WHAT A PERFECT PLACE

Why is this home?

Travellers know all the confusion of the human condition. They all share travelling puzzlement and anxiety.
Travellers know all the confusion of the human condition. They all share travelling puzzlement and anxiety.
Some have strayed across not just geographical boundaries but ethical and sexual one too. Hope steers them and love sustains them, although it can become fraught.
Some have strayed across not just geographical boundaries but ethical and sexual one too. Hope steers them and love sustains them, although it can become fraught.
Before we finished our European holiday, my father was experiencing stomach pain. The doctor in Rome wanted to put him in hospital for tests....
Before we finished our European holiday, my father was experiencing stomach pain. The doctor in Rome wanted to put him in hospital for tests....
but all arrangements had been made for us to leave. I went back to Australia and my father back to Canada.
but all arrangements had been made for us to leave. I went back to Australia and my father back to Canada.
An operation to remove 80 per cent of my father's stomach was performed within the weeks.
An operation to remove 80 per cent of my father's stomach was performed within the weeks.
He wrote to me later: 'After eight wonderful months spent in my peaceful retreat, I began to deteriorate, bring the kids, come to visit me...'
He wrote to me later: 'After eight wonderful months spent in my peaceful retreat, I began to deteriorate, bring the kids, come to visit me...'
And we did...we loved Canada but as winter approached we longed for our warm shores.
And we did...we loved Canada but as winter approached we longed for our warm shores.
"On the road again," he sang when we took him to the airport to fly with us to Australia for change. He was always on the road, even sitting home...wherever his home was...
"On the road again," he sang when we took him to the airport to fly with us to Australia for change. He was always on the road, even sitting home...wherever his home was...
searching for spiritual and intellectual answers to life's mysteries.
searching for spiritual and intellectual answers to life's mysteries.
Understandably perhaps, he found beauty in corners of Thailand, on our stop over as well as in Australia that its natives never see.
Understandably perhaps, he found beauty in corners of Thailand, on our stop over as well as in Australia that its natives never see.
His naive gaze shed clear light on the good and bad that Australia has to offer one more enigmatic arrival on our shores.
His naive gaze shed clear light on the good and bad that Australia has to offer one more enigmatic arrival on our shores.
Taken for a drive through the city's western suburbs he marveled at the rooftops stars and flowers and waterfalls of ligtht, the illuminated evening sky above the dark ocean...
Taken for a drive through the city's western suburbs he marveled at the rooftops stars and flowers and waterfalls of ligtht, the illuminated evening sky above the dark ocean...
He loved the idea that a backyard is a place of refuge, a quiet place for contemplation, hidden from the outside world. The sound of a gentle fountain delivering that essential thread of life in the dry land - water to much-loved trees.
He loved the idea that a backyard is a place of refuge, a quiet place for contemplation, hidden from the outside world. The sound of a gentle fountain delivering that essential thread of life in the dry land - water to much-loved trees.
"It's all about simplicity, this is all the lifelong refugee like me needs at the end of his life," he said to me.
"It's all about simplicity, this is all the lifelong refugee like me needs at the end of his life," he said to me.
We have been sitting outside trendy cafe in East Perth. A small boat moves over the tranquil waters of nearby Claisebrook Cove.
We have been sitting outside trendy cafe in East Perth. A small boat moves over the tranquil waters of nearby Claisebrook Cove.
Some passers-by seem more intent on the screens of their mobiles than enjoying the surroundings.
Some passers-by seem more intent on the screens of their mobiles than enjoying the surroundings.
