A few years after communism has failed in East Europe, the factory where my uncle has worked was closed down as well as many others.
He tried to get another job but when you're 50 it's difficult to get one...
In order to survive he started traveling to Istanbul. He bought clothes, gold jewelries and small electronics and sold them at home, between neighbours, friends and relatives. Many unemployed did this in the 90's -2000's. This was the way to cover basic needs: shelter, food, clothing.
Were tough times, he was always tired (14 hours on a bus to get to Istanbul from Bucharest, always overweight luggage), struggling to sell his goods, but … he fall in love with Istanbul.
My uncle did this for almost 10 years. After the 2000's, romanian market started align to international markets so his small business wasn't anymore profitable.
With borrowed money started another business: selling potatoes in a little market in the neighborhood.
Sun, rain, always with dirty hands, he did this 4 years and then retired.
In 2004 my parents died in a horrible car crash so he took care of me since then. I was only 16. Retiring pension was a misery, after 30 years of work, les then 200$.
To be able to take care of me, he finds work as a doorkeeper in a local bank. Nowadays, he still retired and still working as doorkeeper (part time) and dreaming to see Istanbul again.
He's nostalgic, he loves the european and asian city with all it's magic. Told me once he wants to see it one more time before he dies.
"18 years, 18 years, in 2000 I went for the last time in Istanbul...I would like to see it again, once" always says this.
It's hard for me, he was my support after my parents death, I watch him every day tracking every last penny to live a decent life. Never ask money, never complains, always with his smile.
He never accepts my money, only different gift (a t-shirt, voucher to the dental clinic) or I just lie him: "I bought to much meat, We won`t eat it, do you want it?"
My uncle turned 68 last week and I want to thank him for all he had done by giving him the best gift ever: a trip to Istanbul. I saved money, I can offer him 350$ (299 Eur.) to spend there, but I need money for the flight and living accommodation in november (more affordable in november).
I going to say to him that I won this trip (single travel) and I can`t go without my husband, now more than ever because I pregnant.
Let's make a dream come true!