Name: Trayanka F.
Place of birth: Sofia, Bulgaria
Place of residence: Sofia, Bulgaria
In which year wеre you born?
Born in 1932 in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Briefly describe living circumstances in your childhood:
Trayanka was born at home; she had two brothers and two sisters. She remembers her childhood with her mother’s fairy tales, she used to tell them around the stove and the children and grandchildren huddled around her. Those poor years, when her mother was working at several places and her father was a military officer. There were always too many people but it was fun with lots of children around. Her interest to the music, introduced the miracle of ballet to her and she attended for a few years the ballet school of Anastas Petrov (*Dancer, choreographer and a founder of the Bulgarian ballet). She still keeps her ballet shoes and surprises the children with her stories about her ballet experience. The age difference between her and her nieces and nephews was 10 years so their relations were rather than between brothers and sisters. She helped in the upbringing of her younger sister but also to her brothers and sisters’ children.
Briefly describe living circumstances from your teenage years up to your retirement:
She finished her school education in 1951 at the Professional gymnasium in Sofia with specialty “Women’s and Children’s Clothing”. Though her wish was to apply in the High Institute for Physical Training and Sport, the doctors did not allow her stating that she had some heart issues. In their family the decisions were made jointly with respect for the ‘children’s’ opinion but realistic about the relevant time, situation and opportunities. For example, when an opportunity came out to enter a course for a draftsman-cartographer and to start work at the Military Geographical Service at the Bulgarian Army Headquarters, she left her family and spent two years in another town while in training. Those were some of the best years in her life – she met new people, leant new things and acquired skills she has been applying all her life. She became independent and gained confidence, also she had time to do sports, to go mountain hiking with group of colleagues and establish lifelong friendships. In the end of 1953 the training was over and she started you employment. Her work has ever been highly valued and some of the maps she drafted are displayed at museums as fine examples. She met her husband at her workplace; their relationship was complicated due to the peculiarities of his mother's character. As the saying goes, love prevails and they got married living nearby his parents, because hers had already passed away. They have a daughter. In the summer they regularly went on vacation for 2 weeks at the Bulgarian seaside in the bases of the enterprise where her husband worked. In their daughter upbringing she got help not only from her relatives but also from students who lived in rented flats in their building. She has always been able to predispose, especially the young people, and they responded accordingly. She retired at the Laboratory of Geotechnics on Weak Earth Bases and Terrains at the Bulgarian Academy of Science. Then, her next carrier started – to take care of the grandchildren of her relatives who are in kindergarten or start school. The circle of friends and relations she established in those late years she is maintaining still.
Please, describe intergenerational liaisons in your family:
The family was very close, even in their later years they always helped each other with what they possibly could – support and taking care of children and grandchildren. Together with her mother she took care of her father who died of lung cancer at home and this first death in her life impacted her greatly. Her mother passed away in a hospital and she cared about her till her last days. In the upbringing and care of her daughter, her both sisters were helping as their future flat was in a process of construction at the same time. Her husband’s family did not help in the childcare, as they were still working but they managed to ensure flat and a country house for the family. His parents have not been ill for long but were visited daily by them till their very end.
Please, briefly describe living circumstances in your current life:
“Many of the things I have thought that I would do when I retire had happened. However, I have never thought that I will not be able to walk and to travel due to decreasing health!”
Her husband passed away 12 years ago and she is living with her daughter though most of the year she is at the family house near Sofia. She feels best when outside at the terrace, sharing coffee, aperitif or summer cocktail and most of all “sweet” conversations with neighbors, friends and relatives. Makes attempts every day to go on short walks but her legs hurt and let her down. She is happy to have neighbors she can rely on when needed and vice versa. Her pension is not enough for 38 years in employment, but getting a percentage of her husband’s pension helps to cover expenses for food and medicines.
The meetings with former colleagues from the several places where she had worked are less and less frequent due to their advanced age and the passing away of many of them.
