A Versatile Woman
She is like 12 months of the calendar: warm, joyful as well as mature and cautious. She performs in Meetings with Cristine on WHY STORY TV, she also acts as a vice president of the Senior Association in Gliwice, she is also an activist in the District Council. Besides, she helps children from the local orphanage and she takes part in film castings. Her picture appeared in the calendar published by the Communications Municipal Association of Upper Silesian Industrial District. Recently she got interested in long range travels. She has just come back from Dubai.
Meeting at the railway station
When I first meet Mrs Christine in the coffee bar at the Railway Station in Warsaw I feel, from the very first moment, it is an extraordinary woman. She comes vigorously to my table and asks softly pointing at the empty chair:
– Is that chair free? May I join you?
I am just sorting visiting cards from the conference I attended and I am taking use of the free while entering more important numbers into my mobile telephone. However, I am impressed by the vigorous and cheerful woman, so I stop classifying visit cards and put them into my bag.
– Are you waiting for a train?– I asked.
– Yes, it is leaving in half an hour. You know, I was taking my granddaughter to the air port – she says leaning forward to me and lowering her voice adding: She went to Dubai with her husband. I don’t know why, she had a great job and a beautiful apartment in Warsaw. The elderly lady wipes a tear in her eye: Young people rush so much on business nowadays – she sighs.
During our conversation I have learnt that Mrs Christine had 80 th birthday a few months ago. She also admits that only then she decides it is the time to get subscribed to the Seniors’ Club. Soon she is elected the vice president and immediately she forbids the members to talk about illnesses. – Well, we meet here to have a good time together– she sums up promptly.
We agree to chat some more on the train as it appears we are travelling to the same destination, but when I come to the Christine’s compartment she sleeps soundly, tired after a day full of fatigue.
Meeting after film casting.
This time we make appointment In the Italian restaurant in Zabrze. Christine comes just back from… film casting, which takes place in a nearby actors’ studio, just nearby the theatre. She is dressed in a very feminine way, a black and red striped dress suits her very well.
We order pancakes with spinach and we talk about other restaurants.
– There is an excellent restaurant in Gliwice, where I have eaten only once or twice, but I know it, I go there for these shows when they call me up and I have free time, so I go for these shows, for instance cookin ones – she starts her widow’s story, that has its bright moments, too. – I am leaving soon to attend artistic workshops for people who are over 60 , people like me- she jokes. We are going to develop our literary and photographic passions and I like doing photos very much – she shows her photos in her telephone memory.
She informs this holiday is financed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and organized with the participation of the Association of Childrens’ Friends. She adds that beside seniors also children from orphanages go there.
– These workshops teach pensioners to stay active and engage in helping others, but it will be also nice to spend time together with kids, such a symbiosis – she sums up with a smile on her mild wrinkled face.
– When I fancy a place, I immediately take a picture of it – she comes back to the theme of photography. – I got, as a gift, an old digital camera with memory allowing to store only 100 photos, so I need to change memory plates quite often. During one journey to Warsaw I have done 500 or 600 pictures, for instance, in the zoo, in shops, or simply in the street.
– Have you participated in any film casting today? – I asked with curiosity.
– Yes, it was a soap-opera, probably about a hotel, but I don’t remember its title. There were old, young, thin, and fat people, so I took part in it, as well- she said, still excited with this experience. I introduced myself, said where I lived and added that my family was popular in media and even that I was a great-grandmother. They were laughing, but they let me understand they might be interested to take me in.
Two years earlier Christine wins casting organised by TV Katowice, which makes a reportage about inhabitants of Silesia using public transport within Transport Municipal Association of Upper Silesia Conurbation.
She also gets, in reward, a free ticket for public transport valid in the entire region of Upper Silesia. Her picture, where she poses in three quarters long jeans, is published in the calendar. She looks there sixty years old and in shape.
Christine has been a widow for a few years, mother of two daughters, grandmother of 30 year- old woman and 23 y.o. man and greatgrandmother of 3 year – old girl. She states that her family has strong links to mass media as one of her daughters works in Town Council, her granddaughter is a journalist who was working for one of the most known TV stations, her grandson was an actor and played in films and theatre plays, now he studies film directing and he designs computer games.
– I was born in old Sosnowiec and for 20 years I lived at the main road 22 July in Piast Settlement, nearby the greenhouse – she recalls. I moved to Gliwice at the age of 22 together with my husband when he got a job in a railway company. She meets him when she was 17 y.o., in 1952.
– It was not the time when fiancés were having sex at rendez- vous. We were dancing together in the Song and Dance Ensemble “Zagłębie”, we were also making trips. Wow, it was lovely life, but so much has changed – she whispers with nostalgy. – When I metion how distant and beautiful was that period, then daughters or granddaughter says: mum, what are you recalling, it was such a long time ago!
Four years after a meeting they get married. Initially, Christine works in the accouning of the railway. She likes that job as in school she was good at mathematics. Even now, at age of 80 she enjoys calculations, for instance when she travels she likes counting number of windows on the bus, trees in the street or she trains her memory trying to remember numbers of car licence plates.
When she gives birth to her children in the fifties, her husband asks her to quit the job and raise their daughters. First she takes care of her off-springs, later her grandson- with vocal and acting talents. He moves into their house and attends high school and later performs in the music theatre in Gliwice. Mrs Krystyna cares of him like of a son, she cooks for him his favourite dishes and talks with him for hours.
Then the boy leaves to study in Warsaw. Also her husband leaves, he dies after 60 years of their marriage. Christine feels the time to make significant changes in her life has come.
After the time of mourning she starts to participate in different castings as well as in frequent breakfasts at allotments with other seniors. She also travels With the group of seniors.
– Recently, we were in Wrocław, we visited Japanese gardens, the zoo and market place. – she dscribes the trip vividly. – Now we are planning to go to Opole, we organise St. Andrew celebrations, New Years’ eve party.
Soon after the joining editorial staff in WHY STORY she invites all her new colleagues for a grill party to her 300 meters allotment, where she has a small, but functional bower. She invites her new collegues and their children. She also jokes: – If you do not have children, it doesn’t matter, there is a double coach in my bower…
At this garden party, she asks everyone to call her by name – if they don’t consider her too old for such informality. She laughs pleased of the fact so many people visited her.
She is not the oldest one in the group of journalissts in WHY STORY, as Mr rnest Pluta is 85 years old and he still runs his travel agency.
– I like tourists very much – Christine comments with enthusiasm. – Besides, we don’t need to get married as we have got already the same surname!
She also stands for the board of Kopernik settlement, where she has lived for 35 years. She is a healthy, fit woman and she has got plenty of free time, so she wants to take care of what matters in her region. She declares to get involved in helping children from the nearby orphanage and she spends time together with them talking together and going for excursions.
– I advice young people to respect and to be tollerant towards old people. Youth is beautiful, young people as well. It has always been like that a generation growing old was grumbling about the young. We have obligations towards peoople growing up, we need to raise them up, they are not so bad, we only need to learn how to live together.
She also says she wants to learn English as it would be helpful while travelling.
– Ages ago I was earning Russian, but I don”t remember it anymore– she confesses. – Once I travelled to Barcelonaa long time ago and now I am going a visit ma grandaughter in Dubai.
She is, somehow, afraid about that trip, but a friend from Seniors’ Club travels together with her, it comforts her. He helps her with work in hergarden, mowing grass or cutting off the branches.
I don’t have “a boyfriend” , yet I would like to have one – she jokes. – He must be a tourist..
At her return from Dubai she brings everyone shells she collected herself on the beach. Well, about this travel we will talk another time…