by Ana Z.
Name: Elena Ş.
Place of birth: Ciuguzel, Alba county
Place of residence: Cluj-Napoca
In which year were you born?
How would you describe your childhood?
I had a beautiful childhood, but not too easy; being the eldest, I helped raise my younger siblings. Material, I had everything I needed as a child. I grew up with my parents, in a family of 4 brothers. I attended the general school in my native village, and then the Chemistry High School in the town of Ocna Mures.
Tell us about your period from adolescence to retirement
From the age of 14 I worked as a vocal soloist-folk music at the House of Culture of Ocna Mures, where I also attended the high school. At the end of high school I came to Cluj Napoca and I worked as a chemical operator at “Terapia”. I performed for the Terapia ensemble and for the "February 16" ensemble. I got married at the age of 19 and I was blessed with two little girls who were my mental support to be able to move on, my marriage being a disaster. I gave up my artistic activity to be well in the family, but at the age of 27, I was left alone with two small children. After the divorce I went with the girls in many resorts in the country on holidays both at sea and in the mountains.
At the age of 33 I remarried a wonderful man, but after only 3 years, from a broken brain aneurysm, he was left with a very serious condition, spastic tetraplegia and many complications, depending entirely on others around him. I have been taking care of him for 33 and a half years. After the revolution I spent wonderful vacations, alone or with girls in Spain, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Hungary. If the society in which I live disappointed me sometimes, I went further and anchored myself in what was good for me. I love children, animals, nature with all its wonders. I love people too, but with caution. Three and a half years ago I retired, and, besides the care of my husband, I resumed my artistic activity. There were many events in my life and beautiful and difficult, but I managed….
What was the position of elderly persons when you were young?
For me, the older people in my youth were the ones I had to learn from. At the beginning of the road, I made my own decisions and I made a lot of mistakes, giving up my artistic career, higher education, because I listened to the one who was my husband and father to the girls; I didn't listen to my parents and I paid my way. The husband from the second marriage supported me, but he got ill; then, after the girls grew up, I consulted with them, including now. We have a very beautiful, very special relationship, I can say. I get along well with the people around me. I get very involved when I can do something for those around me.
Retirement for me was a fantastic thing, being able to do many things for myself and those around me because now I have time.
Please describe intergenerational liaisons in your family
I get along well with my family, but we are far from each other; when we meet at our parents` home, we are very happy. My parents took care of my girls on vacation, but otherwise, I managed alone. My girls went to their own houses. I have never lived with my parents and they still manage on their own, but if necessary, I would take care of them. I took care of them when they were sick in the hospital.
Please compare what were you thinking about old age when you were young, your expectation of your life in retirement, and how it is really now. What does retirement mean for you?
When I was a child, the older people, for me, were cute, helpless beings who needed protection. It was as if all the wisdom of the world was on the shoulders of the elders. Personally, I see retirement as a well-deserved reward, after 38 years of relentless work. I am very happy that I have come to live the retirement years, to have free time for myself, to do what I like and when I feel like it. My grandchildren are in the town of Arad, but during the summer holidays they come to Cluj and then, all the forests and everything that is beautiful are ours. I would have loved to have them by my side all the time. I never feel alone, I have friends with whom I feel good, and when I want to leave home for more time I have a friend who stays with my husband and takes care of him and I make up for it financially. When I leave home for several days, my mother-in-law comes and takes care of my husband.
Please briefly describe living circumstances in your current life
I live with my husband, only he is indiscriminate, I being his guardian, established by law. I live at my home. I don't have a very large pension, but enough to live decently. I'm not very healthy, but my health problems can be kept under control.
In terms of communication, I am a very sociable person, and I keep in touch with everyone, children, friends, family, from the country and abroad.
Please describe your daily routines in present
I take care of my husband, I do gymnastics every day for my health, I listen to music, I watch movies on my laptop, I sing, I socialize by phone more given the current situation, with family, friends, colleagues, I did not miss the great concerts that were in Cluj, I like to go to the theater, and I really like to walk in nature, the forest being preferred.
Which media you consume in everyday life (TV, radio, newspapers); what new technologies do you use (Internet, computers, smart-phones)?
I use the internet as much as I need to get information about what I need, I use the zoom application, I watch TV less often, I listen to the radio.
What motivates you or can motivate you?
I keep in touch with children and family permanently, with friends, with everyone I know. I always take care to do physical activity for my health, and I share my knowledge if required. I don't impose myself.
What would be your message for the younger generations?
I respect the young generation and I would like them to ask the advice of the old people when they get stuck. They have nothing to lose, just to gain. As for me, I am constantly looking for ways to be informed about everything that can improve my retirement life.
Questions specifically for Romania:
Which traditional customs do you still keep in your family?
The religious holidays are holy, food, folklore, folk costume.
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?
What are the values that guided you throughout life and that you want to transfer to the next generations?
I tried to be an honest person even though I often had to lose and suffer. Important values are punctuality and the love for those around you.