One of my great-aunts on my mother’s side passed away a couple of days ago. It was not unexpected; she was 100 and had been gravely ill for some time. The French side of my family is very, very close; but due to several issues, I’m unable to go to the funeral (which is tomorrow somewhere in the vastness of Los Angeles, a place I happily and purposely haven’t been to in 21 years).
I am glad that a cousin of mine spent a few hours a couple of years ago taping an interview with my great aunt, asking her about our ancestry (her Tuscan-born mother emigrated to France with her family at a young age and settled in Provence), and about life in France during the war. She owned a café on the port in Marseille, lost her husband very early into their marriage (and never remarried). During the war, she sent her kids to live on a farm, hoping that farm life would be best for their environment (and later found out that the farmers sons were part of the Résistance). She eventually followed her daughter to California, as her sister (my grandmother) did when all of their children moved out here in the early ‘60s. The woman was full of stories, and I’m glad my cousin made that recording.
I just got off the phone with my mom, who flew in from France day before yesterday and is headed down to LA in a bit. Even though my aunt’s passing was not a great shock, mom is still in need of consoling. At the end of our conversation, she tells me that she can’t talk much longer because she needs to run out and get a manicure and pedicure, as her family just cannot see her hands and feet the way that they are right now. And the thing she’s most excited about? due to all the trauma, she’s lost enough weight to fit into one of her St. John knit outfits that she hadn’t been able to fit into in over 10 years, and she can’t wait to show that to her sisters.
Sometimes I wonder if we really are related.