughter and occasional tears drifting our way.  The evening settling around us.  Time for more goodbyes… we don’t know till when.  In halting Polish on the way to the airport, I try to tell Adam how very grateful I am.  His eyes twinkle as hugs me….

You must have met Cathy over at Wander.essence?  I’m adding this to her Prose challenge.  It’s the last of my Polish adventures… for now.

83 comments

  1. Late again – apologies! Life will resume after Sunday! Like Meg, this piece brought tears to my eyes too. It is written with so much emotion: love, remembrance and a tinge of sadness that this may be the last Polish adventure. All the more wonderful that your dad was reunited with his family after so many lost years. I hope some of the younger members of the family manage to visit you in Tavira. Sounds as though they would enjoy that.

    A shame about the shadows on your faces. There, but almost not in a way…

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    1. No matter when, Jude- you’re always here. 🙂 🙂 Yes, I do think we’ll have visitors down the years in Tavira. When I get back to Poland is anybody’s guess.
      An emotional day overall. And now I need to rearrange my Saturday 🙂 I hope he can pull it off, but you never know.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mmm… yes he is struggling against Novak. First set he seemed quite ‘off’ but some marvellous tennis in the next two. I was willing him to win the third! Hope tomorrow is outside, I am not keen on the roof, changes the whole atmosphere. Do we know when they will be on court?

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  2. How wonderful that even though your dad is no longer here you’ve been made so welcome into his side of the family 🙂 It was very much the same for me the first time I went over to Ireland in October 2016 – my son’s dad and I had parted ways back in 1980 and the only contact I had with his family after that was a card and brief letter every Christmas, but when my son and I took him home for his final days I was made so welcome by his family and friends. I’ve kept up the contact, went back last December and will probably return later this year, and even though my son’s dad is no longer here I know there’ll always be a place for me to stay in the family home.

    The rabbits and the tiny kittens in the garden sound lovely by the way, if I’d been there it would have been hard to drag me away 🙂

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      1. Fortunately calming down considerably now, thanks to the hard work of all the fire crews and mountain rescue teams. The roads are still closed off, even further back than they were before but things are looking much better. There are still some obvious hot spots which are burning underneath but smoke rather than flames; the number of fire engines has been reduced to about a dozen, and last night we had a heavy downpour for about half an hour plus some lighter rain overnight so it will all have helped. I’ve been taking some more photos over the last week so will post on my blog again either this evening or tomorrow 🙂

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  3. Sounds like a wonderful Polish trip and heartfelt reunion, Jo. Lovely to hear you managed to get a lift, and had so much fun with everyone. Everyone looks like they had a good time 🙂

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      1. Knowing how to enjoy oneself is just as important as working hard 🙂 It is the weekend. Have been waiting for it the whole week. It has been good so far. Enjoy Sunday, Jo 🙂

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  4. What a lovely way to share your time with your polish family in this emotion filled post with us Jo. It is a time that will be in your thoughts forever. I’m sure you will visit again in the future you have formed such a strong and loving bond with them all. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

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    1. Hi Andrew 🙂 🙂 Feeling a little guilty about the photos of the kids. I tell myself I’m not going to include them because Weronika would probably not like it, but then I can’t resist. They are adorable.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the gap since Dad died and knowing that I might not see many of these people again made it very special, Alison. It is wonderful to know that they carry me in their hearts, as I do them. 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a wonderful adventure. I really enjoyed travelling along with you. The little Polish children look so angelic and the river scenes are so tranquil.

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    1. We had an amazing 10 years after Dad was reunited with the family, Suzanne, and I feel so privileged that I can still be a part of it. 🙂 🙂 And with kids, looks can be deceptive- not quite angels but Nadia and Marti are both lovely kids that carry joy with them.

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      1. Yes, I thought about kids after I wrote that. They can often look like angels but behave like terrorists 🙂 Discovering another family in a foreign land must have really expanded your world view.

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      2. I can imagine. That really comes across in your post. The photos of the landscape really bring home how different life in rural Poland is. One thing that struck me was the soft colours.

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  6. This is beautiful Jo. So loving and warm, and so much wonderful family time. And beautifully written. I was close to tears. I understand the way writing this would keep you close. In a way the picture of you with family under the shadows is almost a symbol of the family story. If you wouldn’t have written this without Cathy, thanks you to Cathy too.

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    1. One of Lusia’s grandsons took the photo, Meg. A bright eyed little chap of about 10. I wish I’d checked it afterwards because it would have been a lovely one. That’s Irena with the lovely smile on the end, her youngest and my long term buddy, and Grazyna. Theresa must have been busy in the kitchen. There’s a son too, but he’s a bit of a black sheep and not often there. So much I could add, and could it, should it ever be made into a book? I’ve never known if I had the ability or the desire, so obviously I don’t. Not like Cathy, who is almost driven. 🙂 🙂 You make the most insightful observations- I love the idea of the symbol. Thanks, darlin!

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  7. A fabulous adventure Jo…………..except for the child being sick in the car. Thanks for lettting me a part of your family for a short while 🙂

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  8. What a wonderful ending to your Polish trip, Jo. I love your angst about how to get from here to there, the squeeze-in, the children playing, the luxurious time to yourself, and the guest of honor, Tomasz, who played such a vital role in getting your father reunited with his Polish family. I feel your immense gratitude for him. I think they are all so happy and lucky to have you as part of their family, thanks to Tomasz and his warmth and kindness. I love seeing you in the shadow-filled picture surrounded by those you love! Lovely all around. 🙂

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    1. Thanks Cathy! I didn’t write this so easily as the first. Too many distractions. I wanted to write it to keep them close to me. You gave me the opportunity xx

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      1. I’m glad the process helps keep you close to your Polish family, Jo. I don’t often look back over my blogs, but lately, as I’m writing about various places I’ve been, like my time in Oman, Korea and other places, I’ve been looking back over old blogs and they bring back great memories. This piece will do the same for you, I’m sure. 🙂

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  9. Your Polish family are such a treasure. The kids are just so lovely and full of fun. I can’t imagine what must have felt like for your father to be re-united with his Polish family? A heartwarming story 😄

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  10. And I’ve enjoyed your holiday along with you. What a lovely family and what wonderful memories you have to bring home. Loved all the photos, but especially the dawn which looked spectacular, kids always photograph well and with their toys, well …………. Hope you have another trip there soon.

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