Monday, 8 June 2009

Spending time with my 'Babcia' in Poland

The last couple of days I spent with my polish grandmother and my step grandfather 75 and 85.
In the last 2 years that I haven’t seen my Babcia (“Bab-cha” the polish word for grandma) she has aged quite a bit. Her spirit is young, experiencing and appreciating her world, she's paying more attention to things like a cute dog waiting outside the store, or the beautiful flowers in the park. Mentally she is absolutely fit, she still hears and speaks fine but gets frustrated with her other increasing physical disabilities. Her hands are shaking, which makes it difficult to eat, to keep the food on the fork or be able to target your mouth. Having dentures, it’s not as simple anymore to eat anything you’d like - an unripe pear can already be a hassle to deal with.

She lost a lot of weight, her skin got incredibly thin and her back is slightly bowing to the front which makes her look smaller. Her legs are in constant pain and so are her hands because of the gout. Both of them have this huge tin box full of various medicines of which they have to take numourous pills and inhalations 3 times a day.

When she smiles though, she is super charming as she ever has been with a beautiful smile, with eyes wide awake and somewhat wicked. She also has this special humour and fierceness and determination in her will. It seems she could still change the world!

All my grandparents are still alive (except for my real polish grandfather who I hardly knew) and it is a rather new and very touching experience for me to see my grandparents come to an age where regular living becomes difficult. My previous touch points with aging have been reduced to research and writing I did for my dissertation which was also referring to intergenerational and life-long learning.

Aging is something I haven’t quite come to terms with yet. Passing the 30’s line and personal changes that come along with was pretty much as far as I have come yet. Having been here with my grandparents for a couple of days and seeing the big contrast, is such an eye opener what coming into the fourth phase of life can mean. It has certainly increased my appreciation for spending time with my family and for having a family in general.

One of the things my Babcia is wonderful at – as probably most grandmothers, is cooking wonderful food. The last days we spent a lot of time in the kitchen cooking various dishes together – this one here being Pierogis ruskies, a quiet famous polish dish.

Babcia making pierogis from mokoflip on Vimeo.

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