Name: Elena A.
Place of birth: Tătărăşti de sus, Teleorman county
Place of residence: Bucharest
When were you born?
I was born on a bright day in May (22 05 1948), under the sky of southern Romania, in the locality of Tătărăşti de sus, Jud Teleorman.
How would you describe your childhood?
I spent my childhood in the middle of nature, enjoying all the seasons, discovering one by one the wonders of creation in the courtyard and the garden of the parental home, along with the two older brothers.
In the year of my birth, the church in the village was under renovation, so I received my Christian baptism under the clear sky, in the baptismal font brought from the church, home, in the yard. My parents, grandparents (maternal and paternal) and brothers surrounded me with love. I didn't know my grandparents. My paternal grandfather died young in World War I and my father was born in 1914 and was orphaned by his father. He studied well and went to a military school. My maternal grandfather died in 1945. He was wounded in World War II, had his right hand amputated and developed diabetes.
My mother was single with her parents, and my father had a military career and had to marry a dowry girl, so the family's economic situation was good, until the father - Vasile - was removed from the army in 1947 - for political orientation - and would hold various positions (as a temporary employee at several state-owned enterprises) until retirement.
My father educated his children in a spirit of respect for the values of the past and justice. He was a good narrator of both folk tales and true lived events, and he delighted his audience with songs, accompanied by guitar or pipe.
On the holy winter holidays he wore Santa's clothes to the delight of the children, who were convinced of his existence, then for his grandchildren, and on New Year's Day, when it was his name day, (St. Basil) we always received carolers with the “Plugusorul” and “Vasilcuța”. My mother and grandmother used to prepare rolls for carolers and when they came to us I joined the crowd, so I lived the joy specific to those moments.
My mother-Ilinca was a housewife, a happy fact for us, the children, who always had my mother by our side. Dreamy and religious, a lover of interior and exterior cleanliness, she gave all her energy and provided the warmth of the home for the rest of her life. The Bible, from which she gathered the wisdom of life - was not missing from the nightstand.
I lived in the same yard with my maternal grandmother (she had a separate house), a woman with the initiative to manage the land. In the yard there were poultry (chickens, turkeys, geese) and animals (cow, calf, sheep, lambs, horses and oxen). It was a delight for me to play with the lambs or to sit among the chicks when they ate. She had arable land: land planted with vines, another for the garden in the vicinity of the running water (Teleorman) meadow on a slope (hillside) and forest. Grandma had beehive, she was involved in beekeeping, so as a child, although there were great shortcomings after the war, I had milk and honey literally. Grandmother lived 94 years (1901-1995) independently and had the joy of partially taking over back the properties.
Tell us about your period from adolescence to retirement
At the age of 14, I left my hometown. Between 1962-1966 I attended Secondary School No. 2 (today Zinca Golescu College) in Pitesti. Both in high school and in college I had a scholarship, but I always had the support of my parents. Between 1966-1972, I attended the Faculty of Medicine in Timisoara.
I married a colleague and got jobs together as family doctors in Dolj County. The years of specialization at the Fundeni Clinical Hospital followed, then the work in the hospital. Due to the nature of the profession, I did not live with my parents or in-laws, whom I visited alternately. In the summer, I sent the children on vacation to the countryside to stay with their grandparents and great-grandmother, the joy being on both sides.
We always brought gifts - especially food in the time of rationalization - to our parents and grandparents, who were waiting for us and we also took care of their health. My father passed away at the age of 82 and was buried in the locality with the military marching band, leaving this world in the style in which he liked to live: dignified. My mother lived ninety years. They were cared for by one of the brothers who inherited the household.
During the earthquake of March 4, 1977, I was with my husband and two young children at the time, in the rural town of Dranic, Dolj County, where we were assigned after graduation. I lived in the Dispensary, a service house that had the medical offices on the ground floor and the doctor's house upstairs. The moment was of great emotional intensity. At the first shocks we managed to get out in the yard. The total duration was 90 seconds, but the psychological time spoke for itself, it seemed to never end. I saw the ground swaying, the birds of the neighbors squawking, the cattle screaming. There was material damage, many houses had large cracks. A few household annexes actually fell, but without human casualties. There have been cases of panic attacks.