"You can have all the paraphernalia of modern life -i-pads, mobile phones, but you still don't connect with people if you don't listen the them and share your life with them." He murmured watching them.
"You can have all the paraphernalia of modern life -i-pads, mobile phones, but you still don't connect with people if you don't listen the them and share your life with them." He murmured watching them.
Our conversation wanders down various parts, suddenly we are at ease talking about the weighty subjects of life and death.
Our conversation wanders down various parts, suddenly we are at ease talking about the weighty subjects of life and death.
"You know, our European holiday last year helped me to realise what's actually important in life, and what's not."
"You know, our European holiday last year helped me to realise what's actually important in life, and what's not."
He suddenly looked at me: " And to remind me of my own mortality."
He suddenly looked at me: " And to remind me of my own mortality."
"I woke up this morning in this beautifully strange land with the sudden realisation I am going to die soon."
"I woke up this morning in this beautifully strange land with the sudden realisation I am going to die soon."
I shook my head and tried hard to smile, but he patted my hand reassuringly: "I know, it's a really confronting thing, well, if you are lucky you get old, and I am the lucky one...
I shook my head and tried hard to smile, but he patted my hand reassuringly: "I know, it's a really confronting thing, well, if you are lucky you get old, and I am the lucky one...
the lucky refugee who has been, for so long denying the passing of time."
the lucky refugee who has been, for so long denying the passing of time."
I looked at the peaceful bay and nodded solemnly: "I think what is true about life ending, it gives life its strength and beauty in knowing that it does end."
I looked at the peaceful bay and nodded solemnly: "I think what is true about life ending, it gives life its strength and beauty in knowing that it does end."
He paused to reflect: "I know when I die there will be a selfish part of you thinking: 'this is going to happen to me one day', it has happened to me as well with my father...
He paused to reflect: "I know when I die there will be a selfish part of you thinking: 'this is going to happen to me one day', it has happened to me as well with my father...
the trouble is, we spend most of our time thinking that's never going to happen to anybody, let alone ourselves."
the trouble is, we spend most of our time thinking that's never going to happen to anybody, let alone ourselves."
My father died few days after that. Coming back to the place of our last conversation I have realised my father was so far ahead of me....
My father died few days after that. Coming back to the place of our last conversation I have realised my father was so far ahead of me....
his inner child still inside him...the only words he wanted to be put on his grave describes him fully: 'The world first lucky refugee'.
his inner child still inside him...the only words he wanted to be put on his grave describes him fully: 'The world first lucky refugee'.
he was always taking photos and looking at everything intensely. But I realise now, when I think of him, that I have started doing that too.
he was always taking photos and looking at everything intensely. But I realise now, when I think of him, that I have started doing that too.
Really seeing the beauty in things.
Really seeing the beauty in things.
"More boat people sent home," I read loudly from the newspaper: "The Federal Government has sent more Sri Lankan refugees home as two new boats arrived in Australian waters."
"More boat people sent home," I read loudly from the newspaper: "The Federal Government has sent more Sri Lankan refugees home as two new boats arrived in Australian waters."
"So what, who cares?" replied my teenager's son.
"So what, who cares?" replied my teenager's son.
"I do," I said quietly knowing then once the pimples on his face will be not the only thing occupying his mind, he will care too, being the grandson of the world first lucky refugee.
"I do," I said quietly knowing then once the pimples on his face will be not the only thing occupying his mind, he will care too, being the grandson of the world first lucky refugee.

