Wujek Tolek's Birthday

Trip Start Jun 16, 2010
Trip End Aug 18, 2010

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Uncle Tolek and Ciocia jasia

Flag of Poland  , Opole Voivodeship,
Saturday, July 3, 2010

Germany demolished Argentina 4:0 and my only remaining hope is Netherlands. But today was "Happy Nameday to Wujek Tolek!" Uncle Tolek is my Godfather, and the very best anyone could ask for. He was the first to teach me basic English. He supported my music addiction by giving me 5 złote every time a new record showed up at the store. I could always come over and listen to the new records he bought or won in radio contests. That's how I found out about Jimmy Buffet and Dolly Parton. I don’t know anybody else as obsessed with Elvis as he is and my only regret is never being able to bring him for a tour of Graceland.

Uncle Tolek had another passion – books. He fed my love of reading by suggesting the authors he thought I should read, even if or maybe because they were not on the school-required list. He was also my source of accurate historical information. In times when our school teachers were not allowed to be honest, especially about the post-WWII era, Wujek Tolek made sure I learned the true history of Poland.

Uncle Tolek’s hobby I never thought I would pick up was photography. He was the only person I knew who owned a camera and he developed his pictures in a tiny bathroom, driving my Aunt Jasia crazy. Not many of my peers have as many picture memories from their childhood as my family does. From the day I was born, my life was documented at least once a week; first in black & white and later, around 1980, in color. When I was 2 years old, Uncle Tolek took a picture of me holding a sapling of a tree. He titled it “We grow together” and sent it to a competition. The picture won 1st place and my uncle received a wonderful prize: a week-long trip to Moscow.

Thirty years later, even though I’ve been taking pictures all my adult life, I realized my dream of having a “good” camera and taking pictures for more reasons than just chronicling my adventures. It has been a great way to express myself, and an occasional praise brings me much satisfaction. I love sharing my photography with Uncle Tolek and see the pride in his face, as if he wanted to say, “I taught her that!”

So today we will bring him flowers and gifts, eat the yummy treats prepared by his wife, but I will send up a prayer of thanksgiving for the best Uncle ever, who stepped in when my Father passed away, and made sure I grew up to be a decent human being.

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