Strolling singer Tia wins Pauls heart with a song
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Chronology of Events
Wednesday, December 14
It is a comfort to be back here. I got so little out of all that running around the city with Valerie. There is a heavy mood here now, which certainly fits the way I feel.
With Valerie sure to find me at the Excelsior, I've rented pensione accommodations in an ancient building, and have lots of space
It's actually much larger than my suite at the Excelsior. That will help me to think, and work against the ever-increasing claustrophobia.
Over a long call with Kate about everything, she kept asking if I was all right in so many ways that I started to become annoyed. How does she know?
I didn't tell her that yesterday my feet started to redden, there were slight vertical lines before my eyes and my elbows felt funny. It all came on so suddenly, not like I ever expected.
The claustrophobia was more pronounced last night too, and though I didn't feel well, had to get out, and went to a café down the street.
There was a girl there - a nymph - with her guitar - and I felt better as soon as she started to sing. Such a sweet person, I talked a while with her by a fountain, and realized that all the end symptoms had vanished.
All night I dreamed of her, and for the first night since I went to Africa, there were no elephants haunting me.
Paul experiences the known end symptoms of his disease begin, but his spirits are heartened by a girl singing in a cafe.
Thursday, December 15
I went on healthy for so much longer than ever expected that in the back of my mind, I started to believe it wasn't going to happen. But now that the end is started, I have to map out a plan while I'm still mobile.
Make the most of the good days left. Organize the wedding, but tell Kate at the last possible date - maybe ask her to come for Christmas, and tell her then.
She is on edge herself with all the business pressure, and told me today that Molly has set her wedding for January 7. Like Odette's and Armand's passing, then mine, these burdens on Kate stare at her from afar, then become reality.
Last night when I saw the girl - Tia - I felt so much better in her company, and believe that St. Jude has sent her to me, to help through the difficult days ahead.
Perhaps she is a spirit. She certainly gives the appearance of a sprite, and I feel I must have her by me.
Despite being prepared, Paul is shocked by his sudden decline almost exactly as one of the first doctors predicted. His only consolation is the strolling singer Tia.
Staying at a roomy pensione, Paul makes careful plans for the days he has left, deciding not to tell Kate how ill he is until she arrives for Christmas - and their wedding.
Friday, December 16
Went to the Vatican today, and set the wedding for December 28, spending a long time in prayer in a small chapel. The Monsigneur introduced me to Father James, and he has offered me all the time I need while in Rome. I am not alone.
The concierge here, Luigi, is also very simpatico. Maybe he will be my last friend. I didn't see Tia last night, and instead of the symptoms lessening in the evening, they were worse - still not keeping me from doing anything - but there.
Saturday, December 17
No sign of Tia in the cafes again last night. Perhaps she was only a spirit after all, but she was with me in my dreams.
I am trying to take comfort from my hours in the small chapel, praying, meditating, and treasuring all the beautiful times I've been granted in the last year and a half.
When I asked Kate if she'd like to come here for a week at Christmas, she said she would come right now. How much I want that, but tried to be casual about waiting …. with all her work, but I feel sure that she knows.
Sunday, December 18
Every day the symptoms are a little worse - never absent now. No Tia last night either, and I started having elephant dreams again.
Kate revealed today that Molly called saying she wants to honeymoon in MONTENARO. Knowing her sister hasn't the money, as well as glad to finance a wedding trip, Kate offered a gift of the place we stayed in the Bahamas.
But Molly said that Alex was paying. This is the guy who seemed to have empty pockets only last week.
Paul's contact at the Vatican puts him in contact with a priest who is constantly at his disposal for support. The wedding is arranged for December 28.
The concierge at Paul's pensione is also kindly.
The symptoms grow worse. and the singer has disappeared. Kate reveals that Alex has come into money, a clear sign he betrayed Paul's prognosis to Valerie's father for a payment.
Monday, December 19
Received a letter from Valerie forwarded from the Excelsior, saying that she couldn't bear our love affair to end as it did. The phrase riled me before reading on, but my temper was flaming by the end.
Valerie said she knew about my illness, but would always be there for me, and I softened a moment, sure the thought was well meant.
Then she added that perhaps things had ended the way they needed to, and it was fate that brought my friend to the safari office at the same time her father had checked out.
So there is Alex's source of money to stay at Montenaro. How could he! But then it was I who shouted the knowledge to him in a fit of pique.
The sun came out in Rome today. I saw dear Tia dressed up as the aristocrat she is, coming out of a taxi, and guessed that she's really an eccentric rich girl who likes to play the street urchin. She says she's become engaged, and I am happy for her.
Had a bit of a weakness, and went back to the pensione, then feeling much better, went to the address Tia gave the taxi, and found it to be a pawn shop where she handed in a painting.
