Our very dear friend who lives across the road form us on Utah Beach had a very nasty fall in the bank in Ste Mere Eglise today. Particularly annoying as it was the very first time she was out without anyone – her first taste of independence since her husband died just over 6 years ago.
I’ll call her H for this story.
She’s coming up to 80 and has the heart of an 18 year old… cut for Coco Chanel in Paris. During the war was one of those refugees you see in the movies fleeing from Paris being strafed by enemy aircraft, her father was in the resistance so she didn’t see him for years.
Then after the war she met and married her husband, he also was in the rag trade, he was a stylist. In 1949 some plots of land came for sale by the government on the dunes of Utah Beach – her husband and his brother ( who owned a boulangerie in Paris), bought 2 plots side by side, between them all they built 2 little bungalows with a view of the sea. Then the government decided to sell more plots in 1949 … in front of them… blocking the sea view! They were never bitter – they way they saw it was it stopped the wind off the sea.
We bought our house 7 or 8 years ago (one of those that blocked her view) but didn’t meet her right away as she was nursing her terminally ill husband in their home in Paris. He died and she got herself a Jack Russell puppy and moved out lock stock and barrel to Utah Beach much to the horror of her children all in Paris. I asked her one day why… all her grand children were there why come to Utah especially as she doesn’t drive and the nearest shop is 10 kms away. She explained to me the flat in Paris was rented, she & her husband built this house by hand and he made the English garden all around the property, it was the first time in her life she has total independence… no one telling her what to do yet she felt close to him there.
Her daughters were and still are pretty furious with her, but the neighbour across the way was happy to run her round to the shops etc. so it was all sorted in a practical way. I walked her little Jack every time I cam up to the beach and if she needed me I am happy to run her round too. Then the neighbour who did all the driving had a brain clot so isn’t able to drive like she did and we live inland a bit. Ellen another friend found a service where you can call and they send a bus or car to collect you – now this stupid accident.
The daughters are due in from Paris on Saturday – no doubt she’ll be whisked off there to be told off and ‘Mother how could you’ … I do hope this isn’t the end of her independence.
Anyhow we got a call from the other neighbour so we have her Jack with us – 5 dogs in the house, tonight we probably have the 3 Jacks in the bed with us… Jacks adore being under the covers!!
Urenne is bit anxious as she has never had a night away from her mum, all being well I will ‘do’ as the deuxiem maman for the time being.
Now I must get my head down and do all the paperwork for the forthcoming years rentals and the tax returns… I have tried every day this week and just had interruption after interruption – yesterday Wednesday I gave up even attempting to do anything as the children are off school on Wednesdays – we had a succession of local kids coming round for help with English lessons from me and Mike to help build rockets! How can you say no to enthusiasm? I love the French children – they are not at all phased that we are old enough to be their Grandparents – they just see us as dotty eccentric English people who speak dreadful French with loads of animals – I think we must be quite interesting to them!!