No, it's not about my relative in North Carolina. It's about one of our neighbors here in Saint-Aignan.
Above is our neighbor B, who is 85, in a photo that I took yesterday afternoon. Every spring and summer for the past 12 years, we've watched him ride around his big yard on his tracteur (riding mower) keeping the grass just right. He's 85 now. Yesterday afternoon his wife M called me on the phone, which is unusual.
She asked me if I had heard that another neighbor, A, had passed away a couple of days ago. I hadn't heard, but I knew that A had been diagnosed with stomach cancer and had been operated on. Evidently, it was too late. I think A was about my age, or no more than a few years older than I am. We know her daughter, who must be about 40 years old and lives nearby with her husband and children. And we had known A and her husband D for more than 10 years too. Poor D.
The funeral is today at the cemetery down in the village. I'll be there. Like us, A and D didn't really have roots here in Saint-Aignan. In the early 1970s, they happened to buy a ruin of a house here, two doors down from the one we live in now. They spent many summers here restoring the place, they told us, showing us before and after pictures, and spent more and more time here after A retired from her job at the Galeries Lafayette department store in Paris six or seven years ago. They still spent part of the year in their apartment up there. I am a little surprised that she will be buried here instead of near Paris, but then her daughter and grandchildren are settled here.
This will be just the second funeral I've attended in our village — and actually only the second funeral I've ever attended in France, I think, despite living here off and on for 45 years. In 2009 one of the first friends we made in Saint-Aignan died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 52. I went to his funeral. Over the past 12 years, seven of our neighbors, including A, have died. Four of them were in their 90s. Most of them were not buried around here, but in the towns and cities they had left behind when they moved here. This hamlet is in for some big changes over the next few years, as the older generation passes on.