Hindsight

Is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? I was so gung ho to be setting up a new blog and a new learning experience that I completely overlooked an aspect of my history. It came back to me with a vengeance when my Uncle Jakub died. 15 years younger than my Dad, the two had never met until Dad returned to Poland at the age of 79. Estranged from his country by the events of World War II, it took 64 years before Dad could be reunited with his family.

Emotional doesn’t do it justice. One of the remarkable things was that Jakub and Dad were like kindred spirits. Both loved to puff away at the demon nicotine, a ‘piwo’ to hand, but more importantly a set of dominos and the book in which Jakub meticulously kept score. Occasionally I joined them, and was gently chided when I laid the dominos in a pattern deemed incorrect. Despite my protestations, my dominos were relegated to their ‘proper’ place and I rarely won. Simple, happy times! I almost didn’t need language, which was just as well. After Dad died I returned to Poland one more time. We communicated in hugs, and dominos.

Uncle Jakub, at home with his kids

In August Jakub died, suddenly, of a heart attack. Messages reached me simultaneously from different family members. And then, a few weeks later, a grandson contacted me. He was overwhelmed by Dad’s story, and wanted to collect data to piece everything together. Could I help? He referred to a TV news item that featured Dad’s return to Poland. I had a CD of the event. I played it again, and it made me cry. Dad’s Teesside accent, acquired over many years, and the very warmth of the man.

I was winding up Restlessjo. An interval in my life which I had thoroughly enjoyed, but felt I had outgrown. What I had overlooked was the Polish connection. When Jakub’s grandson was searching the ‘Net he found Exploring the Polish Connection, and it brought him here to me. Just this week I realised that I had jettisoned my whole Polish saga with the old blog. That can’t be right, can it?

56 thoughts on “Hindsight

  1. So sorry for your loss, Jo. It is wonderful that Uncle Jakob’s grandson managed to find you through your previous blog. As long as it remains up, those searching for your Polish roots will still find you?

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  2. Sweet photo and such precious memories. Enjoyed your post so much.

    Jo, it is possible to move your posts from your old blog to this one. The comments will move as well but not the likes.

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  3. Jo, I’m sorry to hear about your uncle Jakub’s passing. I’m glad his grandson found you via your blog. I’m sure there are ways to move your posts from one RestlessJo blog to your current blog, or download your old posts in PDF and post the PDFs on your current site.

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  4. I’ve just returned from he funeral of one of my oldest and dearest friends so I’m in a place to appreciate the death or someone close to you. Uncle Jacob and your Dad sound lovely characters and it’s wonderful for you to have those memories of them. Hold fast to your Polish ancestry Jo, and even if you never get to visit Poland again, you have the knowledge of your heritage to keep you going, maybe to do some more research, or to delve deeper into Polish history or maybe just to revel in the fact that you have have this β€˜extra’, another country to consider yours. I’ll follow you here but also keep an eye on Restless Jo. Rest assured, I won’t be far away.

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    • I’m sorry for that, Mari. I remember you saying that they weren’t well. Close friends aren’t replaceable, hon. I’m very lucky to have some both here and in the UK. And as you say a very wonderful history to be part of. Thank you! πŸ€—πŸ’•

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  5. So glad you got to know him, and have all these fabulous memories.

    And as for WP, how bizarre. I knew it would shut down to general public but like you I thought it would still be accessible to the owner. Highlights the importance of taking back ups even more to me.

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  6. Sorry to hear about your loss. For me as well it is always interesting and wonderful to know more about my heritage but sometimes it is just too hard to know where to start. Have a great day my friend.

