‘You are the most beautiful thing on the globe’ Kacper’s mother greeted him in the morning. ‘Happy Children’s Day’, she added. Kacper smiled. ‘Mum, I am 36 years old… Kind of difficult to justify that it is my holiday’ he teased her. She embraced him, and kissed his cheek. ‘You will always be my child, and I am so very proud of you’ she told him. She paused for a while, and her thoughts seemed to have taken her somewhere far. ‘I am very lucky to have two sons like you and your brother’, mum became slightly emotional. ‘No, not at all Mama’ Kacper interrupted. ‘It is us, who are so very lucky to have you and Tata as our parents’ he reassured her. She got up from a chair, where she had sat a moment earlier and suggested: ‘Let’s have some really nice breakfast’.
Kacper smiled again, when he thought of his mother calling him The Most Beautiful Thing. This is how she always referred to him, this is how she would address letters or emails to him, and this is how she called him, whenever he was sad or unhappy in hospitals that he used to stay in. Of course, when he was a teenager, he was ashamed of his nickname. ‘Mum, stop calling me like that… at least in front of friends…’ he used to beg her. Today though, whenever he hears her referring to him as The Most Beautiful Thing, he recalls his most wonderful moments of childhood, and he thinks of passing time.
‘God, I am 36… where is all the time gone?’ he sometimes wonders. He looks at his slowly ageing parents. ‘I am so glad that they have comfortable lives now’ comes through his mind. He only knows too well, how difficult things used to be in the past. Kacper always required lots of care. His medical condition made him stay in various hospitals around the country for over a decade. As a baby, and later an older child, Kacper’s body was so weak and deformed that many doctors didn’t give him much chance of surviving past the age of fifteen. He only learnt how to walk at the age of five. At the age of eleven, he started the series of complicated surgeries, which physically transformed him into being a fairly normal looking kid. He still remembers, once, when he woke up after a long operation at the Polyclinic of the Jagiellonian University in Zakopane, all of the sudden he became 12 centimetres taller… His chest and back humps were dramatically reduced, and he could actually get up, and stand straight without his nose touching his knees…
All of these miracles were only possible because of his parents. It is especially his mother, who fought for him, and decided to never give in. ‘Kacper, you are just a normal kid… perhaps with some more physical challenges than some of your friends, but you are a normal kid! Moreover, you can achieve in life, whatever you can only dream of, as long as you work hard to get it’ she tirelessly kept on teaching him. Today, Kacper is convinced that she needed these teachings herself, she needed them to be strong, and to be able to go through all obstacles that her fate prepared for her – obstacles that in communist Poland were not necessarily easy to face.
‘We will need to operate your son, but there is very little likelihood that we succeed’ the doctor told mum and dad at the private meeting at her Zakopane office. ‘We have no choice however. Should you decide not to go for this surgery, Kacper’s health will deteriorate fast, and he is likely to die within 6 months to 1 year’ she added. ‘I need to be honest that his surgery will be complicated, and many things may go wrong, but I strongly believe that we need to offer him this chance’ she tried to convince them. She then explained that she was going to involve one of the French humanitarian organisations to help them finance some of the sophisticated tools that they needed for performing the surgery. It was the middle of 1981, and Poland was heading towards the total economical and political meltdown. The meltdown that stripped hospitals from funding, and access to technology that they desperately needed for helping their own patients effectively. ‘I would like to suggest that we perform the surgery, as soon as we have all the means to do so’ she went on. ‘There is no question… of course, we agree for this surgery, and we only hope that we shall be able to be helpful in raising funds for it’ Kacper’s parents agreed at once.
‘Darling, you do not need to worry about money’ Auntie Marysia told Kacper’s mother on the phone (Auntie Marysia is featured in Post 31). ‘We will borrow you anything you might need to have, and then, I will arrange work for you here in Montreal, so you can come over and save some more money for further treatment’ she tried to be as helpful as she possibly could. ‘Darling, you don’t need to cry, we will go through it together, I will help you as much as I can’ she calmed crying mum down.
With the support coming from the French humanitarian organisation, combined with the loan from Auntie Marysia in Canada, the doctors were ready for the surgery just two months later. ‘Now, the only thing that you need to worry about is that we do a good job… and I would like to promise you that we will do all in our power to save Kacper’ the doctor tried to be as optimistic as she could.
‘Mum, when am I going to have the operation? I want to have it now, and I want to get better, so I can go home and play with other kids – this is what you used to demand, when I was visiting you in Zakopane’ mum told Kacper years later. ‘I was so scared of listening to this… Of course, I couldn’t tell you how serious the things were… However, you wanting the operation so much made me feel a bit less worried’ she would later explain.
On 12th December 1981, Kacper had his surgery. When he woke up in the intensive care unit, he saw many of the nurses crying. ‘What is happening? Am I now well? Why are you crying?’ he asked. ‘No, no child, you are doing very well, in fact, you make me hope things will be fine, you are our SUNSHINE… it is just that I am worried that our country is going into the civil war…’ she stroke Kacper’s head. ‘The Marital Law arrived when you were in the hospital… Of course, life always used to do it to us…’ mum smiled. ‘One worry was not enough… we worried of you, and then we worried about what was happening in the country’ she added. She then recalled that she couldn’t even visit Kacper in the hospital, and therefore she didn’t know how the operation went for a long while. ‘The telephone lines were cut, and they imposed travel restrictions on all citizens… I couldn’t visit you for nearly 2 weeks’ mum had tears in her eyes.
Around 2 years later, when Kacper was already getting better, mum left to Canada for a year. She went to Montreal to work as an illegal caretaker of an old Jewish lady of Polish origins. Although, her employers turned out to be some wonderful people, and became friends of the family, mum recalls the time in Canada to be the most difficult in her whole life. ‘I missed you guys so much, I didn’t want to be there, just had no choice… I needed to repay the debts’ she explained. ‘Good news was that I was lucky enough to make enough to give the money back, and to earn more to bring back to Poland to help the family a bit’ mum added proudly.
Kacper looked out of the window at the beautiful garden, and blossoming flowers. ‘I am here, and I can do whatever I do in life, just because of stubbornness of my mother…’ he thought. ‘I just hope that I will be able to provide to mum and dad as long as they need it, so that they can enjoy some comforts at least when they grow older’ he sincerely hoped.
‘The Most Beautiful Thing’, mum called Kacper. ‘Come over and join us for breakfast’ she invited.
PS. Kacper is preparing for his departure to Islamabad.