Thursday, 5 January 2017

Farewell to Ciocia Dzunia

To Wrocław (by night train) for the funeral of my late mother's oldest sister, Ciocia Dziunia, who died just before the New Year at the age of 94. The funeral took place at the Osobowicki cemetery, on the north-western edge of Wrocław. It's a cemetery that's become so crowded that only the urns of the cremated can now be buried here. So Ciocia Dziunia was cremated the previous evening, with the urn being delivered just in time for the mass at the chapel.

The weather was awful; just above zero, but with a blustery wind blowing. The melting slush mixed with the mud, here and there freezing into a slippery ice rink. I saw a mourner fall over. Later I was told that one of the four pallbearers had slipped at a previous funeral and had broken his arm. Because no one else could step in, he had to continue his duties in obvious pain.

The largest wreath was from Ciocia Dzunia's former employees at FWP (Fundusz Wczasów Pracowniczych - workers' vacation fund - the communist-era trade union-run holiday resorts. She ran the Kotlina Kłodzka district - as she said, 1,000 people, 100 buildings. Although she retired many years ago, they still remembered her.

The inscription shows Ciocia's Dziunia's official age - during the war, many people (my mother included) lied about their age to wangle their way out of this or into that. While my mother had no difficulty in getting the British authorities to accept her real birthdate after the war, Ciocia Dziunia was officially a year younger than she really was.

She was buried alongside her late husband, Marian Pytlarz, who died more than 20 years ago. He fought in the Home Army during WW2.

Below: under a canopy the grave into which Ciocia Dziunia's urn was laid to rest. The cemetery is indeed very crowded, hard to move about without treading on someone's plot.

After the funeral, there was a wake meal held in an nearby restaurant, plenty of reminiscences of a long, eventful life. From pre-war eastern Poland - the Kresy borderlands, now part of Ukraine, deported to northern Russia by Stalin, amnestied in 1941, Ciocia Dzunia stayed with her parents in Soviet Kazakhstan rather than leave the USSR with General Anders' army as both of her younger sisters did, she returned to a Poland run by the communists. In the end, she outlived communism by more than a quarter of a century.

This time last year:
Poland's roads get (slightly) safer in 2015

This time two years ago:
Convenience and the economics of bottled water

This time three years ago:
Locally, it's the little things...

This time last four years ago:
Warsaw bids farewell to its old trams

This time nine years ago:
Five departures from Okęcie

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