to rekindle what was lost

estranged

familial bonds

two weeks

might seem long

to spend with my father

who left our family

before I could walk or talk,

flying away from the Eastern Europe

to the Western democratic part of the world.


Cruising beautiful European waterways

there is nowhere else

I want to be,

being with my father,

to see where he lived as an young man

while I was growing up

dreaming to meet him one day,

looking across the border

lined with barbed fence

over the heads of armed soldiers

with their nasty guns pointed at me...



Upon arriving in Paris

we hit the ground running

no time for jet lag

there are three exhilarating days

to be spent absorbing

the City of Love and Lights

the breezy boulevards

of ornate buildings

erected centuries ago

as legacies to kings and emperors

I love the quiant artistic streets

of Montmartre

My father the famous landmarks

the Arc de Triomphe

where he begged for food

so many years back

and of course the Eiffel Tower

where the night-time views

are just magical,

"See that tiny appartment,

one old French lady lived there,

who took me in

to help her with repairs."


As we travel north

by coach to Amsterdam

observing the contrast

of enormous wind propellers

dwarfing rustic church spires

and the bullet train

flying through fields

where cows have grazed

for hundred of years:

"Your Great grand father was fighting here,

more than 94 years ago

and I tried my luck,

here,

over 30 years back."


We reached the tolerant city

of drugs and gay marriages,

the red light district's maze of narrow

cobblestoned streets

and canals

on a Friday night

mingling with hundreds of raucously

intoxicated tourists,

grey figures of migrants

and unnoticable refugees,

hanging around bars

and coffee shops

that don't sell coffee,

my father smiles,

remembering the time here

he worked for cash

repairing roofs on some of them.


As we cruise out of Amsterdam

on our 'Amadeus Briliant'

passengers from every part of the world

look out of the full-length windows

the majority of them

have not been in Europe

before

it is strange to see your native continent

from their point of view.

What are we doing here,

you may ask,

it was my father's idea

to meet somewhere between,

each of us living

on the other side of the world,

cruising the European waterways,

the everyday sights

of a family picknicking next to

their family bicycle

may bring us closer

to our own family roots.


A fisherman's net stretching

into the still water

and the signs

indicating distance from the Rhine's source

remind my father

the time he lived in Cologne and Koblenz,

he explains me the long history

of settlement along the river,

dating back to Roman and Celtic times.

I view the towering castles

of medieval villages

on both sides

constructed during the 11th century

to protect the monasteries

many were plundered

by the conquering

French armies,

they have been lovingly restored

by the German people

over the past 200 years,

and refugees just like my father

were recruited to paint,

to repair,

to maintain it nowadays.


My Father and me

visit the charming walled city of Rothenburg,

perched high on the hill above the Tauber Valley.

He tells me about his favourite pub

where he used to enjoy Bavarian beer

and buys me 'schneeballen'.

Walking within the medieval walls

we taste the deep-fried pastry,

his lips covered with sugar

and chocolate glaze

and yet his eyes do not smile,

"Even born nomads,

eventually weary of the road,

should I have stayed at home,

wherever that may be?"



Walking uneasy

on the former nazi

rally ground

in Nuremberg

the immense proportions of the buildings

make us feel so unsignificant.

Having lived through World War II

as a child

my father has no interest

in entering an eerie museum

and his spirit is uplifted

only after meandering down

the beautiful Danube Gorge

the river of our hometown.


Arriving at the impressive

Benedictine monastery of Weltenberg Abbey,

my father touches the ornately guilded wall

and smiles:

"I remember tasting the dark beer here,

which the monks have brewed since 1050,

it was the only food I had that day,

simply divine."



Nostalgia warms our hearts

when we visit the beautiful

Austrian city of Salzburg,

remembering the wintry day

we met here for the first time

after the communism fell appart.


The Danube Wachau Valley

is littered with medieval castles

on hilltops

surrounded by grapevines

and picturesque willages,

most of them in ruins,

having never been rebuilt

after the Ottoman Turks destroyed them.

"Austrians have never been keen on refugees,

maybe their castles would look better if they did,"

My father winks at me

and waves at me to climb

the treacherous path

to the rubble of Durnestein.


My reward is the most magnificent view

of the magical Danube river,

my father points at the distance:

"There is Vienna, the city of Dreams,

we used to drive there for a coffee

with your mum,

before the Russians came with tanks."



I catch my breath and take his hand:

"You bought her there the print

by painter Gustav Klimt,

I remember seeing it on the wall

in our living room."



My father nods and his voice shakes

with hidden emotion:

"Can you see your former eastern bloc city

of Bratislava behind it?"



I strains my eyes on a blue blob

wondering

if those murky

and grey block of flats

of the dark

dictatorial decades

of my childhood

have been finally replaced

by the brightly coloured houses,

I always dream to live in.



"How was it to live there,

I often wondered,

thinking constantly of your mum,

of you,

the length love has to go to,

the tautness of a family

stretched like a tendon

across a wide ocean,

the homesickness never leaves you,

now you know..."



"Sad, drab lives built on lies and excuses,"

I said bitterly:

"My teenager's years and those of my friends

spent in hunger for escape..."



