I wrote my first post exactly ten years ago, giving some background on this family project. That first year, I faced several challenges regarding the project: translation, classification, digitisation and visual organization, besides verifying oral family stories against credible sources. I have managed to address most of them, but I admit that managing my time spent on the project is the main issue that I have not yet dealt with in a satisfactory way. The six years after my last post were engulfed in a whirlwind of emotions and change which brought all work on the project to a halt.
From the end of June to the end of July 2017, my husband and I went on a family trip to Europe. We stayed with our Belgian family for some time and also met friends in Belgium, the UK , France and Switzerland. I urgently needed some time to unwind after teaching at school and running my own home, disposing of all the paperwork my late father had left behind, handling all mother’s bills and financial documents, running her place and managing her caretakers.
Although my mother was still with us in 2016 and 2017 and would help whenever I needed information or confirmation on the family’s past, her increasingly failing health and the operations she had to undergo due to a skin cancer diverted our thoughts from these matters. She needed medical care and practical assistance at home, so all the time spent with her was devoted to giving her maximum attention and making her comfortable and happy. She went on palliative care when we returned from Europe, and she died on February 8th, 2018. I still miss her terribly.
Most of 2018 and 2019 were committed to cleaning out my parent’s flat and taking care of the estate planning and sale. In the process of doing so, I came across more family photos, papers and mementos, which came in handy, provided more content and connected some more dots in this project, while also documenting my father’s side of the family (Juźwiak), to whom I dedicated Silva Rerum in 2014. In 2018, we travelled to Canada to visit my elder son who has settled there with his family.
In 2020, due to the pandemic, my family in Brazil (husband, my two sons and my grand-daughter) left the city and moved to the countryside, where we have a house. The contact with nature and having the family together was a blessing. However, the Brazilian government at that time denied that the pandemic existed, did not take appropriate measures to approve the vaccine, and failed to set the vaccination scheme, which was a source of anguish for the whole country. Fortunately, the family managed to avoid contracting the virus, thanks to our isolation. I brought all my papers, photos and books, thinking I would have time to continue working on the project. Yet I was still teaching (online) at school, which, together with running the house for the whole family, proved to be a time challenge – so not much was done.
In 2021, we all got vaccinated and schools started reopening in October, but by the end of that year, I did not feel like going back to class in the city as I had done for the previous 38 years. So after a talk with the headmaster, we decided it was time for me to leave, which, I must confess, was a relief. Sometimes it is important to stop and change course.
2022 was a year of renovation on two fronts: refurbishing our apartment in the city which felt old and neglected, and adapting our house in the countryside to our needs as we decided to live there for good. Although there were a lot of details to observe in the repairs and refitting of the places, mentally this gave me a resting break, as well as a new sense of perspective about what I had been doing until then. My son and his family came from Canada to spend 15 days with us during the month of July. We went to the beach and had a good time together. I also decided to face my linguistic shortcomings and enrolled for two semesters in an online course of Polish offered by the Casa de Cultura Polônia-Brasil.
2023 – I started this post at the beginning of February and only managed to complete it today, which exemplifies the time management issue besetting this project . ‘Parkinson’s Law’ still applies today. The first semester was dedicated to traveling. My husband and I invited our grand-daughter, Melina, to fly to Portugal with us as she had 15-day- break from school. When she returned to school, we continued our trip to see my husband’s family in Belgium, as well as good friends in France and Switzerland, whom we had not seen since 2017.
It is important to get back on track – so here’s the latest update: I enrolled again in the Polish classes in August and have a new post titled “The linguistic challenge revisited” still in draft.