"Hello America!" was what Pavel would say every Wednesday morning when I entered his house for my weekly breakfast with Maria. For being married to a woman who speaks English flawlessly and who holds lessons after school at her house every day, it always surprised me that was all he could say in English. Regardless, it was always fun to walk in to the house and have that warm welcome.
However, that is no longer going to happen because Pavel passed away yesterday.
My heart aches for Maria, but I do not want to dwell on the pain of losing a loved one because as much as it hurts, a death should be a time for celebration (in most cases, and in this one in particular)... At least that is what my dad told me when my Mom died. As much as I wouldn't accept that at the time, he was right. Everyone has a life to celebrate no matter how short or long it may have been. And because Pavel's was so long (although not long enough), we have lots to celebrate.
So, when I received the phone call yesterday to tell me he had died, my heart skipped a beat. It skipped a beat because I instantly thought of Maria and what she had told me just last week: if it wasn't for my husband and the after school lessons I do with the children, I would die. But after some tears had been shed I began to think of him and the few stories of moments we shared together... And I found myself laughing and smiling.
She had such a love for her husband (and likewise him for her) that it is impossible to describe it in words. They had been married some 50 plus years, and she still smiled every time he walked in to the room. They would still joke with each other and give each other a kiss as he was leaving the house. He was so dedicated to Maria and was always doing whatever he could to help around the house unless it included cooking.... Because Maria said he didn't even know how to make eggs. I guess it was a good thing he didn't have the job of the housewife or he would have had some problems. :)
I remember one morning when I was visiting Maria was getting me some tea and I was sitting and having a conversation with Pavel. Actually, it wasn't a conversation because I couldn't understand what he was saying because he was speaking in Russian. I kept asking him to speak in Romanian and he would respond, "da" and then continue in Russian. Finally Maria came in to the room and he asked for her assistance to translate what he was saying to me into English. But this is the best part: when he said it to her, he said it in Romanian and I understood everything. All three of us laughed so hard I thought we would never stop. After that he usually remembered to speak in Romanian but every so often Maria would have to remind him that I didn't know Russian.
When we would have conversations (in Romanian) he would always talk about two things. First he would ask me how Ross was feeling (he only met him once but he was sick at the time), and then he would talk about history and politics (which are two things I really do not know much about). But that was his passion. In the Communist times he was actually the mayor of our village for a long time. He was one of those lucky Moldavans that actually got the opportunity to travel and see the world. I can't remember exactly where all he went, but I do know that he went to Cuba... He would talk about it often and how beautiful it was.
There was one morning when I got up super early to catch the 5:45am rutiera. I don't remember where I was going or for what reason, but I remember Pavel getting on the rutiera. He sat next to me and we talked most of the way to his destination which was the hospital in another village for a heart exam. I remember driving past a school and he told me that was where he used to attend school. He had actually lived in another village but there was not a school so he would stay with a host family during the week to attend school and go home on the weekends.
Pavel my no longer be with us in this world but he will never be forgotten by many people. Just like his wife, he touched many lives and made such a positive impact on the people that he met. He was serious yet comical. I will always remember him for how hard working he was and the indescribable love he had for his wife. His heart was so big and his presence on Earth will be missed by many. There is a song (I'm sure you know it) called "Only the Good Die Young". If the good die young then the bad must die old... And if this is the case, then Pavel died young because he was so good.
So, with that being said, I am going to end this post with one last thought. Maria called me this morning and asked me to take some pictures for her. As I asked her how she was, knowing her response would be "sad", I instantly regretted it. I responded with, "that makes two of us... No, about a bazillion". After that I could hear a faint smile in her pain but at least it was something, but it is true. So today I am going to join the entire village in celebrating the life of Pavel... Not just because it is tradition, but because he deserves it. Even on this snowy spring day.