My funeral address for my Father - March 7th, 2015.
(Translated from my original Polish speech by my son, Maciej Sopek)
He taught us what work is.
He also taught us, especially during our time in Gorzów, about the value of rest, especially among nature.
When I’m thinking about this on this special day – about this sphere of Dad’s life – a fragment from the poet Norwid comes to my mind: “to work – so that one is resurrected” …
He taught us humility and modesty
Today there is no doubt in my mind that the following words best describe Dad:
He taught us that this is the only important thing that will be left after we are gone from this world.
He taught us that taking care of our families is not confined to ensuring material goods, but that it involves things ordinary and simple, and still so often forgotten – kindness, tolerance, everyday attention.
I am absolutely certain that this wisdom of Romek will continue to inspire us for a long time to come.
He taught us tolerance and respect for the freedom of others
He was even able to understand those who, having misunderstood his stance, wrongly considered him their enemy, here in Łódź, when Poland finally regained independence. Despite being treated very unjustly, he never lost faith in Solidarity and the meaning of our entire path towards freedom.
This seems like a paradox, but in a country divided so much these days, such a lesson in tolerance will be of the highest importance.
He taught us that when we go astray, we can always return to the good path
This lesson will remain with us forever and we would like to teach it to our children and grandchildren.
When he was taken to the hospital three weeks ago, he was very nervous, because he thought they would hurt him somehow. When Mom calmed him down and explained what was actually happening, he told her why he was so agitated – “I just want to live a bit longer”.
Many people in such terrible physical state give up altogether and want to put an end to their suffering.
Dad saw that which matters in life the most: life itself. Seeing and feeling the world, having thoughts, meeting the loved ones - regardless of one’s condition, or even pain – and in this sense, he never surrendered.
But he also taught us that eventually we must give up
But if this does not result in capitulation, or a scream of rebellion, or the insanity of fear, but instead, we humbly face even the worst physical limitations; if it involves a profound awareness of everything around us – then in this lies true victory. This was the case with Romek – everyone who spent even a few moments with him in the last few years knew that, despite often being unable to talk, he still had a perfect grasp of everything going on with and around Him.
In this sense, Romek taught us the greatest and the most important lesson that a Father, a Husband, an uncle, a neighbor, a friend -- a human being could teach us – a lesson in dying.
Dad was a poet
This is why I would like to finish today’s laudation with three fragments from his works.
The first longer poem began this way:
the Sopek family lived among farms
Grandfather Grzegorz, a solid farmer
He greeted work with open arms.
Words of kindness, uttered promptly
Avoid evil, she would teach
Telling us - - “God bless you each!”
For the road she gave supplies
Mom shared everything that she could
Loved her children equally good.
Parents now alone became
This life’s song forever sung:
What is old makes way for young.
Romek, Mietek and Władek.
They arrived at the city
At the farm stayed Father.
Marysia a pharmacist, Mietek a physician.
A colonel! – became of Władek.
Who’s the farmer?… Father.
Marysia – on great concerts,
Mietek, Władek – in cafés,
Whose hard work is then? Father’s!
Mietek and Władek – cognac, for a change.
Marysia – only coffee – otherwise don’t bother!
Who still drinks buttermilk? Mon -- and Father.
All their tummies are well rounded,
Mietek, Władek getting stronger,
Marysia keenly blossoms too,
Ever thin remains - Father…