Part I ended with gratitude that I escaped a possibly horrific outcome from my fall down the stairs a few days before Christmas. I went on to have an enjoyable holiday in Montpellier with friends, watching the city come alive with twinkling white lights, a sound and light show that illuminated 20 or more of the most beautiful monuments in the Centre Ville for 3 days, little live Christmas trees along the “petites rues” and outside of many shop doors, and, of course, les marchés de Noël (Christmas markets) that lined the grand Esplanade just off the Comédie (central square). The Christmas spirit which, for me, had been fading the last few years back in the States because of the commercialism and early October appearance of ubiquitous Christmas music and decorations, returned, and I was reliving my childhood Christmases once again. No snow, and not even very cold here, yet the feeling of the holiday was everywhere. It was truly a whole city celebration with smiles on all the faces.
For Christmas Eve dinner I was invited, along with another single friend, to the home of some new friends, for homemade fish stew. It was a delightful evening exchanging our back stories together. Our hosts had been living in France for over 15 years, Sunshine from New England, Hugo from the UK, and Susan and I were both from the east coast U.S. On Christmas Day, I had been invited to have noontime dinner at an elegant Brasserie by the Opéra – the first time I had dressed up since coming to France…I bought a fancy, very French, black skirt for the occasion, and red suede French boots. Champagne and wine flowed, and the oysters slid down like silk! My friend, Juliette, is Vietnamese and French, and her husband, Ian, is a Brit.
After my fill of delicious holiday food had passed, and I was hungry again, I trotted off to my favorite market and bought some pork patties with cheese and bacon to cook for myself at home. I had had them before and they were delicious. In less than an hour after eating them, I began to feel awful…my stomach was churning, gurgling and the signs of intestinal upset were hard to ignore. After trying to convince myself that I had just eaten too much, I went upstairs to bed. Well that was all she wrote, and I will spare the details of my night. It was FOOD POISONING. I think this is the worst case I’d ever experienced, and for the next two weeks I could barely eat as my tummy just didn’t want anything in there at all…it needed time to recover!
This was the second big F word in this series.
The expression “Never Two Without Three” had always seemed a bit ominous to me, although I have used it many times in my life. I can’t seem to recall a time, however, when the third had actually, and so obviously, come to pass.
On Jan. 2, I made my first trip back to the U.S. in 5 months. It was wonderful to spend 5 whole days with my daughter, Katharine, and her husband, Mike, while she was still off from work for the holidays. We “hung out”; did errands together; saw the newest edition of the film, “Little Women;” and visited our 99 year old cousin at her retirement home. We also had lunch at a favorite country inn with my good friend and Katharine’s godmother and her husband; then visited the beautiful country cemetery of St. Thomas Church where my parents, Katharine’s beloved grandparents, are buried.
My visit with Katharine and Mike was punctuated, however, with a very large exclamation point and a shocked-faced emoji on the 4th day with a horrific piece of news. A friend of mine back in France, who lived in another part of my neighborhood, sent me the following email: “….Not to alarm you, but have you heard from your landlords about the FIRE in your building?” I had not, and thus began the third incident, and the worst of them all !!!
To be continued in Part III coming soon!