Family Stories

Posted on 26 June 2011

My namesake aunt and uncle are visiting from Northern Ireland. This is the first time that they have visited France – though they travel a fair bit – and are shocked. They had heard France wasn’t a friendly country and are surprised that everywhere we go, all the shop, market, and restaurant people are so amicable. They are surprised too at the simplicity and beauty of the countryside.

Barbara is the youngest of my mother’s siblings and is only eleven years older than me. I call her a princess sometimes when she asks her husband to get this or that for her. She laughs and says I guess I was spoiled being the baby in the family. Eddie, her partner of 47 years, only rolls his eyes when she gives him an order and does what she asks. They are a very easy couple to be around.

I love asking her questions about her mother and father and siblings. I look at her sometimes and see a younger version of my mother. I see too qualities, ways of thinking and doing things that resemble my mother that I though belonged exclusively to my mum.

My writing friends in Canada will know what I mean when I say the weather is so stinking hot that it makes it impossible to do too much. Today we went for a picnic at the lake (pate, tomatoes, cheese, bread, boiled eggs – all my imagination could dream up) and though we parked in the shade, it was 37 degrees in the car. We drove to Bruniquel to visit a castle but after parking and walking through a book fare (where a young author tried to sell me his book), we couldn’t find the energy to climb the steep hill to the castle and so returned home to nap (me, to play on my computer.)

Yesterday, we visited Rosemary and Bob, older friends, and the guys had a swim in the pool and then Rosemary set the table with four little pots of dips, curried pastries, fresh strawberries, and a light spicey cake, topped with meringue and walnuts. She gave my aunt and uncle a tour of her house and in her office, my uncle commented on a slew of nudes that Rosemary completed lately in her life drawing class. She is one of those women who excels at everything and puts me to shame. She is the 83 year old friend who I spoke of lately who has just published an ebook on kindle and has three more ready to go.

As we sat around the table, breathless in the heat, she talked about her writing and made a comment something to the effect that she can’t understand writers who whine and complain when all one has to do is sit down and write. (I don’t think she knew she was speaking about me.)

Okay, it’s several hours later and my attention has wandered to several places so I’ll say adieu. At least, I sort of bring you up to date.

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