by Emiliya V.
Name/pseudonym: Elena Y.
Date of birth: 28.11.1950
Place of birth: village Koilovtsi Pleven region, Bulgaria
Place of residence: village Prelom Lovech region, Bulgaria
Her past life
Please describe briefly the life circumstances of your childhood.
My father was in the military and was often sent to the border or to different towns such аs Sopot, Karlovo, Pleven, where we lived until 1972. My mother was a worker in the textile factory Slavina. In 1960 my father became ill and died in 1961. I have a younger sister, born in 1956.
Please describe the life circumstances in the period from your adolescence to your retirement. Was everything satisfactory, difficult, dynamic?
Apparently, my mother found it difficult at the age of 28 to look after two children and sent us to the boarding school in the town of Nikopol. There were 168 children there (Turks, Vlachos, Roma) and only nine Bulgarians. We were never divided by race, religion, etc. and I still have a soft spot for all ethnicities. I learned all three languages there, took a sewing course there, played the fanfare, sang in the choir, was president of the school's student organization. When I finished the eighth grade, I wanted to go to a French high school, but my mother didn't have the money.
I got married, my big son was born in 1968 and 3 years later, in 1971, my little one was born. In 1972, we moved from Pleven to the town of Lovech. I started to study at the evening Vocational school of mechanical engineering and at the same time I worked. I finished secondary special education and wanted to continue higher education, Bulgarian philology or law, at the University of Veliko Tarnovo. My husband did not agree and our relationship deteriorated. We divorced in 1983.
I worked in a construction organization, for three years I was a cashier in Energy Supply, for the last 15 years until my retirement I worked in a hospital – the Psychiatry Department. The treatment of the sick shocked me at first, but then I got used to it. One has to carry the goodness in his heart to take care of such patients. Everything for these patients is at a high level - a major renovation of all buildings has been done, with new heating, new furniture, the patients receive adequate care, delicious food, there is a special diet menu for diabetics. While I was working shifts, I went to a second job in my spare time.
I got married for a second time and we had a daughter who is now married and has a child. I have four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren from my sons. All in all, I am a happy mother, wife, grandmother and great-grandmother.
3. What was the situation of the elderly when you were young?
As for our elderly parents - we care for them until their last breath. I, for example, took care of my mother for four years. She passed away at the age of 67. Then my mother-in-law had a heart attack and died at 70. Meanwhile, my father-in-law got a major back injury. My husband and me took him to hospitals for 4-5 years until he had a major haemorrhage and peritonitis and died at 74. Apart from this, there were two childless aunts who we also cared for and sent them to their final home properly.
Her present life
Please briefly describe your current life circumstances.
For ten years now, as a pensioner, my husband and I live in a village where there are few inhabitants. On the other hand, everything is clean, nice, quiet, there is no noise, no harmful emissions and dust particles. In the morning it smells of cut grass, the birds are singing. In our yard we grow everything we need - potatoes, onions, strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes and peppers, everything the Bulgarian land can bear. Everything is pure, organic, without fertilizers, additives, etc. We grow a lot of fruit - apples, pears, plums, figs, grapes, pumpkins. In the autumn we make compotes and jams from everything. We raise happy hens whose eggs are low in cholesterol. The meat is clean and tender. We also raise rabbits. Their meat is the best and comes close to chicken.
I love all animals. I have four cats and four dogs - love them! Apart from animals, I am also very fond of flowers. I have about a hundred pots of all sorts of flowers. I occupy myself, so that I don’t feel bored, because actually there is no social life here.
Right now, there is a political crisis in Bulgaria, along with the pandemic. The corona virus problem is supposedly being fixed, there are fewer sick people, the measures have been relaxed, but the danger has not passed. I am trying to encourage the elderly to get vaccinated, but they are afraid and, as they do not have many contacts here, they do not think it is necessary. I got both vaccines in March.
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 like to read all kinds of literature, search the Internet for interesting things, recipes for cooking, I am interested in politics. I love travelling - I have travelled all over Europe, except France. I worked in Italy for about a year. I have many friends from Italy, Belgium, Greece, Spain - we communicate all the time. Thanks to new technologies we see and hear each other all the time. Here in Bulgaria I have over 600 friends from different cities.
The elderly people in the village are mostly women (over 80 years old) who are not interested in new information technologies. Generally, they work in their gardens, watch a lot of TV, get newspapers. But still, it's not like in the 19th century - everybody has 2 or 3 TV sets and all kinds of appliances that help them in their daily life.
What motivates you or can motivate you?
My husband and I have small pensions but we are doing well. At 70 I haven't taken a pill, I enjoy nature, life and my children. As parents we try to help in raising our grandchildren, provide our children with a home, a car, an expensive trip, etc.
The difference between us and people abroad is great. Their pensioners travel, go on holidays, cruises, and we, Bulgarians, build houses, apartments. I read some statistics recently that 89% of the Bulgarian population own their own homes.
In your opinion, what are the major roles of retired persons?
We retirees could give advice, but in this dynamic world today, new technology and everything around us, we can only rejoice in the success of young people.
Having in mind representations of elderly persons in media, what would be your message for the younger generations?
I have to answer what is my attitude towards the young? Well, I am happy for them! More and more kids are graduating from prestigious universities, some are staying abroad, some are coming back. The old people say that a stone weighs in its place - everyone chooses for themselves. Lately, more and more young people are returning home. Maybe it's because of the pandemic, but I'm sure nostalgia has its role. In my opinion, no matter how well paid a person is, no matter how nice it is abroad, there comes a time when the roots pull him back to his birthplace.
It is a pity that our Roma do not integrate, do not want to study. They marry too young and have many children. The government is trying to do many things for them, especially in the training-learning direction.
I am happy for the success of the young! I hope the future is in their hands.