Hotel Wierzrynek

C is for Cousins

Cousin  =  kuzyn in Polish or kuzynka if you’re talking about a lady.

To complicate it a little more:

First cousin is brat cioteczny, or the female equivalent siostra cioteczna (brother or sister’s cousin).

It’s a very literal language and I love it, but it does get complicated.  Please don’t ask me any questions or I’ll have to confer with my Polish teacher!

Cousins are hugely significant to me.  I have a couple of English ones but they have been far outnumbered by my Polish family (apologies called for?).  Almost my first correspondence from Adam, son of much loved late Aunt Anna, in Kraków, informed me that I had “26 cousins, in the front line”.  That is before you start to count partners and children.  Overnight!  You could say that I was surprised.

I need to get past the sad part before I can throw myself into “cousins”.  Not ALL of them- you really don’t have THAT much time!

First I must pay tribute to Małgorzata, who I knew as Goscia.  Still in her 40s, soon after our family reunion she was diagnosed with leukaemia and within months was dead.  She was a hub in Adam’s bakery business, and a lovely vibrant woman.  I wish I’d had time to get to know her better.

Weronika,Goscia and Ula in Hotel Wierzrynek

Also I must mention Dominik.  The family are still recovering from his death in tragic circumstances.  Also in his 40s, I have lovely memories of dancing with him at the weddings.

Dominik with Dad in happier times

I have so much to be grateful for.  Not the least of these is…


Meeting the family with Adam

My first cousin and first point of contact in the family.  He is a very special man.  Deeply religious and active in their parish church, he describes himself as “all accepting”.  What a wonderful way to be, and I wish I could be more like him.

He and his family could not have been more helpful and loving if they had tried.  Adam does not speak English, though he understands a lot more of it than I do Polish, but from the outset he was reaching out to us.  He used the help of the translator on the PC and his son, Łukasz, to introduce them to us and then to organise a full itinerary so that Dad and me could visit and “meet the family”.  No detail was left out.  From our emotional arrival at the airport onwards, he escorted and transported us everywhere.

Initially we stayed with Adam and his wife Marta in their lovely 3 storey Kraków home.  Adam had extended the property so that his mum could live with them after she was widowed.  Goscia lived there too, with Adam’s children Weronika, Łukasz and Ula.

What a time we had, strolling in Kraków’s medieval square, Rynek Głowny, Aunt Anna’s arm tucked alternately into mine or Dad’s.  It was Easter week and there were flowers, corn dollies and special Easter bread rings on the stalls, in the pale wintery sunshine.  We had coffee and cake at celebrated Hotel Wierzrynek- so special, Yehudi Menuhin, George Bush, Lech Wałęnsa  and Polish royalty are among those who have dined there.  For one day only I had celebrity status.

Adam and Marta in Hotel Wierzrynek

More was to come.  Adam drove us the three and a half hour journey north to Belchatow, to the old farm house where Dad was born.  Unbeknownst to us he had arranged for ALL of the cousins to be there waiting for us.  He honked the horn as he drove in through the gates, and in seconds we were surrounded by smiling faces.  Each wore a button badge to identify them to us.  Of course, Uncle Jakub and Aunt Lusia needed no introduction.

So here we are in tears again, but tears of joy this time.

Just one more little anecdote.  Not long after we had met, my husband Michael and me were holidaying in Tavira with son James.  Adam had not met Michael or James as they didn’t make the initial trip to Poland, so he undertook to drive all the way from Poland to the Algarve to  meet us.  He had only a few days available away from the business and the drive took him 2 days in each direction.  He, Marta, Łukasz and Ula stayed in nearby Cabanas and spent their days very happily at the beach.  There was some Portuguese dancing in the square one evening and his toes were tapping, itching to join in.  That’s the kind of man he is.  Caring, full of life.

Adam and family in the Chinese restaurant, Tavira

We have been on numerous visits to Poland now, Dad sometimes even travelling alone, but one thing we can always rely on is that Adam will be there to organise and take care of us.  Full credit to Marta too- they have a wonderful marriage and we were privileged to spend their Silver Wedding celebrations with them in the Tatry Mountains.

Luckily there are lots more letters in the alphabet.  I shall need most of them to finish introducing the Polish family.  But this A-Z challenge isn’t just about me.  There are lots of fascinating stories and lifestyles being introduced on Julie Dawn Fox’s My personal A-Z challenge.  Visit the hub site or try out some of these.

That last one’s a cheat- it’s me with my “Portuguese head on”, for those who don’t know me.  See you soon.