Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Today marks the 44th birthday of my still born brother. When my mom was still alive my sister and I would have made sure to send a bouquet of white flowers to my parents (if we weren't with them at the time). We didn't have many other rituals to mark the day - when we were little my sister and I knew about the brother we never had, my mom sometimes  told us little snippets, but that was about it.

Only later did I understand why she reacted to things the way she did. She thought it was ridiculous when in films / TV shows women in labor would be screaming (my dad had asked her not to scream when she went in to the L&D room to deliver her son while he had to wait in the hallway - she didn't scream when she had me or my sister either and delivered all three children without epidural or other pain medication. I had M. Gourmand without epidural too and I think my screams were heard on the entire L&D floor and I don't know how I would have managed without...); when she hurt herself she would say "I've faced  bigger fires before" and wouldn't complain about it;  she would tell us to 'enjoy life' before getting pregnant - feeling she and my dad had been too young (they were in their early twenties) and to 'green' to face those doctors with their horrible bedside manners that first time around (and probably even a feeling of mother's guilt that she might have been able to change the outcome had she been more assertive).

Since she died, don't really know how to celebrate this day with my dad. Anything that refers to the time with my mom expressed in the presence of his new wife still seems to make him nervous, as if she wouldn't be able to deal with his past (or he just doesn't know yet how to fit everything into his head and heart yet). I just sent him a text message to let him know I haven't forgotten. I thought that would be it, but now that I'm writing this I've decided to ask my sister (who is with them in their house in the South of France this week) to buy a small white bouquet (or gather some white wildflowers if that's easier) for my dad to remember his son.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer - part 1

I don't want to start each blog post with an apology for my absence, but truth be told I can't believe it's been almost two months since my last post!

School has been out since July 6th - and there was no better way to celebrate it than with M. Sensible's 4th birthday! We had seven of his friends over and they were having lots of fun in the garden, especially with the water hose. Around 6 pm the parents  came back and stayed for a BBQ and we all had lots of fun. The house was a mess afterward (almost more grass inside than outside) and we battled mosquitoes all night because we had left the screen doors (well, they're not really doors, they're screen frames, attached to the window/door frames with velcro) open, a small price to pay for such a good time.

Two days later we went to my dad's second home in the South of France for a week-long vacation. It was blistering hot, but thankfully the house has a pool. M. Gourmand came down with a fever the next day and in the evening we got a call from a doctor from some regional health agency informing us that a classmate of M. Sensible had been hospitalized with meningitis so we had to make a doctor's appointment for the next day to get a prescription for a preventive antibiotics treatment for M. Sensible. Of course I flipped a little bit with M. Gourmand having a fever and not knowing if the little boy had been at M. Sensible's birthday party... (the doctor wasn't allowed to say the boy's name - I found out via another mom who had heard from the teacher, and no, the boy hadn't been at the party). Luckily M. Gourmand was fine again the next morning, both boys were in great shape, so we weren't too concerned when we went in for the appointment. The doctor first started to lecture us about various forms of meningitis, viral and bacterial, and then the different bacterial types - as if we were all overreacting - but he quickly changed his tone when he had talked to the agency's physician on the phone. So he gave M. Sensible a quick check-up (but M. Sensible still managed to kick and scream...), wrote out the prescription and off we went. The rest of the week was pretty uneventful and relaxing.

I'd tried to contact the little boy's mother a few times but she wouldn't answer the phone so we had no idea how the boy was doing but luckily yesterday and other mom had crossed her with her kids at the market and the boy is fine! It turned out to be viral after all (although in the beginning they thought it was bacterial and of the meningococcal variety and he had spent one day in quarantine).

We'll take some more vacation in August (like real French people! - a good topic for a next Cultural Differences post) but unfortunately one of hubby's projects has changed its schedule (obviously this project is not in France...) and he now probably has to work exactly at the same time as our vacation. This really sucks for several reasons but mostly because it means that he won't really have time off and he's close to a burn out, so he really really needs some time off...