"And you did," my father whispers,

"escaped the stupefying comforts of home

and found a measure of contentment in doing so,

but have you found a place to settle and properly enjoy it

on the other side of the world?"



Three days in Bratislava

are three days of wondrous self-discovery

from the 1000-year-old castle

offering expansive views

of our own childhood memories,

father looks over the east

where his parents' old fashioned farm house

used to stand,

now rubbish tip lost in fumes

from nearby factory.

"You know, love happens, like age

or weather,

it's not hard to do,

only endure."



I look over the west,

where

the army of grey block of flats

still stands

having been formed

by history red

in tooth and claw:

"You know,

it was the absence of event,

boredom,

frustration

fear and even ugliness

that made me hungry

for life elsewhere

and it is still there."



We strolled down to the Safarikovo Square,

where my father showed me the old apartment

he used to own

and apparently I was born there

and spent my first few months of my life.

Now there is a fashionable cafe underneath.


My father slowly sips his short black

looking around and realizing suddenly

that his hometown is becoming

just like any other city of the west,

he goes on to complain on living

in an age

where everything has got to be now,

because consumerims is based on change.


"You are getting old," I jokingly chip in.

"And tired of living," there is a melancholy in his voice:

"and wondering whether travel allows us to find ourselves

or confirm our alienation,

our essential loneliness in the world."










More by this Author


Comments 42 comments

Nyamache profile image

Nyamache 4 years ago from Kenya

These pictures are beautiful, I like them. It is true that consumerism is based on change.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

thank you, I believe so too:) You have been very fast, Nyamache, I have just published it, thank you for being my first reader:) B


Borsia profile image

Borsia 4 years ago from Currently, Philippines

Great hub and a great story you really bring it to life.


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

Loved the photos as they told the story. You did a great job on this hub and worthy of a vote ++++ I felt like I was there also.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you girls, very kind of you, happy to have so lovely company on my travels:) B


FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 4 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

You've done it again, capturing and expressing the change in perspective that occurs as you age, and on a topic dear to many. A home lost, a home found, and a home not yet known. May your son grow up to have the wisdom of his mother and grandfather, and learn from your experience, rather than experiencing the loss himself.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

thank you, FitnezzJim, beautifully said...you have opened my present in words and images and found the treasure there...hope it will be useful to you when your time comes:) B


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Beata, this was an amazing journey, thank you for taking us along. FitnezzJim said it perfectly.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

Yes, he did, didn't he? Thank you my fellow hubber for stopping by and getting on my train to travel to foreign lands as well...


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

What a beautiful journey. I felt sadness and joy mingled together. Loved the pictures. Thank you for sharing..


hawaiianodysseus profile image

hawaiianodysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

This hub has everything that comprises humanity--psychology, sociology, familial love, cultures old and contemporary, history, yearning, passion, and so much more. What a beautiful and touching tribute you've written here, Beata, and--oh!--how lovely the photos that complement it with grace and joy. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us!


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, my fellow hubbers, again you have embraced my writing with so much warmth and beautiful praise:) I often feel that my writings stirr something beautiful inside my readers and they open their hearts and minds fully while commenting back:) I am really blessed to have readers like that:)


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Beautiful thoughts and scenery posted here, Beata. I agree with you, some people miss out on the wonders of life because they are much more interested in the mobile phone screen. What a wonderful journey you have shared.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, my fellow teacher and reader:) There is so much beauty to be shared and enjoyed, we just have to find it:) B


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 4 years ago from Central Florida

Beata, this takes my breath away. I'm so happy you were able to spend time with your dad after so many years apart. I can relate. I've done the same. I spent time with my birth father for the first time since I was six, at age 40. We have continued our relationship. I'm ever so thankful.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

thank you, dear bravewarrior for your kind and honest words, that reflect the same experience, we all have choices in life we made, we regret but some of it may be repaired if both sides agree to meet midway:) Relationship is something we need to look after and cherish and bring to life again and again if necessary, because it is something that keeps our hearts beating...keep us alive:)


azure_sky profile image

azure_sky 3 years ago from Somewhere on the Beach, if I am lucky :)

