Pani Seydlitzowa z domu Lamparska

I just found this rather interesting (to me, at least) photograph. Taken in Egerton Court about 1966, from the left are my Aunt Alice, my mother Grazyna, her mother in law, Pani Seydlitzowa, as I called her, and Dr Ewa Janaszewska, a kidney specialist from Poland. More about her another time.

Pani Seydlitzowa, as you can see, was very regal. She was born to a Polish speaking family in the Russian partition of Poland at the end of the 19th century. I remember her telling me that her family were not rich and that the only dowry her father could give her and her sisters was a good education. And so he did.

She was very knowledgeable about many things. And that’s it really as far as facts are concerned. As a child I found her really difficult to get to know. Only after she died, when I was about seventeen, did I realise how kind she was and loving. As a child I just found her extremely irritating. Let me give you one example. I am not proud of this and it reminds me we must not judge.

I was an only child used to doing things in my own time. I still don’t like to be chivvied or rushed. Some would say I’m slow. Others lazy. My mother was one of the few mothers who went out to work. She would sometimes come home stressed and tired. She would want to put her feet up. I would have been fed and watered by step grandmother if she was staying. I wanted to do my own thing. The three of us were in the living room. My mother would ask me to bring her something. I would say yes of course, (I was a good girl, after all) and slowly gather myself to get up. Meanwhile Pani S would leap to her feet and go and get whatever it was that my mother wanted. Oh the shame, the embarrassment of it all. That I, a child, should let an old lady fulfil my task.

I hated her, poor woman. She was utterly lovely. But very old fashioned. The other occasion when she got in my way was when my mother let me invite a boy to the house for the afternoon. I wasn’t allowed out as I had a cold. I must have been sixteen.

He came, and Pani S very kindly opened the door, and invited him into the living room. Then she called me. I grabbed my box of tissues and went into the salon, to be met with the sight of two occupied easy chairs. We had three arranged in a very open triangle. Andrzej perched on one looking a bit bemused. Pani S on the other, pointedly reading her book. What was I to do? I sat down on the third and proceeded to have a very stilted conversation with Andrzej. Our chaperone neither looked up nor said a word. But I knew, I knew, she was listening and internally recording every word. Oh the horror of it all. The awkwardness. This was the swinging sixties after all.

He left very quickly after that. I saw him again when I was 21. We could only laugh.

I remember complaining to my mother. She would have none of it, and just giggled.

18 comments on “Pani Seydlitzowa z domu Lamparska

  1. Thank you, Basia, for a lovely story! I am surprised that you were born here as it was difficult to leave Poland before, and your parents must have to find the way.
    I came from Poland a long time ago and I am part of the furniture now.
    I hope that you read at least one of my posts, and not just look at the titles!


    Liked by 1 person

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