05 April 2020

News from CHM

As you might know, CHM is my 95-year-old French friend of many years' standing. He has an apartment in Paris — he grew up in it and lived there until he moved to the U.S. in 1969. Over the past 20 or more years, since he retired, CHM has been spending summers in Paris. He also has a house in Virginia, where he spends winters. Right now he's in Virginia, and he's in a rehabilitation facility  after suffering a broken hip nearly a week ago.

I talked to him on the phone about 3 days ago. He was still in the hospital and was pretty groggy. Nothing was clear about what would happen next. He had already had surgery to repair the broken bone. But news was hard to come by after that short phone call, given the time difference and the current worldwide health crisis, for one thing. CHM was off-line — he didn't have his iPad with him.

After more than 48 hours with no news, I tried to reach him at the hospital in Virginia yesterday, but was told he had been discharged. That was good news, if you know what I mean. I rang his home phone four or five times over the course of the afternoon, but there was no answer. I thought, well, maybe he's at home but sleeping and he can't hear the phone. But I figured, too, that there was a good chance he might have been sent directly to a rehabilitation center rather than being sent home. He lives alone.

 I took this photo of CHM in Paris in 2016

Well, that's exactly what had happened. I got an e-mail from him this morning. He's in a facility where physical therapists can help him get back on his feet. I don't think he'll be running any marathons any time soon, but I hope he'll be able to be independent and live at home again in the near future. I'm sending CHM all my best wishes and thoughts, and I'm sure all of you reading this are doing the same.

Here's a photo of CHM and me from the late 1990s, taken in Southern California
I first met CHM in early 1983, at a time when I had just returned to the U.S. after living and working as a teacher in Paris for three years. I was 33 years old, and I was trying to figure out what I was going to do next to earn a living. I took a test as part of the application process for a job as a French-English translator with the government. CHM was one of the people who reviewed the test. A few weeks later he phoned me one day to say he was looking for an editorial assistant or assistant editor to help him in his work as the editor of a French-language magazine that was published by the U.S. Information Agency for distribution in francophone Africa. He hired me.

We worked together for about four years before Walt and I decided to leave Washington DC behind and move to California. CHM and I stayed in touch, became good friends, and the rest is history. We've traveled around France together over the past 15 years, I've stayed at his place in Paris with him on numerous occasions, and he's stayed here with us here in Saint-Aignan numerous times too. Before that, in the late '90s, Walt and I were living in San Francisco and CHM was living part-time near Palm Springs, out in the Southern California desert. We used to enjoy driving down there for visits with him and his friend Frank, who passed away in 2006. I'm so glad to know that he is okay and back on line.


  1. This is such good news...I'm so glad you were finally able to speak to CHM and find out what was happening. I always enjoy reading his interesting comments on this blog. I hope he gets well and stays safe and returns home.

  2. Thanks for this news. I'll email him right away.

  3. bien contente pour vous... et pour lui aussi bien entendu !

  4. I'm sending CHM all my best wishes and thoughts too :-)!

  5. It's great to have news of chm, and to see these photos. I don't think I've seen a good photo of his face, before -- usually, he's off in the distance in a photo, in front of a store, or sitting at a table, across the room. All my best to you, chm.

  6. So glad to hear that you were able to connect with CHM and that he’s out of the hospital. Not a good place to be these days. As Judy said, it’s good to see photos of this very interesting man whom we all feel we know thanks to your blog.

    Looking forward to seeing your comments again soon, chm!

  7. Thank you, Ken, for that (unfortunate)update. You had posted many days ago that CHM was having problems with his internet connection and would be off line for a while. But I knew somehow that it had to be more serious, and that's why I posted the inquiry yesterday.

    Take care, CHM. I had a bad fall in 2018 and had to be hospitalized and was then sent to Physical Therapy. It did help a lot but can be exhausting. Some therapists are better than others so I hope you get a good one. Hopefully you aren't in too much pain, and that you can avoid getting on the narcotic train, which so many doctors advocate these days. Looking forward to your and Ken's back and forths again soon.

  8. glad you were able to finally connect...sending healing thoughts for CHM....

  9. I love seeing these photos of CHM. The first one shows the man I met in Paris several years ago. I wish him a full recovery- I would say speedy, but I've broken bones before and they always take at least six weeks to heal.

  10. Glad to hear he is out of hospital and recovering. A bad fall is so often very bad news for an older person. Please send him our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  11. Greetings to Ken and CHM! It is good news that you have now started therapy after your surgery. It is nice to put a face with all of the messages and talk of you on this blog, CHM. I tell my friends to keep up with the therapy on your own, if you can, after the therapist has finished. Get permission first, of course, from the specialist. I will eagerly await the news that you have returned to your apartment.

    Mary in Oregon

  12. Ken, thanks for sharing these wonderful photos of our CHM! I am glad he's on the mend and on his way back home soon. Looking forward to seeing his shining comments here in the near future. What's the story about carrots again? ;-)

  13. So glad to know you've heard from CHM. If the information is of any use, I had a hip fracture in an accident nearly 20 years ago, and the orthopedic people get you up and moving almost immediately after the repair. Do your exercises, good sir!! In a few months, you won't even notice it.

    1. An American friend who lives just a few miles from us on the other side of Saint-Aignan just had a hip replacement and he was walking again, with a cane, after just two or three days.

      I'm sure CHM has enjoyed seeing all your comments on this post.

  14. Thank you all for your concern and kind words.


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