Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Death of my father

My father, Bohdan Dembinski, died today aged 96. Active to the end. Less than three months ago he was in Warsaw for the 75th anniversary of the Uprising, in which he took part. Below: on 31 July 2019, outside the tenement on ulica Łucka 16 where he'd spent the first three years of his life.

Below: my father laying a single flower at the grave of his brother Józef, who died during the Uprising at the age of 19.

A few weeks ago, my father was telling me of a dream he'd had that night - his brother Józio had survived the war and had made it to London, where he lived with his family. But they worshipped in a different Polish church to the one where we did. One Sunday, my father drove Józio to that other church, dropped him off, then drove back to our church. And then he realised that the clocks had just gone back for autumn and that Józio would be waiting outside that church for an hour! My father was in a quandary - should he drive back to Józio, or just leave him?

This dream felt so real, he said... Maybe in a parallel universe, Józio did survive the Uprising and lived in London after the war, and we'd had an uncle and aunt and cousins.

Somewhere soon, a little boy will be born. He will have anomalous memories, strange familiarities of things of which he cannot know - Poland in the 1920s and 1930s, the Nazi invasion and occupation of Warsaw; the Uprising; post-war London, austerity, the happy years from the 1950s to a new Millennium and then a strange souring of societies... He will want to return to another place and another time.

More posts about my father here.

My father's death leaves me orphaned at the age of 62.

This time two years ago
Recent Jeziorki update

This time three years ago:
Autumn in Jeziorki

This time four years ago:
A driving ban for developers and architects

This time five years ago:
Do you keep coming back, or do you seek the new?

This time six years ago:
In praise of Retro design

This time seven years ago:
First snowfall in Warsaw 

This time eight years ago:
Of cycles, economic and human 

This time nine years ago:
Why didn't I read this before? Grapes of Wrath

This time ten years ago:
Małopolska from the train

This time 11 years ago:
Grading ul. Poloneza


marcin_f said...

I am very sorry to hear this. Please accept my deepest sympathy.

Suzy said...

My condolences Michael. I’ve learned so much about Poland from your father’s story, and I am truly sorry he is no longer with us.

White Horse Pilgrim said...

Please accept my condolences, Michael.

Helena Rymaszewska said...

I am so sad to hear this-your father was an inspiration.He will be hugely missed but leaves so many important memories.
As children of the WW2 displaced Poles,we owe our parents so much.Much love to all the family.

Ian said...

My deepest sympathy to you and your family Michael.

Wilkbury said...

Michael, your father was a great man who had a good life. Please accept my sincere condolences.

Anonymous said...


My very sincere and heartfelt sympathies to you and family at the passing of your father. A great man whose achievements have been and will be kept alive by a great son. Your chronicles are footsteps into the past and signposts for the future legacy.

Thinking of you at this sad and reflective time.

Jonathan Wood

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear of this, he was such a lovely guy.

We shared a gardener, very much a Chancey. Because our mothers died so close together in time and space, through your blog the info was shared. He mentioned a funeral - "It's not ... is it?". And we made contact.

So I ended up loaning your father some gardening equipment and he was kind enough to return it in person, offering (a refused) payment. We had some drinks in the kitchen and chatted for a while. He registered me in his little black book, but I was too taken aback to ask for his number. Something I regretted immediately afterwards.

Very glad to have met him in person.

Smart of him not to tell you of the IHD. It's the way to go. If only I should be so lucky.


Adelaide Dupont said...


Thinking of three-year-old Bohdan. And the house in which he spent his first three years.

In other circumstances - #infantdeterminisme.

And all the things he did to get to here before and after we were able to read about him. And everything he was.

And Jozio - what a dream.

And maybe there is that little boy wandering around.

And yes Chauncey was an awesome gardener - BEING THERE by Kosinski is the text H above me is conjuring/referencing?