The broker admitted that he only took it because of Tia's charm. Redeeming a brooch she had pawned earlier, I took it with me to the café, and she was there!
But when I gave her the brooch and some money, she was upset that I'd followed her, but offered a kiss in appreciation.
I thought of Kate, but when Tia accused me of having no feelings, I kissed her with the passion of the drowning man I am, as if she were the only source of air.
Paul sees the singer in the street, elegantly dressed, confirming for him her stories that she was a wealthy girl who only sang in cafes for fun.
But later he finds that she was out pawning a painting which the broker only bought because of her charm. Paul redeems a brooch she'd pawned, but when he gives it to her she is angry that he was spying on her.
Tuesday, December 20
Know I'm in denial that the symptoms are getting worse, and have tried to keep my mind on other things like finding something about Tia, and the father she calls Dieter.
Went to an art dealer about the painting, and was confused to find that Dieter was just the sound for the initials of D. Terrance Randall, a rich American but “lost soul” with whom Tia is living.
When I felt better I went to see Randall - puzzled by the shabby place he and Tia are living. He knew of me, and looked out the window to see my white horse, wondering where my plumed hat was.
I was glad Tia thought and spoke kindly of me, but appalled by Randall, whose self-pitying discourse was disgusting.
Told him to set Tia free, then really lost my temper, and started to attack him, suddenly realizing what I was doing, and leaving quickly in horror over my actions.
Went to the chapel to pray for strength and talked to Father James for a long while about Tia. He was very understanding.
But he stressed the need for moderation in my words and actions, and also pointed to the danger of interfering in strangers' lives - a situation I only knew a little about. I came away feeling more rational and soothed.
But that night, when Tia came to my pensione, I proved that all the psychological symptoms exhibited over the last year have now gone into the red zone.
She spoke on and on about her father, and how he needed to go to a sunny place for his health. All the wise words from this afternoon flew from my head, and I snidely asked Tia if she lied as much to her “father” as she does to me.
She sincerely spoke of how much help Randall needed, but I reciprocated acidly that she probably didn't know the difference between fantasy and deceit.
Then I actually grabbed and shook this person I love, accusing her of being incapable of speaking the truth.
Tia broke into sobs about coming from the gutter where she expected to wind up, and my attempt to make up for what I caused was hopeless. She hates me now for extracting this bitter information from her.
And I had to wonder about myself. Could I do the same thing to Kate if my mind snapped and I started accusing her of infidelity with Armand? I shudder to consider the possibility, and think I must leave Rome.
Wednesday, December 21
Luigi urged me to stay, and feeling much more charitable towards Randall as well as Tia, I went out and bought some presents for them - but found their room empty - everything gone - when I got there.
Father James tried to be helpful, but I know that I've gone beyond reason now.
Paul discovers that the painter whom he believed to be her father Dieter is not, but a American "lost soul" whose initials are DTR.
Going to their rhumble oom, he find a sarcastic and self-pitying alcoholic who comes from a wealthy family he's rejected. Paul reacts angrily, tells the man to leave Tia, and begins to attack him physically before realizing what he's doing - the irrational behavior he's experienced since learning the diagnosis not completely out of control.
He acts the same way with Tia when seeing the that night.
Full of regret Paul goes to their room with Christmas presents, but Tia and the artist are gone.
Thursday, December 22
Today I received a letter from Tia. She even used words similar to Valerie's - that she didn't want things to end between us as they had.
Tia wrote that she's been married to Randall for three years - but in name only, and that now he has gone back to America - to fulfill what I asked him to do.
He was her whole life, and she cared for him with all her heart. What have I done?
I gave Luigi the presents meant for the Randals, and told him I would not pursue Tia. I need Kate now to help me out of the disaster I've created, and probably should take no action now beyond the most essential.
Friday, December 23
Thank goodness the symptoms have held off, and I was able to hide them from Kate when she got off the plane, but we were only alone together an hour when she spotted them all.
I admitted the truth, and told her I'd arranged our marriage for next Wednesday. The wedding that will actually be a funeral ceremony. I saw something in Kate snap, but we embraced then, and stayed that way for a long time.
Saturday, December 24
The world of Armand's Rome palazzo is a million miles from my little pensione, but we are occupying only a small part of it - our room and the beautiful medieval chapel.
I told Katie more about Tia, disclosing everything, and could see in her eyes that she was horrified by my actions, though she maintained a calm and loving expression, probably as devastated by what I was capable of as much as what I did to Tia.
Kate asked what I was feeling now, and I broke down completely, saying I only wanted to undo what I had done, having surely condemned Tia to a life of prostitution.
