by Damla A. and Yoana K.
Date of birth: 1950
Place of birth: village of Golyamo Vranovo, Slivo Pole Municipality
Place of residence: town of Ruse
Tell us your name please.
When and where were you born?
I was born in 1950 in the village of Golyama Vranovo, near the town of Ruse. I have been living in Ruse since I was 15 years old.
Can you briefly describe how your childhood went?
Until the age of 12, I lived with my grandparents and my whole family. I have a brother. We are two children. My parents are villagers, farmers. I was taught to work hard and be disciplined from an early age.
I cannot complain. I had a good childhood – I enjoyed freedom, I could play as much as I wanted to, and these are things that today's children do not have.
What was the socio-economic situation of your family?
At first it was not very rosy, but gradually my parents’ situation began to stabilise. I can say that my family was neither poor nor rich.
Can you say a few words about the period from your adolescence to your retirement?
After finishing eighth grade in the village of G. Vranovo, I started studying at the Technical School of Industrial Chemistry, which was an elite school. Admission was very difficult and therefore only excellent students studied there. I was happy to have very good teachers. After I graduated, since my parents did not have the financial means to support my studies in the city of Sofia or elsewhere, I immediately started work following the official distribution. Then I decided and applied on my own, without preparing, to further my studies at the University of Varna, majoring in International Tourism. I was admitted to the university, graduated successfully and I have not regretted it ever since. To this day, my university degree provides me with job opportunities and enables me to make a living.
Do you have a husband, children?
Yes, I got married when I graduated. I have two children, two beautiful girls. They have their own families. I have grandchildren, too. I am satisfied with my children and I am happy with them!
Was this period you just talked about satisfactory for you or was it more on the difficult side?
Every beginning is difficult. Especially when you start a family, the beginning is difficult. It requires efforts on both sides and more so from the woman.
What was the situation of the elderly when you were young?
My generation has been taught to respect the elderly - to greet them, to give them a seat on the bus, and if they need help, to help. I remember that when I lived in the village and was in the seventh or eighth grade, we had organized a team and helped the elderly people in the village.
That's very nice! And how were the more important decisions made, for example, choosing an education, a profession?
I made them myself.
It wasn't dictated by your family?
No, no, my family did not interfere in this at all.
It is very nice! Can you now describe the intergenerational relationships in your family?
The connections exist. I have an elderly mother who lives in the village and I visit her regularly. I help her as much as I can. My children are also interested in how I am doing. When I need help, I turn to them. I have very good contact with my grandchildren. Even this morning, my daughter told her son that he talked more to me than to her.
It is very nice! When you were young, how did you imagine retirement, what would you look like, how would you feel as an elderly person?
I never imagined I would be retired one day. While you are young, it always seems to you that you will stay young forever. Many say, “ I will not retire.” However, irrespective of your denial, you get there one day! And when people retire, at first they feel excluded from society. They have to find their place. And, most importantly, they should be active. If they stay locked up at home and start thinking that they are old, that everything is over, then life really ends very quickly. I think a lot of the elderly feel that way.
Tell us briefly how you live now. Do you live with your grandchildren or your daughters?
I live alone. Yes, my children visit me. Most importantly, my grandchildren also visit me. Until three or four years ago, my first grandson lived with me and when he finished his education, he left. Now I have another grandson and I am waiting for him to call me today to tell me if he will come to visit me and when. I can't complain about life. I often come to the Day Club for the elderly. I find friends here. I participate in the vocal group.
Great! Can you describe your daily life?
I do my housework in the morning. I come to the club if we have an event. After lunch I take some rest. I love to read and read a lot. Lately, I watch less TV because it floods us with negative information and it affects one’s psyche. I live in a house with a garden and I spend some of my time gardening.
What media do you use in your daily life?
I watch TV - only channel 1 (Bulgarian National TV). I watch some interesting movies and I listen to a lot of music.
What new technologies do you use, such as the Internet, computers, smartphones?
I use everything you listed.
Great! Have you noticed whether your friends or acquaintances your age use these technologies like you?
I am surrounded only by such friends.
What motivates you, or what can motivate you to move forward and to feel good?
What motivates me is the fact that in the summer I work on the Black Sea coast as a tour operator. There, I work with young people like you who maintain my tone, so to speak. And I don't think about the future. When I wake up in the morning and see the sky, I say "Thank you, God, that I am in this world!"
What, in your opinion, is the main role of retirees at the moment?
Retirees now need to pay more attention to the upbringing of their grandchildren, because their parents are busy and, in fact, the children are left without the necessary attention.
Do you think that retirees can pass on traditions and historical knowledge to their grandchildren?
Yes, of course they can. Yes! And they have to do it because there are a lot of distorted things that are being taught at schools at the moment.
If you were to turn to today’s young people, what advice would you give them?
First, they should find something to believe in.
Second, they should leave their smartphones aside for a while and take their books, because books create a wealth of speech, and, unfortunately, nowadays very few people have a rich vocabulary.