I was moved almost to tears and shown what it means to be patriotic in a truly beautiful way today by my seventy-three-year old landlady (I rent a flat, don’t own one).
I got a call from my landlady today asking if she could pop round and collect her bills and any other post that might be for her. True to her word the petite lady came round in around five minutes elegantly wrapped in a long dark coat and a beige scarf and matching flat-cap. We exchanged New Years’ greetings, I handed her mail to her and we made idle chit-chat. She had just arrived back from New York (probably terribly jet-lagged) but was out bouncing and hopping like a teenager – a woman of unbelievable energy and charisma.
It was quite late and dark outside and she asked me if I would accompany her to “the statue” so she could “commemorate the dead”. I had no idea what she was talking about. Sure enough after several minutes we were in Park Śmigłego-Rydza and there bang in the middle is the famous crown within which is a huge monument to the fallen engineers who liberated Warsaw. The elderly lady graceful approached the engineer and took one of his huge metal fingers in her hands and began speaking to him like a son: “Without you boys we wouldn’t be here, thank you. Thank you so much”. She said the words directly to the statue, to all those who had lost their lives defending (and liberating) Warsaw. She had been there and seen the terror and meant (and felt) every word. “Thank you so very much,” she sighed and then placed a neat bunch of freshly-cut tulips in the soldiers’ hands.
And with that we went home.