Dear John

You always wanted to learn more Polish so that we could have secret conversations together, but it never happened.  You never had any problem with me being from a Polish family and were interested in Polish history and culture.

These were things you knew how to say in Polish:

‘To jest pies’ (This is a dog)

‘To jest pociag’ (This is a train)

‘Jaka okropna pogoda’ (What dreadful weather!)

I don’t know where you learned this last, maybe from someone at work.  You sort of used to joke about it, enjoy using it when it was appropriate, when the weather was bad.

When I was visiting you and talking to you in hospital, and the weather was bad, I said it to you.  I thought it might show me you were there, if it elicited some sign of recognition or humour, but no.

You knew the tune to the Polish National Anthem, but I don’t think you knew all the words.

You did know some of the words to this key Polish Christmas Carol, and sung along bits of this first verse with us sometimes:

‘Bog sie rodzi, moc truchleje

…  i mieszkalo miedzy nami’.

(God is born.. and lived among us.)

In fact you knew many of the tunes of the Polish Christmas Carols, having heard them so often.

You also definitely knew all the words to the Polish Birthday song – Sto Lat.  You could definitely sing it all the way through.

I’ve said to people, I don’t want to ever hear that song again.  The sentiment is, ‘May you live a hundred years’.

A very sore point, since you only just made it past halfway, John.

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