For My Friend, Paolo

Yesterday I returned home from an afternoon with the family to find this message in my inbox. It hurt me so bad to read these words:

Dear Friends,

This morning our Paolo lost his battle with cancer. Despite his heroic fight and the unrelenting care of the doctors in Rome, the progress of this cancer could not be stopped.  The sorrow and sadness that surrounds us simply cannot be described .  Paolo was with family and friends and showered with love in these final days.  Those of you who have lost someone to cancer can understand the roller coaster feelings ; one day hope and encouragement and two days later disappointment and uncertainty. Paolo’s strength and dignity throughout this horrific period was nothing less than inspiring.  The extreme pain and complete lack of mobility for months was very hard on him.  He never gave up hope and from his bedside he attended to program details, worried about the students having a good experience and constantly reassuring us that we could do what needed to be done. He slowly lost his voice but kept his sense of humor right up to the end;  joking with the nurses and insisting that they learn some Tuscan expressions and quizzing them on art history.

The world without our Captain Paolo is a different place; it seems emptier, more quiet, less interesting.  It will not be easy to move forward without him; his insight and guidance and the beautiful way he shared Italy without exclusion of anyone gave the program its heart. 

Paolo’s forty years of dedication, passion and hard work will be honored  by continuing the program as best we can.  His commitment to make the international experience for students unique and to create an environment that fostered friendship was shared by all who knew Paolo.   

Thank you so much for your emails,your calls, messages, cards, and photos; they made the dark days brighter.

I leave you with something of Paolo;

 This journey of my life gave me much joy

I was blessed with good friends that helped me understand more

The people and moments that colored my world will remain with me always

 Forza!

 Love Sharon and the whole Barucchieri family

 

You’d probably ask what this has to do with bikes or Crisp Titanium and…well.. it has everything to do with it. Without Paolo and his generous family at the Italart program at Santa Chiara in Castiglion Fiorentino, there would be no Crisp Titanium. Way back when as I was finishing school and had nowhere to go, Paolo and his wonderful wife, Sharon, gave me a place to come to; a new world to explore. He gave me food and shelter when I didn’t know where to turn. He gave me adventure, thought-provoking discussions, wonderful memories and sadness. He gave me a chance to find what I had inside myself and what I could give the world through self-expression. And he wanted nothing in return. He gave me a home.

And if you really think about it, I would have never returned to Italy nearly 20 years ago to ride and race my bikes. I never would have met my wife, had two beautiful kids..and the list goes on and on. But owing my life to an individual like Paolo is not what he was about. He was about giving, not taking. He was about sharing the essence of life. I feel so fortunate to have been at the receiving end of his teachings and to have experienced just a  fraction of what he was about.

If you ask any of his former students, colleagues, family and friends, you’ll find that the overwhelming majority of those who came in contact with Paolo, even for brief moments, would talk about his intensity, love, and passion for life and for the connection he had to the historical past as well as the moment we currently occupy. He could blend the two seamlessly and make sense of it all. Just when you would think that there was no connection between Etruscan ruins and a laptop computer, Paolo would make you think again. I’ve never met anyone who could propagate thought like Paolo.

He had a way of connecting the dots when there seemed to be no connection. Many of my friends and fellow students tried to imitate his passion but we couldn’t even come close, no matter how much we studied or travelled the world. He was a gift, our gift.

For me, he inspired to go beyond the superficial. To break into the surface and go down into the emotional, even the metaphysical. His teachings of 20 years ago still give me great challenges and meaning to my everyday life; something that few have done in my 41 years.

He taught me the importance of art and architecture, of history. But he contrasted this with the necessity of “manualita’”, the art of the artisan and the expression of self through the built environment (Paolo was himself and accomplished and exceptional artist and craftsman).

He taught me the immortality of a gesture and the built form as well as thought and feeling while in his passing he showed me the significance of the moment and the small space we occupy on this earth. He taught me to embrace the now.

Paolo has left us in the physical world, and I’m just starting to grasp what he meant by the metaphysical.  When I look into the eyes of my wife and baby girls, and those who I care for the most, I’ll hold that embrace a few seconds longer, give the girls and extra kiss on the forehead at bedtime, and embrace the joy that has been Paolo’s gift to me. To us.

I know if he were here watching me sob as I write this, he wouldn’t want me to dwell on his passing. He’s say something like, “Marco, you know without death, there is no meaning of life.” And then he’d take me down the street where he’d offer me a cappuccino at Piera’s bar, and life would be good, just for another moment.

Ciao Paolo.

