Bonjour mes amis!
While walking around Orléans the other day, a vivid memory came back as I passed this Café by the tram line...
I made a friend at the Café Lutecia! We both had children at the same School. She was Irish, and she needed a friend who could speak English, or so her daughter told me. I met Brona's daughter at a "Career Night" at the High School. She was eager to give Brona my email address, and thought we could be friends. To my surprise, Brona emailed me the next day, welcomed me to Orléans and suggested we could meet.
We described ourselves to eachother and met at the Café for coffee.
This one meeting started our friendship, and we "hit it off" right away, chatting about our families, and where we had lived, etc. Though Brona was from Ireland, she had married a Frenchman, and together, they had lived in Saudi Arabia, Paris, Brazil, a second time in Saudi Arabia, and then, in Orléans with their three daughters. Though Brona could speak some French, she told me how difficult it was for her to form deep friendships in France because of the language barrier. This I understand.
We enjoyed spending time together. We met for coffee. We met to shop. We ate lunch out one day, complete with a little flask of wine...because in France, you are allowed to do that at lunchtime!
Brona came to my apartment near Christmas time. It was so fun to have a guest in my little French home, with our small Christmas tree and homemade decorations, and I got to share all the plans I had for when my other children arrived in Orléans, and what we would do for Christmas. We talked gifts, and wrappings, and what stores we could shop in to finish off our lists.
Poor Brona! The time she came to visit me at my apartment, we had difficulty finding her a place to park, so I went to meet her in my car to pick her up several blocks away. With all the fuss of her finding our apartment, a water bottle had spilled in her car and gotten her all wet. I'm sure she was rather embarrassed, since I had to loan her some clothes to wear, so we could dry hers in the dryer at our apartment. No matter. We gabbed on and on about our Christmas traditions together. It was fun to hear both the Irish and the French traditions that she and her family enjoyed.
I told Brona about the little Church we were attending in Orléans, and how kind the people were, and how much we did with them. She was Catholic, and commented how she really didn't ever know people at the Church. She was interested to hear about this, and expressed interest in attending with us. I invited her to join us, but sadly, she never did come with us.
Brona and her husband were on a house hunt. They were renting a home, but longed to buy one in Orléans. As is always the case, so many variables were affecting their search. They had been looking for some time, but so often, the homes would be old, and not updated, and the bedrooms would be very small and quirky. I loved to listen to Brona describe the homes they visited, and kind of wished I could join them on their hunt.
One time, I was privileged to visit with Brona in her home in Olivet. I brought her some small flowers, and decorated the vase with a small crocheted piece I made, because I really wanted to share that with her. We talked about recipes, and our children, and where I could find things in the grocery store, and about what we liked and what we didn't. I got to meet Brona's other two daughters. I saw, first hand, how dedicated she was to her daughters, in helping them to do well in School, and helping them pursue things they loved. I was thrilled to have Brona's friendship, and very touched by her love of her family.
As our year in Orléans got busier and busier with guests, we still chatted occasionally, and I would send her emails. She didn't like to type emails. It was hard for her. She felt she was too slow of a typist. She preferred to call.
I knew we would have a hard time getting together once the School year ended, with travel, and the busyness of having children in the home all the time.
Brona contacted me and told me that her Mother was sick in Ireland. And then, she contacted me that her Mother was having surgery, that she may have cancer, and she needed to go be with her. Brona was like me. She was the only sibling that had moved away, and I could sympathize with her. I wasn't sure of all the timing, but of course, I understood that I wouldn't be able to speak with her for a bit. She needed to go, and it was for an indefinite amount of time.
But then, there was no further communication...
I was sad, I wrote her an email to find out if we could get together. I knew my time was limited and coming to an end in Orléans .
Sadly, I left Orléans without seeing her again.
In October, I received an email from her email address...
It was from her husband, whom I never got to meet. He informed me that Brona had died of a heart attack, and that he and their daughters had just buried her in Ireland, and how different their life would be..
Shock can hardly describe my reaction. She was about my age. I'm grateful that Brona's husband contacted me. Brona was a very special, soft hearted, humble woman. She loved her husband. She loved her daughters. I'm pleased today to remember my Irish Friend in Orléans.
Treasure your friendships, my jewel friends!