Who are all these people getting on the plane at the Bordeaux Airport and heading for Poland? What will they do there? Are they all Polish? Is my father among them? No, of course not, not him dead now more than forty years.

No, not him, but people of his blood, and therefore of my blood, too.

Will I recognize them when we reach Warsaw? Will they recognize me?

Of course not I tell myself again. Of course not. Instead, I will look for the influences of this land that produced the father I barely knew.

How will I possibly find them in a world long gone, a world destroyed by war and the shame of reprisals?

What have I come here for? To find those secrets in my heart that have kept me away from the difficult heritage I now embrace? To feel the air of this land? To breathe it? To see the sunrise on a Polish morning? To hear the Polish birds at dawn sing their Polish songs, and also their Polish dirges of a blood-soaked soil? To hear the whispers of a people who like people everywhere yearn for more and who learned to accept less?

I regret that I cannot speak Polish, the language of my father that I hear all around me in the seats of this plane.

But it is his voice I hear in my head, and already I rejoice that I am making this visit, put off for so many years and for so many reasons.

I am sitting in Business Class due to a lucky seat upgrade on a beautiful Air France plane. As the champagne and china plate breakfast are served to me, I note with a bitter and laughable irony how my father last saw Warsaw in late September 1939 as he fled the burning city, the Nazis and Russian soldiers chasing him through the streets. As I have written in my memoir, Passage From England, he fled the city of his youth as it collapsed around him, escaping to England amid the horrors of war, never to see Warsaw again.

I will see it for him.

Park Dad

My father sits at right in his LOT Polish Air Force uniform, one week before WWII began.

And I now know what I have come for…to find a part of myself. The empty part. The deepest part, the part we all know cannot be recovered and yet we search for it just the same.

I exhale. The plane lands. The taxi appears.

Nettie and I arrive late day in Warsaw, the rain falling softly, the trees outside our apartment window in spring blossom. Exhausted from the early morning journey, we fall into bed, the new day bright ahead of us.

If you’re interested in seeing photos of our first days in Warsaw, click here: Warsaw First Days

New View

View from our apartment within the city walls of Old Town Warsaw.

 

5 Responses to The Plane To Warsaw

  1. Maxwell says:

    You look like you are among your people…the beard etc. Great pictures…the air looks so clean and no skyscrapers. Have a kiesbasa for me! Max

  2. Frank Z says:

    Thanks! I’m happy to follow all your advice, more photos, more comments, and more vodka!

  3. Gary and I feel like we are walking in your shoes in Warsaw! Your photos brought back wonderful memories for us. We can hardly wait until you journey on to other parts of Poland ~ you will not be disappointed. May the weather cooperate for you, enjoy the perogies, kielbasa and Polish beer! And when the occasion arises ‘salute with a shot of vodka.’ Just keep saying “Tak” and you won’t have any language problems 🙂
    Warmest regards!!
    Gary n Alexandra

  4. Virginia says:

    Really fun to see all the street scenes. The Starbucks shot could’ve been taken in Santa Monica…the world gets smaller. The last one, with Frank & the look-alike accordion player – Frank, you are among your people! I agree with Sean, keep them coming.

  5. Sean says:

    I Love It! Love seeing you guys enjoying yourselves in such a fascinating place.
    Keep the pictures coming! — Sean

Leave a Reply to Sean Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.