We were suddenly like Randall and Tia, Kate comforting me like a mother, saying that everything would be made right. She promised me, and I sobbed in her lap, this incredibly fragile woman who had withstood so much, still giving solace to a lost soul like me.
And weren't those the words the art dealer used to describe Randall?
Kate is getting ready now, and I am hoping that Midnight Mass in St. Peter's will give me a little strength to at least be a companion to Kate in the days we have left.
Paul receives a letter from Tia, explaining that she and DTR have been married for three years. The concierge urges Paul to contact Tia, but he doedn't trust himself any longer, and gives the concierge the presents meant for the couple.
Kate arrives in Rome for their wedding, and Paul admits that the symptoms are in an advanced state.
Paul and Kate move to Armand de Martignac's fabulous Roman palazzo, but occupy only the master bedroom and the chapel.
He tells her what a mess he'd made of Tia's life, herf husband now gone back to America, and Kate tries to find a solution to comfort him.
Sunday, December 25
I gave myself up to God, and did feel the strength to make this a sweet day for the two of us. We talked to many dear friends on the phone, but only to Pete and June did we divulge our plans for Wednesday.
Monday, December 26
Telling me that two of the servants had been watching over Tia - who'd moved but continued to sing in the cafes, Kate suggested that we go to one and bring her back here.
I was dubious, but we found Tia easily, and she came quite willingly to the palazzo. Kate explained that we were marrying in two days, and that I wanted to make up for some of the harm I'd caused her.
Besides a scholarship and comfortable home above a shop, Kate and I offered Tia the staffed fashion boutique on the ground floor and cash in the bank. It wouldn't make up for the absence of Randall, but it was a start.
The gift was from the two of us - what money I have left minus something to keep me going in a subdued existence, the rest from Kate - very impressed with Tia who appeared to tell no lie today.
Thanks to my dear one, the girl's greatest fantasies had been superceded. Before I go into seclusion, I must work on the rest of the gift by having a good meeting with Randall.
Tuesday, December 27
Our wedding eve, and I got Kate to agree to my proposal. The symptoms are upon me, and I obviously don't have much time left.
I don't want her to have to watch me disintegrate. She suffered enough as Armand did, and my plan is to go away, and make sure she is advised when I have died.
We spent all the day in the deep spiritual atmosphere of Armand's chapel which has given solace and inspiration to centuries of people, and Kate finally managed to accept my wishes.
Wednesday, December 28
In the Basilica di s Giovani in Laterano Kathryn Maria became my wife today.
Wednesday - Monday, December 28 - January 2
A time filled with inevitable sadness, but a time together.
En route to Boston
Tuesday, January 3
I am truly alone now, but pray for strength and moderation to complete one of my last duties.
Kate and Paul talk to friends on Christmas day.
Kate's staff in Rome have been keeping an eye on Tia, and they bring her to the palazzo when Paul offers her a building with dress shop on the lower floor and apartment above, plus a scholarship and money in the bank. It is a gift from himself and Kate, using up almost all the money he has left.
Paul secures Kate's agreement they will part in Rome, not wanting her to have to live through the dying of another love. He has made complex plans to reach his destination withou her finding him.
The couple are married three days after Christmas.
After a short honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast, Kate and Paul part.
Paul fies to Boston to try and repair the damage he caused to the marriage of Tia and Randall
Wednesday, January 4
Concentrating on all the spiritual inspiration I'd had in the last weeks getting me through, I found no special strength was needed.
Terry, as he asked me to call him, was the soul of normality, though ever witty, his self-deprecation not as saturated with self pity as when we met in Rome.
He's still drying out, but has gone through the worst, and come out the other side. I told him what we'd done for Tia, but said I realized only when he was gone, how devoted she was to him, how deep her love is.
He replied that when drink has the upper hand, we can know things but not appreciate them, and explained that this was the first time he'd ever attempted to do anything about his liking for a drink, and his doctors were encouraging.
“I wasn't always like this,” he insisted, saying that he'd held down an important job in the family firm until a midlife crisis at 35 started him tramping around the world until he settled in Rome.
“Guess we have something beside Tia in common,” I replied, and poured out my story to someone who would have become a good friend if I weren't about to leave this life.
As it was we parted brothers, Terry promising to give Tia everything he could to make up for the bad years.
Now, I will take the most circuitious route possible to get to my destination. Were I in Kate's position, I would try to know where my beloved disappeared to, and I don't want that to happen.
This is the end of the Run For Your Life Journal, but not the end of the story.
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Paul meets DTR, and find him to be a pleasantf person, now going through an alcohol rehabilitation program. With Paul's encouragement, he plans to see Tia when he is completely recovered.
Paul then mades his way for the Pacific Coast of Mexico where he's made arrangements to spend his last days.