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Rumyana R.

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by Emiliya V.

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Name / pseudonym:  Rumyana R.
Gender: female
Date of birth: 01.09.1942
Place of birth: town of Vidin, Bulgaria
Place of residence: town of Ruse, Bulgaria
Nationality: Bulgarian

 

I was born in the family of a lawyer / my father / and a pharmacist / my mother /. I have a brother who is two years younger than me and two cousins with whom I grew up together. We were mostly taken care of by our maternal grandmother. She was an amazing woman. She was brought up in the French boarding school in Ruse, because she had lost her parents early. She was a very good person and had different skills –she could do housework, sew, embroider, prepare exquisite dishes and desserts when we had the necessary ingredients ...The school was not only our duty, but also a place for expression of knowledge and skills. The boys and I graduated with full honors from the High School in Vidin. I applied and graduated from the University of Chemical Technology in Sofia.The years of my adolescence coincided with those that were difficult for our country. But the school and my family provided me with opportunities to participate in various activities which involved different performances. I took music lessons / I learned to play the violin /, I participated in various interest groups –a drama cast, ship modeling (for the purposeof developing technical skills), sports and more. I was even part of the school basketball team for two years, despite my short stature. Each child was free to choose and participate in interest groups of their choice. The training was free. I also participated in farming brigades, which was work for the benefit of society. I got involved in the construction of the embankment to the stadium in the city, and I helped in agriculture. The work and the common experiences created those qualities, thanks to which I later managed things successfully on my life path.

 

The university was a place of training and education. Our program included one month of on-the-job training in a factory, then one month of training at the University, and so on. It was not easy, but our youth and friendships helped to overcome difficulties, to acquire specific knowledge and skills, to form habits. It was difficult to defend the title of chemical engineer, but that did not stopus from organizing outings in the countryside, excursions to nearby landmarks, to be regular visitors to the cinema, opera, theater or concert. The only limitation was the scholarship -how to distribute it in order to comply with the "Financial Framework"or in other words how to survive until the next scholarship. This is how our worldview, our intellectual development, was formed. At the University I experienced my first and only love, which ended with marriage and starting work at the Chemical Plant in Vidin.

The most significant experience was that as young specialists, my husband and I participated in the construction of the Chemical Plant and several other plants affiliated to it. Oneof theplantswas for polyamide fibers. The other factory that we worked in for more than 210 years was for pneumatic tires. We had the chance to be trained by French and Soviet experts, which helped our development as good specialists. We raised our two sons in Vidin. We had many friends and great experiences at work, in the family and the community in which we worked and lived.And since, then, for the Bulgarian, filial piety was a significant value, my husband, as the eldest son, decided to move closer to his parents who lived in the city of Ruse. He was already the director of the tire factory, and I was the head of the central factory laboratory, but we moved to Ruse. He started building a new chemical plant, and I started to run another workshop, which was about to be completed.

 

This transition brought hardship and deprivation not only to us. But we lived throughit. New colleagues, new people, but also new friends and contacts. Of course, we had to take care of my husband’s agingparents, who we later took with us to live together in Ruse.But at the same time, I left my own parents far away in Vidin. My brother was there. When our mother became seriously ill, I traveled every secondmonth to help my brother take care of my mother. The difficulties came after 1989, when the transition period began. I lost my job. Our children were already university students. Our parents needed care. Those were difficult years that I don't even want to remember, because it's a humiliation to be out of work due to the closing down of businesses or reducing production. There were many deprivations, but also expectations that everything would end, that we would survive, despite everything.

However, education, upbringing, and strength of spirit helped meto overcome the difficulties and get out of the mud. Ourchildren graduated from university, started their own families with children and are already established professionals. They remained Bulgarians, despite the difficulties, and they now live in Bulgaria. Traditions and national values are and still remain part of our family's life. And now we get together as much as possible to celebrate Christmas and Easter. But there is another meaningful holiday from our younger years known as Zagovezni (Forgiveness Day). I remember the evenings around the table withthe white halva attached to the red thread, then the egg and finally the charcoal (I never understood its symbolism), the laughter and the jokes.

 

But the main thing was atthe very beginnin gof the celebration when everybody kissed the hand of the oldest member of the family, and the otherfamily members hugged each other and said Please forgive me! and the answer was I forgive you! And so, before I knew, the day of retirement came. No, there was no drama or high expectations. I was categorized underthe worst retirement scheme in 1997, when some crazy reform was carried out, which affected both old and new retirees. It left me with meager means of subsistence. I took on extra work for a modest payand then I started doing charity work.

