Don W.

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Don W.

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Don W. was described by some as a whiskey priest, meaning one who had been drawn to the priesthood by the easy life rather than any true conviction. A rumour which had gone around at one time was that he had been famed for having once broken an ankle whilst jumping from an upstairs bedroom window on the arrival home of an absent husband. I’ve no idea whether any of this were true or not, obviously gossip in a Swiss mountain village was often vibrant, but nonetheless Don W. was a lively old man despite his advancing years, quick witted even if slowly losing his sight and walking with difficulty.

When I asked him to baptize our daughter Connie, he arranged to visit us at our house in the hillside nearby. Once again, as with the previous Catholic priests, my not being a member of any faith seemed problematic, but he then conceded since it was my daughter he was to Christen not me. The thing of that day that remains in my memory was of him, after his various musings about the Catholic Church and life in general, when asked if he wanted a cup of tea or coffee or anything as refreshment he refused politely saying that he had to go due to other church commitments, but then when I asked whether he would have a glass of grappa he quickly accepted gratefully and stayed to chat animatedly for another hour and a half.

Notwithstanding, he did give us a thoroughly enjoyable and meaningful ceremony for our daughter, and on getting to know him better in the coming months I came to like him immensely. He was a wise and generous old man, who did much for the community in general and in particularly for the elderly until his death a few years later. Polarizing opinion to the very end.

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