Her favorite activity is solving crossword puzzles and reading the weekly newspapers, especially the recipe and travel sections. She loves to read books because they “walk her in other ages, cultures and she can see the world with different eyes”. She enjoyed reading “The Hunger Games” series, but said she was a little disappointed by the films. One of her favorite books is “The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared”. She admits that if her legs didn't hurt so much, she would go do the same and go around the world. She is very pleased that for the last years in Bulgaria a lot of contemporary foreign literature is translated and printed. She loves to listen to music, her favorite singers are: Ray Charles, Rod Steward and Joe Cocker.
Which media you consume in everyday life?
There are sitcoms on TV she is following with interest and they are a topic of conversations and discussions with friends. Especially, she is interested in the specifics of the respective culture the foreign sitcoms reveal – food, relations within the family and various traditions, celebration of holidays that are different from the Bulgarian. Television is the main media she uses as well as listening to the radio. The culinary channels and programs inspire her to try out new recipes. She has fun playing on the computer and gets really angry when she loses! She remembers their great joy to get her first cell phone and her willingness to use it. In the first few days, they were calling each other with her husband from different rooms in their flat just to learn how to use it. Now, most of her friends and relatives have only cell phones, abolishing the analog ones and some use different applications as Viber and WhatsApp. She has noticed that many elderly people use the record functions and send voice messages. Firstly, it is difficult for them to write, secondly – when they get a message it is hard to read it, always being afraid that they can damage the phone or turn it off. She is pleased that the new technologies bring her the voices and faces of friends and relatives who are not in Bulgaria any more. “It is strange to see them on the screen, not beside me but it is so great to be able to talk to them, to laugh and to show each other some new developments.”
What motivates you or can motivate you?
„Curiosity is the most important thing in life! One should always be curious, willing to learn and see more in this life. I am regretful, that I didn't learn a foreign language - it's a great treasure, as my mother-in-law used to say, even knowing gypsy language is something!” Maintaining the relations between relatives is crucial but things change significantly as the years go by. “We have always been close and supportive of each other, I know that if I need something I can dial my nieces and they will come immediately.” The friends’ circle of vital - you can share everything with them, especially your old age issues and pains and you know that you will be understood, but we prefer to share positive and new things that we have heard or read about. Also, it is essential to assess which information is true and which is misleading. Unfortunately, with age a lot of filters in communication and perception drop and for the elderly becomes challenging to decide what, how much and with whom to share. That is why a lot of elderly people have been deceived and lied to by swindlers who want to take their money, property or gain their trust. “I am happy that I have managed to transfer the willingness to live to everyone I communicate with and I hope they will remember me with my sense of humor and a smile. There is always something waiting to be learnt, to be tried and to be seen.”
What are the major roles of retired persons?
Everyone has something to give, transfer or leave behind. However, a few are those who know how to do it, so that it does not seem too mentoring and controlling to the younger people. If it is authentic and true, they accept it instinctively, especially the children are very susceptive if you approach them with humor, an interesting story and involve them into it. “I like very much to spend time with children, to tell stories to each other, to cook together, to laugh and they can teach me new things.” The ability to listen and share the live lessons is something that is lacking today within the families. The elderly people often accuse the younger generations of neglecting them and behaving disrespectfully because they remember how it used to be. Now, the times are different and we need to adapt and understand that stress is much greater, both at work and in relationships between people. “Nowadays, the possibilities are endless and it is not easy to make a choice, what older people can do is to slowly guide, motivate and encourage younger people to make their own best decision”. The pain of several elderly people she communicates with is that they could not be of benefit to their ‘children’, they consider themselves as a burden and that additionally complicates their relations.
What is your message for the younger generations?
The message for the younger generations: “Learn foreign languages, dance, try out different sports and hobbies, travel, enjoy life, be yourself, love and let be loved! In order to generate memories and to laugh over them when you get older, not to be sorry that you have not tried or did something.”