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  7. I am so glad you provided the link to your “Polish connection”. There are quite a few things that really resonated with me. I’ve had folks telling me I should write my story, but I have so many missing pieces because the family that made it here to the USA never liked to speak of the times they endured during WW II.
    I’m still thinking of putting a post together SOMEDAY with pics I have that were taken while we were in a displaced persons camp in Germany. I was just a little sprout back then.
    Maybe tomorrow…. πŸ€”

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    • For Dad the past was the past and much of it better forgotten. I never wanted to disturb the past while he was alive but I’m endlessly grateful he reconnected with his family. You have to be in the right mood to write about it, Gunta. Your life is so very different now. πŸ€—πŸ’•

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  8. Sorry to learn about your Uncle Jakub, but so glad your dad actually got to meet the brother he never knew about. Your Polish reunion was so wonderful, I had to go and read it again. I hope you keep in touch with your Polish family still. As for RestlessJo I am sure if you hadn’t renewed the domain it would simply revert to restlessjo.wordpress.com and the content would still be there.

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    • That’s what I understood too, Jude, but on the 6th when the year had elapsed I was unable to access any aspect of Restlessjo. I enquired of WP and was assured that renewing the domain was my only option. I felt cheated but I didn’t want to risk the loss.
      Yes, I’m in fairly regular contact with the Polish family in various places. I hope I always will be πŸ€—πŸ’•

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  9. Amazing stories of your family, Jo. I think my husband’s father who served in WWII in Germany, could tell a few tales if he were still alive. I’m sure there is a seamless way to connect the stories to your new blog. Check with WordPress, or ask Hugh from Hugh’s Views and News! All these stories we have about our families need to be kept alive in some way. Thanks for sharing more of your beautiful heart!

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    • Thanks so much, Terri. I’m not sure how I’ll go about it because it’s unlikely that I’ll return to Poland in the near future, but quite conceivable that younger members of the Polish family will come here. In any case, the connection won’t be broken.

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  10. How interesting, and also lovely, that your father was able to reconnect with his brother like that and you with his grandson. The latter proves that your old blog and the work you put into it isn’t lost, even if you’re no longer adding to that blog.

    One thing you might consider – actually in a way you’ve already done it here – is to write a post here that summarises your Polish stories and link to the fuller posts so anyone interested might find them. Certainly you have piqued my interest enough to go and take a look πŸ™‚

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    • I tend to forget that people who haven’t known me so long don’t know about my Dad and the amazing times we had, Sarah. My A-Z of Poland on the Restlessjo blog tells it all in instalments and it’s the main reason I don’t want to let the blog disappear. πŸ€—πŸ’•

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    • I don’t want to leave the Polish story behind, Jet, even though it bears little relation to my current lifestyle. I’m still finding my way on this blog and appreciate any feedback. Thanks so much for your company here. πŸ€—πŸ’•

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  11. You raise an interesting point here Jo. Having written so extensively and invited people to share your life it is difficult to walk away from it. The only sure way would be to delete it altogether but I assume this is something you will not want to do. Managing your blog and the readers it attracts is your Sisyphean task.

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    • You’re not wrong, Andrew! I’ve noticed that people continue to follow Restlessjo even though I don’t post there any more. I need a backed up pocket version to keep for myself but that didn’t seem to be available when I let the domain lapse. Still restless, still trying to work out how to do it best. πŸ€—πŸ’•

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  12. This is so interesting, Jo.
    I know nothing about my dad’s family.

    Dad was twenty years older than mum, his first wife had died, and he had a young son. He came from Barrow-in-Furness, but moved to America and worked in Detroit for the car manufacturer Buick. I’ve no idea why he came back to England. He became a policeman, but by the time I was born, he was a gardener. Beyond that, I know nothing. He died thirty years ago at the age of eighty-seven.

    Dad had two photographs, one of his father and one of his first wife. A family member born here on English soil, but you can know just as little about their parents and siblings as someone who was born in another land.

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  13. But Jo, you haven’t jettisoned it. Simply archived it. It’s there for us all to see whenever we – and more importantly – your family want. So sorry about your Uncle Jakub. But he must have been very old indeed. And celebrate the fact that you have a Polish history! I do too, but it died with my father, who hadn’t lived with us since I was 11. So I have no means of recovering it.

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      • Oh, I see! Well, I originally had my Indian adventures on a different blogging platform, and over one dank winter, transferred all the posts into a new WordPress blog. It’s for me – it’s rarely visited. But it keeps it all in one place, and in your case, if you did anything like this, you could add to it at will, and make sure all the people who might be interested know where to find it.

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