 

 

 

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  1. Marco Barucchieri Reply

    Dear Mark,
    Thank you for such a beautifully written summary of what Paolo meant for you. It is a heavy loss to bear, but seeing the immense outpouring of affection in the last day has warmed my heart, and reminded me that his is a life to celebrate and honor by continuing in his example: to love, tolerate, explore, share and bring passion even to the most mundane tasks of daily life…
    I truly appreciate your words.
    Grazie di cuore,
    Marco

    • Peggy Donahue Reply

      I sure did love your Dad! You may not remember me at all, or perhaps you have a vague recollection of who I am…. I knew your Dad many long years ago… you, as well! You would come up to my cabin in Wild Basin and we would visit you down in Greeley…. My man, Mike Donahue, also succumbed to a cancer.. 6+ years ago. I feel your pain and the heartache and I’m sending lots of love your way…. Once your Dad came up here to our cabin to stay overnight and we would all climb Longs Peak the following day. He was up at 2 a.m. cooking LIVER and onions, making me sick with the smell of it… at any hour, almost, but particularly at this hour and prior to undertaking an ascent of a 14,256 ft. peak! What a character! Passionate! Funny! Fun~! Intelligent! He will be greatly missed by all who knew him! xoxoxoxoxo

  2. Paola Barucchieri Guild Reply

    Beautiful words to describe a beautiful spirit and life. Thank you for the wonderful love and thoughts. ~ Paola

  3. Miguel Reply

    As a Crisp Ti follower, I have been regularly checking for updates in this blog and elsewhere in the web. This is something I have done for some long time. Posts use to be, to a greater or lesser degree, related to the cycling world in its different aspects. I can say that this is the real first time I find a Crisp´s post far, far away of what bicycles are. And Mark´s words in this post go beyond feelings and experiences, but about fondness and precious love. And that´s good.
    I just can say all the Crisp and Paolo´s families must feel very fortunate and grateful to live for having had the opportunity to share the joy of life together with Paolo.
    Pleased accept my deepest sympathies to all you.
    Con todo mi cariño.
    Miguel.

  4. Elisa Barucchieri Reply

    Dear Mark,
    I can only repeat what Marco and Paola wrote with the perfect words I cannot find at the moment, and thank you again.
    To hear what he meant to others, to feel this unity reaching out through space and time , connecting so many people, makes all the pain so worth the bundle of beauty, love and emotions that life is.
    Your words are so clear
    The challenge is on, we all have some more space within to open up more, love life more, take more care, be a bit deeper!

    So cheers to life, and thank you

    let’s all meet at Piera’s for yet another cappuccino

  5. Donna Miles Reply

    Clearly I was absent (troppo vino?) the day Paolo taught the class on carrying on without him and I did not pass the class on mountain climbing, but Paolo taught me more than any single person in my entire life, with the possible exception of my mother. He was a dear, dear friend to Gino and me for forty years, and we miss him already terribly! It seems to me now as though he always gave to everyone else and I question what he ever got from any of us. He was a born leader and more knowledgeable about art than anyone I’ve ever met.

    Ci vediamo dal’altra parte! Prepara tutto per noi!

  6. Chelsea Ward Reply

    I’ve had this open in my web browser since you posted it. I keep revisiting and reading it over again. Well said Mark. This is very inspiring and very comforting at the same time, thank you.

  7. darren Reply

    Thanks for reading. I just keep thinking that, even in his passing, Paolo is still giving us lessons to keep with us forever. Let’s continue to be open to them. Thanks everyone, thanks Paolo.
    -dmc

  8. Darlene Crisp Reply

    What a beautiful tribute. And well you have learned his teachings.
    As Kahlil Gibran said in The Prophet :
    “Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
    And he answered:
    …The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
    Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
    And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
    When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
    When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
    Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
    But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
    Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is
    asleep upon your bed.”

    I am proud to call you my son.

    • Peggy Donahue Reply

      Wow! Tears are flowing with the sharing of those beautiful words! Thank-you so very much for bringing them to this space ~namaste~

  9. Chip Patterson Reply

    Paolo taught me how to see Picasso and the bones under the flesh of the human body. He gave me the ability to look into a great building and see why it was and how it came to be. Paolo gave me Italy and all the beauty it had to offer. I will always be deeply grateful for the time spent with Paolo. He showed me how to see the physical manifestation of the “metaphysical”. He will always be in my heart.

    Ciao Paolo!

  10. Brett Morris Reply

    Paolo was a Tuscan through and through. He was proud, refined and yet simple and caring. I remember he always looked good … never a hair out of place and always perfect posture. It’s been 15 years or more since I saw Paolo, but he’s certainly unforgettable. I remember he and Brione flying that ridiculous plane right by our window and screaming like crazed Neopolitans after a soccer match. I remember one of his brothers giving my mom a ride back from the train station on the way to his own mom’s funeral. I remember the mad house that was Santa Chiara. I had no idea what was really going on back then … but I remember Paolo was always sharing his learning and his heart. I’m grateful and I will remember. Happy birthday Marco.

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