Monday, April 04, 2005

Romish Remembrance

Gentle visitors, would that any of us would have a hundred thousand well-wishers standing vigil outside our window, as we lay dying.

Your humble Contributors expects something close to that number when his time comes -- only, said crowd would be peopled with angry creditors, disgruntled clients, former friends and neighbors seeking to reclaim books and various garden implements, and, of course, largely disappointed poor relations importuning for a last codicil that would render some pittance from himself's meager estate.

How well your humble Contributor remembers the time when Polish jokes suddenly became passe. Yes, we loved the Italians: but, four hundred years of them? Sure, scallopini, cacciatori, parmigiana, marinara, antipasti -- but, we were ready for some pierogi.

So, it was, that your humble Contributor -- still a mere scruff of a lad -- found himself sitting across a table from Lech in a dingy, Gdansk greasehouse, over a plate of kapusta and a glass of Zlota Woda, struggling to understand his Northern Polish accent. It was, "charlie-ski" this, and "charlie-ski" that.

Finally, one had to lean over to Lech's lieutenant, who'd spend a few terms at Lublin, and ask, "Who is he talking about?". "Why," he said, "the Holy Father." Then, after the glass was filled a few times, one had to lean over and ask, "Whatisthisschtuffit'sgood." The answer came, "Aqua vitae, my friend -- the "water of life" -- here... let me help you back into your seat."

Next day -- no hangover -- and off, via mule and a secret route to Vienna, thence on a train south across the Alps. One figures, "when in Rome....." So, a few contacts at the Curia, a few bottles of Zlota Wota and fresh links of kielbasa placed in the right hands. , and -- next thing you know -- a private audience with Papa.

To be sure, he was a poet and a philosopher --still hale, before the Turk's near miss (a pair of skiis propped in the corner) -- a sparkle in his eye - yes, he was known as a wag in school. "Well, you've heard my plan. I'll need a few more years yet," he said. "Come back, and we'll talk further. More wine?". One had to ask, "But, how can this possibly be done? You have no divisions or legions." He smiled. "Think Pole -- and, give my best to Dutch."

Now, he's gone; but, it's hard to feel very distraught. His suffering is over, and many come to celebrate a life well led, and a life -- by most accounts -- that continues. Viva il papa.

2 Comments:

Blogger Gone Away said...

He was a great man.

4/05/2005 06:35:00 AM  
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