My cause turned out to be the children from the Home for Abandoned Children. I started taking care of two of them –I took them home, took them for a walk, we celebrated holidays together. The number of children gradually became ten and so the idea of a Family for the weekend was born. I wrote a project for the first time. I didn't even know there was a special form but I got help. We did what was nearly impossible -we found 10 families willing to receive such children. We completed the project –in an amateur way, but from the bottom of our hearts. To this day, we maintain contacts with these children, who have already grown up and who have children themselves. And years ago,one of them wrote to me on a social network: You were our mother. You were our angel. You deserve so much more than this card. Happy March 8! Ani.(N.B. The 8thMarch is celebrated as Mother’s Day in Bulgaria.)

 

Now, over the years, I come to think that whatever we have done to help our old parents was not enough. Why? Because there were times when we preferred to focus on our own family and we probably weren’t with them when they needed it, because caring for the elderly is more than just visiting or celebrating with them. Today, my children are always attentive and responsive, but they have their own lives and it is best if our lives are such that they create less problems for them. That is why, even though I am already so old / 78 /, I have a cause -protection of the rights of the elderly or, in particular, their aspiration to stand up for these rights. Life sometimes presents us with unexpected surprises and misfortunes. 4 years ago I underwent surgery, spent 4 days in intensive care, then had 6 months of chemotherapy. I did not panic and despair. I decided that no matter how much time I had left,I had to use it. While I was being treated, I kept reading. I did not cut off my contacts with people.

 

This is when the idea for the Resource Center "With care and love for the elderly",affiliated to the Bulgarian Red Cross, was born. It was evaluated and nominated in the competition for volunteer initiatives under the patronage of the President. There followed days filled with hard work and the opportunity to help the elderly, to encourage them to stand up for their rights.We organized events and looked for ways to prove that older people are not only a problem, but they are also an opportunity for society to use their knowledge, skills and strength of spirit in useful activities. This is how the ideas for the Festival of Staying Youngin Old Age and the procession titled Aging -an opportunity to be useful to others, were born and realized, two activities that are held on October 1 -International Retirement Day.

I Already Know

"It doesn't matter how many days are in your life, It's important how much life is in...For the most important things we pay with pieces of our soul!" Art Buchwald.

 

That is why, even now, as a volunteer withthe Bulgarian Red Cross, I work to the best of my ability to help other elderly people. This satisfies me because I know that I am useful with my knowledge and skills, with my contacts. I also have many friends, those from the retirement club, where we strive to fill the daily lives of more than 80 people with meaningful activities-from nature walks, conversations about health and everyday problems to interesting trips to beautiful and fascinatingplaces at home and abroad.For our life to be full, I believe that one must be part of our political system.

 

To fight the short comings of society, but also to encourage others not to be apathetic to the reality around us. This makes me an active participant in the political life of the city, the country and part of the political community, whose ideas I have been professing for 54 years. With these considerations, I only confirm that old age and retirement are not a problem, but an opportunity to live the rest of your life using your potential of knowledge and skills. But that's not enough! Every day, every opportunity should be used to learn, to look for new ideas and to stand behind causes. But even that is not enoughif you do not attract and you are not followed by other peers, who sometimes have given up their dreams cooped upinfront of the TV watching soap operas.

 

Being active does not mean that you are detached from the problems of your family. Because I live with the joy of the success of my children and especially my grandchildren. I am glad that my granddaughter is part of the team of the Mathematical High School and will defend their project in Moscow, that my grandson has been studying for two years, but has also been workingfor a prestigious company, where he has won the respectof his colleagues and that my other grandson is flying to Germany and will train under the Erasmus + program. But most of all I am proud of their independence and respect for theirfamily, and their love for Bulgaria.

 

I, a woman of 78, read and wrote in my notebook:..

The point is not to be able to give love, tenderness, warmth or just an outstretched hand.

The point is that there is someone on the other side to take it on to share!

The point is not to find an unnecessary moment or endless time. But to take the necessary time, to be short, but REAL!

The point is not to resign yourself and take something for granted.

The point is to fight! The point is not in the change, it is not in wanting to be changed.

The point is for others to accept you as you are. And to make them rediscover you again and again ...

The point is to be ... someone’s meaning of life!

 

I would like my message to young people to be:

Do more than just exist -live!

Do more than dream -act!

Do more than get -give!

Do more than think -implement!

Do more than spend -invest!

Do more than change -improve!

Do more than encourage -inspire!

Do more than just live -dedicate your life to a chosen mission and follow your star path!

 

What remains for me:

Don't be afraid to grow old, many have been denied this! Life is given to everyone, but aging -to the chosen few.