Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pierre...The Homeless Man at the Fountain of Trevi

My good friend works in a gourmet food store next to the Fountain of Trevi. He has bilateral cochlear implants and the heart of a Romantic Roman Gladiator. He wakes up at 5 am. every morning to go to work and every now and then sends me photos of a spectacular sunrise over Rome or some mouth-watering pasta dish.
The other day he told me a beautiful story...

I'd like to tell you the story of Pierre, a homeless man who walks the streets of Rome. I see him almost every day. He must be about 65 years old. He's thin, has bright eyes and has always sparked my interest, because I always see him reading really big books, while sitting on the steps of a church or theater. 

He always has a book in his hands.

Today I got to work early, so I sat on the steps of a nearby theater. A short time later, Pierre arrived, said hello and sat down.
I said, "Pierre, what are you reading?"
He told me to come closer and showed me a thick book in French.
I told him, "I don't know French, and you?"
He proudly replied, "I'm French."
I asked him "How did you end up in Rome, France is pretty far from here."
He looked at me with such sadness in his eyes, that I was immediately sorry to have asked the question.
He straightened himself up a bit, and in perfect Italian began telling me his story.
Pierre said, "Many years ago I was a professor at Sorbonne University. I fell in love with a student not much younger than myself. A few months later we became husband and wife. We were completely in love. We were so happy together, even though the only thing missing was a baby to complete our love. But I didn't need to have everything, I had her and her love. We were happy for twenty years.
Then, she got sick, with that horrifying disease, I can barely say it's name...cancer....they told us she had only a few months to live. Her dream was to travel around Europe. So, I decided to sell everything, every single thing we possessed and we began to travel. We visited France, Germany, Italy, Holland, all of the places that she dreamed of seeing.
But every day she got sicker and sicker and day by day I started losing her.
But she was happy, happy to have me by her side and to travel. In the meantime, our money was dwindling...I spent the last of it on a beautiful funeral worthy of the woman I loved.
Nothing was the same for me after she left me...she took me with her when she died.
I began wandering through Europe, and I ended up here. Reading helps me to feel less alone and to have her always with me."

My friend and Pierre have become friends, and he has begun bringing him books to read. 

Pierre is not his real name, but in the end..."What's in a name?"


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