Stained glass, candles and white vestments lit the church. Scripture gave comfort, the homily consolation, the eulogy honor to Stan and to the families who loved him. The last hymn ended quietly. The priest sprinkled Stan's shrouded casket with holy water and the pallbearers bore him down the aisle toward the church's stately doors. The mourners followed tentatively.
As all were about to leave in silence, the hushed piano of the final hymn began again, its plaintive song muffled by the voids of the high church. The music was tasteful, respectful, quick and full of life. You had to listen carefully to tell that it was a polka.
The music that was Stan filled the sanctuary. Here was the young man who played his accordion with Paul and Mishka in a polka band. Here was the troubled soul who bumbled and complained but who always had something good to say about his wife and his family to his friends. Here was Stan, who used his music to relate, to give life meaning, to get by, to survive the pain of hard work, divorce and alcoholism, to outlast family dissolution, to celebrate reconciliation with his children, to revel in his new marriage. The piano recapped the verse and bounced into another chorus. "It's just another polka..." step - together, "Just another polka..." Hope, escape, struggle, triumph, the sounds Stan had finally learned to make without apology, without playing a note or singing a word flowed from who he was.