You meet a lot of people – and all different kinds – when you do what we do for a living. Roman was a guy we met over 7 years ago when he joined our vineyard crew. And of all the people we have met, Roman was without a doubt the gentlest soul among them. It has been a year since Roman died following a bee sting to the face in the vineyard while working in the Cabernet Franc – from which we make our beautiful wine, Gaia. He didn’t die of the bee sting. That is just what sent him home from the vineyard that July afternoon. He was allergic and his face got really swollen…but he continued to work. Jules saw him and immediately told him to get out of the heat and get some rest. He did so – reluctantly. Roman, like so many of his fellow workers, had a remarkable work ethic. They take uncommon pride in the job they do, no matter what job it is, and no matter how menial you and I might consider it to be. He wasn’t very tall and was slightly built. He always wore long, baggy sleeves and long, baggy pants, no matter how hot it got. And his favorite baseball hat had a bottle cap opener built into the bill.
But as with
so many workers, of every color of collar, working was his life. That, and drinking after he was done
working. He had been hospitalized with
some frequency over the years with liver related problems. We all tried our best to help him, and,
absent that, to give him jobs that would not be so taxing on his body. Neither effort met with much success –
working hard is what gave him his self-worth and a drink afterwards was his
reward for having put in a hard day.
evening, when Jules sent him home, he put ice on his face and began to
drink. That night, his liver finally
gave out. It must have been an extremely
painful way to die. With the help of his
brother, we sent Roman’s body back home to be buried in the town where he was
born…to be with his family.
He was only
46. He looked an awful lot older than
I saw Roman just
about every day for the 7 or so years he was with us. He was always smiling. I think I said all of about 10 or 12 words to
him that entire time. It was
combinations of the same 10 or 12 words over and over and over, every time I
saw him though out the day…something like:
“Si, mucha lluvia”
“Si, muy bonita”
“Si, si mucho”
over and over. Until about a year ago…
Jules and I
still think about him a lot, especially, of course, when we are working in the
vineyard. He was a good fella and the
hardest worker I think I shall ever meet.
And to Roman, there could be no greater compliment.
gracias por todos el buen trabajo, mi hermano….”