28 October 2009

The fog lifting

It was quite a day but I'm not ready to write about it yet. There were about 150 people at the funeral. I knew maybe 20 of them, and I recognized a lot more whose paths I've crossed over the last six years.

After the service and the burial, we were invited over to Jean-Luc's father's house for a glass of wine and some finger food. It was a nice gathering even though again, I didn't know a lot of the people in attendance. I talked with J-L's sisters, who were getting ready to drive back to Paris. They both have professional responsibilities.

Driving back to Saint-Aignan on an October morning,
just as the fog is starting to lift

I also spent a while talking with a man who was standing alone, kind of off to the side, as I was after a minute or two. He told me he was a childhood friend of Jean-Luc's, in Paris. He still lives in Paris. I asked if he had been to our village before, and he said yes, his grandfather was born here and lived here. It was his father who re-located to Paris as a young man, but when the grandfather here died the family kept his house.

So he spent summers in the Saint-Aignan area just as Jean-Luc did. He had driven down for the day, and I'm glad I started up a conversation with him because he had made all that effort to be here and was just standing there looking a little out of place. He made interesting conversation, so it wasn't a case of his being shy or naturally tactiturn. I think he just didn't know anybody. But he wanted to be there for his old friend's funeral.

It was a beautiful day and a beautiful service. There were many, many wreaths and sprays and pots of flowers. There were quite a few English people there, and at least one American and one German, but mostly the people were the village locals. Les paysans du coin.

Commuters in Tours waiting for the 7:45 train to Paris.
The picture is blurry, but then it was a blurry morning.

The atmosphere and the people were so different from what I had seen earlier in the morning at the TGV station over in Tours. Those were, as Walt described them, the "people dressed in black" — the urban ones who commute to Paris on the 7:45 a.m. TGV to Montparnasse. You'd think they were the ones who were all going to a funeral, in their black clothes, shoes, and coats. But no, they were just going to work in the city.

Right now, Callie wants her morning walk.


  1. A lovely description of the scene, Ken. Very moving.

  2. Yesterday must have been really sad, but now life goes on. Very glad to know Walt had a safe trip.

  3. do the locals in your area not dress predominantly in black as the people do in paris??

  4. I'm glad you found that fellow to talk with- you gave him a link to Jean Luc and the community. Your day of departures must have been a pretty emotional experience for you, I know it would have been for me.

    When I saw the train station crowd, I had the thought that they were a sophisticated group.

    Good luck at being a single parent for a couple of weeks.

  5. Must seem eerily quiet for you today (Wednesday) after the events of the past week and Walt's departure. Take time to take care of yourself.

  6. Cheryl, just finished lunch and I'm going over to see S. Need to help her with some computer/Internet difficulties. But I'm fine.

    Evelyn, my emotion had somehow passed before the funeral. I guess the blog absorbed a lot of it. I was fine. This whole episode has been emotional for me because my father died exactly the same way, in his sleep. And I fear it might happen to me one day.

    Melinda, lord no, people here don't wear black! They wear a lot of plaid and stripes, and colors. Remember, as they say, "Paris, c'est aussi la France." In other words, it's very different from the rest of the country, but it's still French.

    In Paris and places like San Francisco and New York, as Walt likes to say, people will just wear black — "until something darker comes along."

    I wore black and gray to the funeral. Weird for me. I'll have to post a picture.

    Hi Nadège, hi Jean!

  7. Oh, now I understand some of your emotions, Ken.
    We don't get to say goodbye when our loved ones die like that. OTOH for the person who dies- it must be a good thing.

    My parents always wanted to die in their sleep, but that didn't happen...

    Your blog is good in many ways-there is so much shock when a friend dies. Sharing your thoughts with us is helpful to both you and us, your readers since deaths like Jean Luc's will happen and have happened to us all. Such is life.

  8. Black is the official color of Paris.

  9. Hi Ken, tough old week and its good to hear you're bearing up and in good spirits. You'vve certainly been in our thoughts.
    You might be interested to know that in London, blackish rules, but with a pink tie. I haven't got one (my ties all date from the mid 90's and before) and I always feel like a bumpkin as a result when I have to go there. I even went to a tie shop to buy one but they were 40-60 GBP....For that I'm happy feeling like a bumpkin!


  10. A very moving description of the funeral and loss of your friend. It's always hard but especially so when someone dies suddenly and at a young age. Time will heal, but it will take time.


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