Monday, May 29, 2017

Good Remembrances of Things Past

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with quilting and contains not-so-great photos

The American Cemetery in Normandy
My tradition on Memorial Day was to call my dad and brightly chirp "I remember you!"  He was one of the lucky World Ward II vets who returned home.  Just recently in Normandy and last year at the American Cemetery in Luxembourg and in so many other ways, we are reminded of the greatest generation and how so many lives were sacrificed.  So very sobering.  The purpose of our recent trip to France was so that John could see the Normandy Beaches and for me to see the Bayeux Tapestry.  But the beauty of this trip was that it was a constant reminder of our trip to France with my parents in 2003.

My dad and Claudia at a private salon, 2003
My parents were lucky in that they lived long and full lives.  But their decline at the end was difficult to witness.  They went from vibrancy and independence and lives of service to total dependence for daily living. After they died within 6 moths of one another, I remember asking someone how long would it take to get the images of their end days out of my mind and be able to remember them as they once were.  And this recent trip to Paris?  It has made me remember they as they were.  I felt like they were on this trip with John and me - in the best of ways.  There was a srolling accordionist at one of our dinners in Paris, and he played my dad's entire repertoire, with the exception of a tango, which I requested and he played.

Evening river cruise on the Seine

In 2003 my dad had a chance to accompany Claudia Hommel, a Chicago-based singer who specialized in French songs. I celebrated my 53rd birthday on the flight over to Paris in 2003.  This means John was 63, my mom was 75, and my dad was 78.  And to put these numbers into perspective, I am now 67 and John is 77.

My mom was so frail and so small and so blank for her last years.  So to see this picture from our trip 14 years ago is joyous.  We were in the Luxembourg Gardens having hot chocolate while my dad and John went to the Louvre.  When John and I arrived in Paris two weeks ago, our hotel room wasn't ready so we went out for a walk - and there we were:  right by the Luxembourg Gardens.

A truly memorable event on the 2003 trip was returning to Paris from the Dordogne on a train that broke down.  We had to wait 45 minutes for another engine.  So what did my dad and Claudia do?  They performed.  A few left the train car, but several more came in.  And my mom muttered - with Claudia translating for those around her -  "Ive been married to this man for over 50 years.  He's played gypsy funerals, Easter Bunny breakfasts, wedding, bar mitzvahs, but this is the first broken train. "

We spent an afternoon at Giverney, and it was delightful.  There is beauty in an autumn garden, and I recall that we pretty much had the gardens and Monet's house to ourselves.  But just recently in Giverney we encountered a mob scene.  Granted, the gardens were gorgeous and in full bloom.  And everyone was there.  90% of them had selfie sticks - pretty annoying.  What a contrast from October 2003 to May 2017!

The last time I saw Paris?  It was good.  Very good.

1 comment:

Jennifer Lowe said...

What lovely memories of your parents! I'm glad you were able to take the trip with them and again with just John.