It’s unusual to find a moment in time when such a shout would seem appropriate but the occasion, last weekend, of babcia’s 95th birthday party was one of them.
For God, it all kicked off with a church service. Despite being a big church the congregation had overflowed and it was standing room outside only. Thankfully the weather was wonderful. The priest mentioned babcia in the service and so he should, she’s been attending the same church for a very long time now.
Strange connection #1 – standing outside were many families with small children. As we watched a toddler, probably no more than a yearling, enjoying herself, she saw the gate leading to the street and suddenly found an extra gear. Before anyone could react (especially the mother who, it has to be said, was not paying as much attention as the circumstance demanded) the toddler had shot straight out the gate and into the road where she was very narrowly missed by a car. Had the toddler been just slightly further out in the road or the driver been the usual kind of lunatic as opposed to a rather slow learner driver I imagine certain death would have been the result. At an occasion when most of us are contemplating the inevitable death of a 95 year old we nearly witnessed the death of a 1 year old. On the flipside, had the mother been closer and not wearing impossibly high heels, no doubt a part of the ‘Sunday best’ outfit to be worn when attending church, we would not have had this close shave at all. God working in mysterious ways?
For family, we had quite a gathering with 5 generations present. Most interestingly, we welcomed a second foreigner to the clan, me being the first. Helder is a Portuguese chap from Porto who for over a year was unable to find work in his home town and so has ended up in Warsaw working for a global bank doing something techno. He has also ended up as the father of a two month old baby girl whose mother, Ola, is a part of our family. He did not hesitate to choose the flaki (tripe soup) over the rosół (gutless broth) and he finished it quicker than I did so I think he’s going to be fine.
By way of recording the names of those present, the following people are in the attached photo of the large group:
Strange connection #2 – the bank Helder is working for is also a client of mine and so I quite often visit the building he is working in. Small world.
Finally, for country, we have Piłsudski. Around the back of the church was some fine graffiti bearing a quote of his “To be defeated and not submit, is victory; to be victorious and rest on one’s laurels, is defeat.”
Strange connection #3 – Piłsudski’s highpoint as a military leader was the defeat of the Red Army at the Battle of Warsaw in 1920, three years before babcia was born. Perhaps the most notable event of his time in politics though was the May Coup of 1926, when babcia was already 3 years old. He was then offered the presidency but refused and instead settled for being simply the Minister of Defence. He remained, however, the most influential politician in Poland, and became the power behind the throne until his death in 1935. And here we are today with another simple minister being the power behind a different throne and usurping Piłsudski (at least architecturally) by erecting statues and monumnets around the square that bears his name.