Please compare your opinion about old age when you were young, your expectations about life in retirement, and how it is now:
When I was little - probably also from contact with grandmothers who were active until almost death (working in the household, crocheting, sewing) - I did not see old age as a state of helplessness but rather a natural path "according to God's will" as they said ..
Please describe the life you are living now:
I live alone now. I divorced for reasons that are difficult to understand and explain. I have two sons, doctors, who have been and are close to me. Born in the countryside where I grew up, I was left with the nostalgia of a house, so I built a two-story house with my youngest son, who has been in the West for three years with his family. In the house, everyone has their own space. The first 7-8 years, when their little girl was little, before leaving (I was working) I had a play schedule in the evening, during the day I was taken to kindergarten. I was frustrated when they left, but I still have a granddaughter from the other son I see every week and we spend a few hours together. Given the changes favored by technological progress, grandparents no longer have the role they once did. Children are attracted to electronic games and not to stories like before. Instead, we visited the Zoo and the Farm to see, touch and feed the animals. On this occasion I talked about every animal or bird seen there, I told them from my childhood. The granddaughters are interested in traditions, customs and are always looking forward to the holidays. Common holiday meals are kept, especially Christmas and Easter..
For now, even though I'm 73, I don't feel old or marginalized. I get involved in cultural programs, so even though I retired I have a lot to do, including working in an amateur theater troupe. Retirement means satisfying my old desires: to travel and complete cultural projects. With the pension, if I didn't have other sources, it wouldn't have ensured a decent living. I'm healthy and I don't spend much on medications. I value exercise and rest, healthy sleep.
I socialize with friends through emails, the smart phone. I watch documentaries and films about the fascinating life of creatures in nature, in various environments (oceans, savannas, forests), etc.
I read some books that help me evolve spiritually. I don't read newspapers, I find the information of the day on the internet or on TV news bulletins.
Man is a social being. Without human contact, life would be an ordeal, so the motivation to keep in touch with family and friends is fundamental for the joy of the soul, for mental health in the first place, otherwise you get depressed, you feel useless, abandoned.
Given that I worked until I was 70, it is outrageous to hear in the media: "a 55-year-old woman ..." or now in a pandemic: "All those over 65 ...... Therefore, the message for the younger generations would be not to think of themselves as "young wolves" and to have respect for the elderly. First of all, learn the correct classification of the WHO into categories - by age, which we should also accept, because every age has its charm.
Specific questions for Romania:
Which traditional customs do you still keep in your family?
In the family, among the traditional Romanian customs we keep meals with specific (traditional) dishes at the great Christian Holidays: Christmas (associated with carols when children come to town with the carol), New Year (when we receive children with the “Plugusorul”), Annunciation (when eating fish ), the Feast of the Resurrection, the Orthodox Easter, Pentecost, St. Elijah (July 20) and all the Saints whose names we bear, according to the Orthodox calendar, in our case: St. John (January 7) ) St. Constantine and Helen (May 21) St. Mary (August 15 and September 8) St. Michael and Gabriel (November 8).
Did you go through a painful experience caused by the communist regime (persecution, deportation, nationalization, etc.)? How did you manage to overcome that difficult time?
We have witnessed in a silent or carefully spoken, censored revolt, together with the family and the whole community, all the injustices, social phenomena and turmoil. The revolts of 1958 against collectivization also covered our area. There was a lot of suffering for mature people, there were arrests, fear (I was 10 years old then). A Law of Silence was required. My parents always warned me not to say at school what I heard talking in the house. Unlike the two older brothers who were not admitted to schools, I was lucky and was able to enroll in high school in 1962, because collectivization was over and the fact that the family owned land was no longer an impediment. Then there were other difficult years for them, the rationalization of food under the Ceausescu regime followed and the grandmothers suffered that they could no longer mention the dead on religious holidays as they used to when they owned the land.
I was not a member of the Romanian Communist Party.
What are the values that guided you throughout life and that you want to transfer to the next generations?
The values I was guided by are those inherited from my parents and grandparents: morality, a sense of justice and responsible work.