What a wonderful way to honor your Father! I loved your story and all of the beautiful pictures! I am so happy that you found your Father, and were able to make up for lost time! Upped++


annart profile image

annart 3 years ago from SW England

Great story! You always juxtapose the stories and photos so well; I'm always amazed. The gentle way you talk about deep and sometimes disturbing emotions is such a powerful way of writing. You seem to have a great insight into human feelings and dilemmas. Brilliant! Voted up and awesome.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, my fellow hubbers, I have to wait for the right time and the right moment, then the words just flow out to fill the page...it goes from the heart and I am happy you can relate:)


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 3 years ago from Northern California, USA

What a beautiful tribute. The one thing I think is most important is this quote, "You can have all the paraphernalia of modern life -i-pads, mobile phones, but you still don't connect with people if you don't listen the them and share your life with them." Thank you for sharing your life with us.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, Marlene for joining me on my journey, any travel is always better shared in two:) All the best with your travelling and hubbing:)


writinglover profile image

writinglover 3 years ago from Lost...In Poetry

This was an amazing hub to follow. Wonderfully written!


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, writinglover, happy you liked it. All the best from Beata


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

You teach, touch, inspire, entertain all in one breath. This is another awesome piece, and as usual, the pictures are delightful. Thanks!


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, MsDora for visiting me and leaving such beautiful comment, like always:)


TKs view profile image

TKs view 3 years ago from The Middle Path

This is an excellent piece, Beata. Your writing is captivating, as usual. The way you weave expressions of great depth through simple acts is inspiring. I can even see this as short film.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, my fellow hubber, that is very kind of you to say so:) I think in images so it shows in my writing:) B


summerberrie 3 years ago

Love how you interweave your words and photos. Great canvas for conveying your thoughts and feelings. A real treat to read!


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

thank you, my fellow hubber, happy you liked it and all the best with living, loving and writing about it:)


Ed Michaels profile image

Ed Michaels 3 years ago from Texas, USA

Excellent integration of photos and commentary with text, love the way they interweave.


B. A. Williams profile image

B. A. Williams 3 years ago from USA

Such a descriptive voice in your writing. I enjoyed the journey very much, and some places I have been came to mind. Thank you for the travelogue and well written piece of work.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you my fellow hubbers, for all your beautiful comments happy you enjoyed these special personal travels with me...it is alwasy more fun to travel with someone who appreciate you:)


tigerbaby777 profile image

tigerbaby777 3 years ago from Nampa

I so love your hub Beata! Very moving and rich with history.

When I hear of the wars and suffering of Europeans and Eastern Europeans I feel so sad. How can a world allow such?

Voted up and interesting.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, so much, tigerbaby, there is so much sadness and cruelty all around the world....hope we never stop caring:) B


the girls profile image

the girls 3 years ago from Los Angeles, California

Beautiful father-daughter story! The things they touch becomes gold in our heart - the memories, wisdom and love. Blessings to you :-)


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, the girls, yes memories will stay with us and we cherich them just like girls can do:)


LauraD093 profile image

LauraD093 3 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

I loved this hub...the pictures accompanying the piece flowed along with your verses beautifully. Glad you had the opportunity to get to know your father. Mine took off when I was three and we unfortunately never had that chance. Even deep wounds can heal with time and love. Voted up!


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, my dear Laura, by sharing our pain and bliss, we grow and learn so much about ourselves and the world around us...happy my little story was useful in some way to you:) ....B


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Outstanding I just love the way you put all together in poetry and photos thanks for sharing such great talent.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, my fellow hubber you honour me in your kind comment, all the best my fellow countryman from the way back:)


grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 2 years ago from Philippines

What a lovely journey, spent in your partaking in your father's life experience, the history of the places you visited, the knowledge that had to be told in a hurry to catch up with the past. The question asked at the end is rather sad. I hope he finds the answers that he needs that will truly fill his heart and make him feel like an important link in the chain of life.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 2 years ago from Western Australia Author

thank you grand old lady, some questions are never to be answered, unfortunately we often run out of our time before we even dare to ask them...at least he did...he asked:)

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