Have you ever wandered what are the things that make you feel alive? What gives you strength and power to live everyday and bring yourself to the world?
Let me tell you about my grandmother. Her name is Zlatka and I was named after her 26 years ago so one of the few things we have in common is this name that means gold. When I started thinking about sharing with the world the stories of people who brought life to my life, I instantly knew that the first person should be my grandmother. Not because she is strongly present in my life – she lives far away and I rarely get to see her and spend meaningful time with her. It is because she brings to life a whole myriad of people and experiences that are hidden in the family history and in her life like deeply hidden golden nuggets that await to be discovered.
One way I perceive my grandmother as the keeper of the family heritage and wisdom – her name symbolizes all the qualities of such role – gold lasts through time, it is resilient, it does not react to external conditions, it may change its shape but the core stays the same. My grandmother tells the story of our family and she knows all the romantic and dramatic details of our past. She comes from a wealthy family in a town in Sothern Bulgaria. She grew up in a house at the town’s main street. Her childhood went from helping out with the family silk production to going through WWII and losing all the family property for the benefit of the new Communist state. Her family was a victim of political discrimination many times through the years because of her family bourgeois background. She knows the destiny of most of the family members and she brings them to me and my brother whenever we have the curiosity to ask.
She tells those stories with quiet, patient and slow voice, carefully choosing each word and making sure that all the details and relationships are presented in the right way. Some of her stories are deeply emotional or painful, however, she looks at them with clear understanding that they are now in the past and there is no need for nostalgia or regrets. She writes down her memories and appreciates the happy life she has and the challenges she has been able to overcome. Her inner strength and resilience, her ability to accept reality as it is and look forward have always been astonishing for me.
Looking at her I keep asking myself – what are the memories and experiences I wish to have in order to have the power to keep living and enjoying life in my 80ies?