Monday, March 14, 2011

la Tristesse dans nos Rue

A woman I admire, Claude Crespy, passed away this morning at the age of eighty. She lived just down from me here on the opposite side of rue Ferlus. We had a rendez-vous for tea last Thursday. I took her the last of the lemon bars I made from the Meyer lemons.

I had just come to know her in the quiet of last winter when I came here to hole up and write. K and M, from whom I bought this house, introduced us. They knew I was a gardener with only a container garden on the patio here and that Claude had a large garden space just down the road in the countryside. We went to her garden several times together, to pick flowers or apples and sit in the sun. I made an apple crisp for her and my other neighbors from the apples from her tree.

Claude was a highly educated single woman who had been born in this village and grown up here. Her parents used to be the proprietors of one of the small groceries here. She carried a lot of the history of the village in her heart. She had traveled and lived outside the village for awhile and spoke English quite well, once upon a time. She came back and was living in a part of the house in which she grew up.

She had a stroke a year ago November and it was tough going at first. Even though her garden is just a little over a block from her house, she would drive down there from the disabled parking space the village marked out for her here on the street, unlock the gate and hobble in using two canes to spend time there. Last Fall, she was easily fatigued and had taken to giving me the key to the garden gate so that I could stay longer when she needed to go home and lie down.

But she was looking better when I arrived this year. Her hair had been colored again and permed. She was walking more easily and getting out to see friends more often. She shared some fleurs de coing japonais, flowering quince branches, with me from her garden last week that grace the table in my study even now.

My next door neighbor, Elodie, did cleaning and grocery shopping for Claude for awhile after her stroke. It was Elodie who came by to make sure I knew about Claude this afternoon just as I was listening to this song. The music brought tears to both of our eyes as it played in the back room and we spoke of Claude.

Il vaut mieux pour elle. Elle était une femme solitaire, said Elodie. It was better for her. She was a solitary woman. She would have been very unhappy in the maison retraite retirement home with all the others, we agreed.

We already miss you, Madame Claude Crespy.
May flights of angels sing thee to thy sleep.

Baisers de la tristesse.


derekh said...

thankyou Nancy for the eulogy and homily for I too knew Claude and she visited our home here . . always indefatigable and kind, she will be missed.

Ms. Moon said...

I will have tender thoughts in my heart for her. And for you, as you miss her.

Anonymous said...

A beautiful remembrance, Nancy.

Laura Paine Carr said...

Awwww. I sit here with full heart, knowing the love which grew steadily in your hear for your friend, and in hers for you. We are very blessed by tender relationship.

Yes, this is a beautiful rememberance, Nancy.

Hugs and Love

rebecca said...

i love your collection of honoring...
walks shared, the key to the garden gate pressed in your hand, fleurs de coing japonais even now gracing your view of life like claude herself..
forever more.

thank you for gracing me with a visit..where i have followed you back, to find tender beauty.

Kathleen Scott said...

You were fortunate to have time with her in the last period of her life--she left some of herself with you, and the rest of the village. I hope comfort comes in time and your memories bring sweet feelings.

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