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The One Armed Man From Poland-Inspirational People on The Camino. Tipperary to Santiago

Camino(s) past & future
Frances(15,16,18)CheminduPuy(16) Portuguese(16 VDLP(17)Primitivo(17)Ireland-3000K(18) Norte18Vasco17
The One Armed Man from Poland-Inspirational People on The Camino. TIPPERARY TO SANTIAGO DAY 91:

Walking out of Castojeriz a few days back I met a young couple from Poland and the guy, Gregory, happened to be following my blog. We had a nice chat and I continued on. The following day I passed them again walking to Carrion de Los Condes. Later in the day I walked into the Santa Maria Church Albergue and Gregory was talking to a small, wiry, one armed man. He then came over to me and suggested the man was someone I should talk to as he had read some of my posts on inspirational people on the Camino.

So with Gregory translating I learned that Michael, 68, had started out from Poland on May 15, the same day I started my Camino in Ireland which gave us a connection. He lost his left arm in a car accident at 21 and remained bitter and angry until his 36th year when he accepted his handicap. He then went on to teach himself programming of complex machinery. He has 2 sons and a daughter. He is retired now and wanted to make the pilgrimage to Santiago to thank God for his life. He told me that walking through Germany was easier than France. He spoke a little German, but no French and almost no English. My own struggles on a long Camino helped me to sense how hard this must have been for him.
I did not see him again until a few days later in Mansilla de las Mulas where we shook hands, hugged and exchanged a few words and smiles. Then just west of Leon I saw him crossing a street ahead of me to get water. I saw him show his water bottle to a local man who kindly held the lever down while Michael filled his bottle. I greeted him and invited him to join me in walking to an albergue for the night. He smiled and shook his head yes and we walked. We stopped later to eat insisting I share his food with him and opening his knife and a package of hot dogs took some time. We arrived at the albergue late in the day and noticed that things I take for granted can be a struggle for Michael. Getting his backpack and shoes off. Putting the sheet on his bed, etc.. In the evening we sat together and enjoyed a wonderful communal meal with wine and he was smiling. Other peregrinos have asked me about him thinking he was not friendly. Someone even sensed he was angry. He just wants to be treated as everyone else. In the morning I helped him with making tea and breakfast but he came out of the kitchen with his empty water bottle confused. I took his bottle in and pointed to the floor that you turned the water on and off with a foot pedal. I was then going to fill his bottle but laughed realizing this was a perfect set up for my one armed friend and handed him the bottle. With a happy smile he understood and filled his own bottle. A few minutes later I walked him to the back gate of the albergue and hugged him and wished him a Buen Camino as he was continuing on. “Ultreia Michael”.

Before meeting Michael, my recollection of walking through the middle west of France was that it was a struggle. No more. The patient angel hospitalero at the albergue, Hannah from England, said, “Michael was walking proof of kindness on the Camino”. — in Hospital de Órbigo, Spain.
 

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Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Opportunities to give of oneself come by so infrequently and yet when they do come by and we step in to fill the gap, the payback is enormous. :)
A friend of mine always said, 'Whatever you give, you get back ten-fold.'
The trick is in seizing those opportunities when they present themselves, and not letting them slip away.
 

Ferenjinan

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy- Auvillar ( 2018 )
Lisbon- Santiago (2019)

St. Jean Pied a Port - Finisterre 2008
The One Armed Man from Poland-Inspirational People on The Camino. TIPPERARY TO SANTIAGO DAY 91:

Walking out of Castojeriz a few days back I met a young couple from Poland and the guy, Gregory, happened to be following my blog. We had a nice chat and I continued on. The following day I passed them again walking to Carrion de Los Condes. Later in the day I walked into the Santa Maria Church Albergue and Gregory was talking to a small, wiry, one armed man. He then came over to me and suggested the man was someone I should talk to as he had read some of my posts on inspirational people on the Camino.

So with Gregory translating I learned that Michael, 68, had started out from Poland on May 15, the same day I started my Camino in Ireland which gave us a connection. He lost his left arm in a car accident at 21 and remained bitter and angry until his 36th year when he accepted his handicap. He then went on to teach himself programming of complex machinery. He has 2 sons and a daughter. He is retired now and wanted to make the pilgrimage to Santiago to thank God for his life. He told me that walking through Germany was easier than France. He spoke a little German, but no French and almost no English. My own struggles on a long Camino helped me to sense how hard this must have been for him.
I did not see him again until a few days later in Mansilla de las Mulas where we shook hands, hugged and exchanged a few words and smiles. Then just west of Leon I saw him crossing a street ahead of me to get water. I saw him show his water bottle to a local man who kindly held the lever down while Michael filled his bottle. I greeted him and invited him to join me in walking to an albergue for the night. He smiled and shook his head yes and we walked. We stopped later to eat insisting I share his food with him and opening his knife and a package of hot dogs took some time. We arrived at the albergue late in the day and noticed that things I take for granted can be a struggle for Michael. Getting his backpack and shoes off. Putting the sheet on his bed, etc.. In the evening we sat together and enjoyed a wonderful communal meal with wine and he was smiling. Other peregrinos have asked me about him thinking he was not friendly. Someone even sensed he was angry. He just wants to be treated as everyone else. In the morning I helped him with making tea and breakfast but he came out of the kitchen with his empty water bottle confused. I took his bottle in and pointed to the floor that you turned the water on and off with a foot pedal. I was then going to fill his bottle but laughed realizing this was a perfect set up for my one armed friend and handed him the bottle. With a happy smile he understood and filled his own bottle. A few minutes later I walked him to the back gate of the albergue and hugged him and wished him a Buen Camino as he was continuing on. “Ultreia Michael”.

Before meeting Michael, my recollection of walking through the middle west of France was that it was a struggle. No more. The patient angel hospitalero at the albergue, Hannah from England, said, “Michael was walking proof of kindness on the Camino”. — in Hospital de Órbigo, Spain.
Yes, we who 'are temporarily able bodied' or more or less so, should remember how lucky we are. And always try to help each other.
 

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