by Emiliya V.
Name/pseudonym: Hristina / Hrissi
Date of birth: 10.03.1949
Place of birth: village Chereshovo
Place of residence: town of Ruse
Her past life
Please describe briefly the life circumstances of your childhood.
Since my childhood I have been used to live and communicate with many children and my sister and have learned how to study, respect teachers, staff, family. I graduated from the Mathematical High School in Ruse.
I grew up in a close-knit family and the care for us was mainly from my mother, because my father worked in a cooperative farm, an agricultural cooperative, as a combine harvester. My sister and I were happy to listen when Dad explained to us how Bulgarian bread is made. In such an atmosphere you live calmly and every day you gain more knowledge about the life of working people.
Please describe the life circumstances in the period from your adolescence to your retirement. Was everything satisfactory, difficult, dynamic?
The best years of my life were when my two children were little. I liked my job in the area of production of printed circuit boards and my training in Frankfurt, Germany at DUPON.
Before retiring, I worked for 40 years with public commitments for the benefit of the people at my workplace and in the neighbourhood where I live. I spent 16 years of my working life in the Municipality of Rousse Citizens' Relations Department assisting their meetings with the mayor of Rousse. These activities related to people give me strength, ideas and skills to work now with the elderly people.
What was the situation of the elderly when you were young?
Our family has always had a close relationship with our grandparents. We have been taught from an early age to respect and help the elderly. I have always strived to show my children and grandchildren to be people of good manners, responsive and kind to the elderly, pregnant women and young children. The big role in the upbringing of children and young people should be played by the family. School and parents are responsible for the upbringing of the younger generation.
In our family, the respect and care for the elderly is highly appreciated. My parents took care of our grandparents until their last hour came. That's what happened to me and my husband. Together with our young children we took care of our parents from the time they grew old, but still healthy, until they were sick in bed and in need of round-the-clock care. We showed our children and grandchildren how to take care of the sick
and weak closest members of the family. In our family, for generations we have never sent parents and sick relatives to nursing homes but we have taken care of them ourselves! Unfortunately, my husband died at the age of 55 and I lost the best father and grandfather of my children and grandchildren too early! But human destiny it that sort of thing and we are obliged to survive even after the painful loss of our loved ones in order to enjoy the young children and grandchildren around us. Of course, I am always happy to take care of my little great-granddaughter. Great-grandchildren are the most wonderful happiness in the lives of adults who come to the privilege of having them in their lives!
Her present life
Please compare what you thought about aging when you were young, your expectations for your retirement life, and how things really are now. What does retirement mean to you?
Oh, as a young woman I thought 30-year-olds were very old, but when I was 33, I said to myself, I don't want to have birthdays anymore and I will remain at 33. But life goes on and the years pile up without asking us what we want. After my 50’s I started to look with nostalgia for the past years but I already looked with respect at the older ones. After I turned 60 years I already thought that it is not right to feel sorry for my age, but to think that I am young again, but already in the first old age! I retired at the age of 61 and in the first months after my retirement I was desperate and pathetic because I thought that life was over and 2 cubic meters of soil were waiting for me, something like old age stress. The fact that my whole life was among many people as a public figure came to my aid to overcome the stress of retirement. At that time my children worked in Greece and I went to them to help them in the household. And so, it happened that I had to go from Greece to England to work for 6 years! These years have given me the strength and self-respect for my work and my life as an elderly woman, but I am already in my second youth. After returning to Bulgaria, I started my work in the Union of Pensioners. It is nice and rewarding to intensify the social activities of pensioners in the clubs and together with people of my age.
Please briefly describe your current life circumstances.
I live together with my children and grandchildren. I work for the Union of Pensioners Ruse Region. It gives me pleasure to attend these clubs with many people of my age and to help each other so that we make our lives more enjoyable, filled of many interesting events and help the disabled pensioners. I have been the chairman of the Union of Pensioners – Ruse (UP) for two years now.
Every day is full of responsibilities in accordance with my commitments to UP. My activity in the union is already a constant commitment and I am always ready for action. We have certain days for operational work with the chairmen of the clubs and organizations. After that I am with my family again, and I have the most wonderful engagement to my great-granddaughter. When I am with her, I forget all other activities and dedicate myself to the sweetest baby Borisa! And so, it is every day!
Which media do you consume in everyday life? What new technologies do you use? Have you noticed if your generation uses them and how?
I use the national media - television and radio, as well as international media - news programs from the EU Parliament, the EU Commission, the European Union, CNN, and Danet's website. I think that a lot of older people have an interest, but they don't always have the knowledge and the skills to use the Internet, computers and phones. It is imperative to train retirees on the essentials of IT. I'm curious and I think I'm doing pretty well with new technologies, but there's always something new. And I also need to renew my knowledge and perseverance to keep up with the novelties. Тhe pensioners have neglected the attention to innovations. Is necessary to work permanently to attract them to new communication and to be ready for the moments when we have to stay home longer. Then everyone will feel as a significant and useful adult.
What motivates you or can motivate you?
Even though being a pensioner, I am motivated by the desire to have a full and active life with people of my age and to help each other in difficulties. When I feel that older people enjoy being in retirement clubs and societies and actively participate in the activity, it gives me strength and strongly motivates me to move forward as long as I am healthy!
In your opinion, what are the major roles of retired persons?
Usually when people come to a certain age, different for each country, they retire after a long service during the years of active employment and deserve a dignified life. But, even after retirement, retirees should have an active life, according to the interests of each person. The more active we are, the healthier our life will be! Let's help each other to be more active even in old age!
Having in mind representations of elderly persons in media, what would be your message for the younger generations?
In many cases, we seniors cooperate with community centres, libraries, schools and kindergartens. Together we hold many joint events to present Bulgarian historical, national and folklore customs and events. We meet many young people and together we discuss the problems of the day for Bulgaria. We give examples from our lives; we show how important it is for young people to learn to respect and appreciate the elderly. But we must also learn from our children and grandchildren how to handle all new technical and electronic tools, the Internet, computers, smart phones. This will make us more creative and worthy participants in the modern life of the 21st century. Together with friends from other EU countries let’s be worthy and useful in the development of democracy in EU and Bulgaria! Our joint activity with more young people will give us peace of mind that after us the next generations will follow the right path for the development of our country!