I never expected to have to learn such french words as ‘infirmière’, ‘douleur’, ‘ordonnance’, ‘chirurgie’ – nurse, pain, prescription, surgery… There are of course other words which have a much easier translation – ‘agonie’, ‘hôpital’, ‘le médecin’.
The distressing reason for my newly acquired increased vocabulary is that ‘mon pauvre mari’ was admitted to hospital with a slipped disc. The hospital has been fine and we have managed to understand each other with our combined ‘franglais’. Today he moves to a private clinic for possible surgery. Although very upsetting and worrying and not an experience we would ever have sought, we have faith in the care he is receiving and trust all will be well.
Even this horrid turn of events has not been able to dampen our enthusiasm for life here. The fact that your own life is in crisis yet life around you continues, provides calm and reassurance that ‘this too will pass’. The children’s carnvial, laughing, chattering, excited voices, went ahead as scheduled in ‘Place aux Herbes’. The winding streets basking in the golden light, as more shops and businesses sping to life with the approach of Easter and the beginning of the influx of tourists.
Driving to the hospital, albeit following an ambulance, stirred the heart. Field after field of vines still showing no evidence of spring growth and silvery, green olive trees softened with the pink blossoms of cherry and almond orchards now in full bloom.
Spring has arrived in southern France, shutters have been flung back, windows opened, thick coats been replaced with shirts and blouses, sweaters tied carefully over shoulders and scarves everywhere! The streets have become even more crowded with chairs and people embracing the warmth of the spring sunshine.
‘Clio’ and I have discovered many ways to navigate the 45km journey to the hospital and have abandoned the AutoRoute for the gentler calm of the country lanes that twist and turn through the fields and actually get us there just as quickly but feeling calmer and more relaxed
My poor friend Michelle, having braved the long journey from California, was here throughout this crisis. Although a real disappointment for her, I was so grateful of her support and to have a smiling face and an open bottle of wine to return home to each night from the hospital. Michelle even succeeded in making my birthday special despite everything, whisking me away to a stunning boutique hotel, a welcome evening of escape! Most of our plans were abandoned replaced with different unwelcomed ones but those that constitute ‘real life’. Together we experienced the efficiencies of the French health system, nurses and doctors visiting the house, helpful pharmacists explaining drug procedures and everyone encouraging me on with their smiles and stoic words of encouragement ‘bon courage’, could there be a more appropriate phrase for me right now?