And that's where I really am these days!
The good news came when we returned from the Alps, and I received the all-clear from my orthopedic surgeon, who said I was all healed, both my fractured knee and three ribs. Yeah! The spring weather has us out and about our town and looking forward to not one but two weddings. Our youngest French cousin Phillippe is finally getting hitched to his American sweetheart, Lauren from L.A.
Antoine, a dear friend and one of my former French teachers from the Sorbonne, has found his true love, Lexia, whom he met at his Church in the 6th where he lives. She studied the art of bookbinding and is also an accomplished stage actress here in Paris, having grown up in a theatrical family.
Unfortunately, we've lost two friends, still alive, (thank goodness) who have been recently repatriated to the USA. Franck and Tom, to whom we were introduced when we first arrived in 2016 by our old friend Diane, who is still living and practicing psychoanalysis, creating beautiful artwork and photography, and a fantasy garden filled with birdsong and colorful flowers in her lovely home. Before her husband Len passed away, they came to visit us in Paris and we hope that Diane will be able once again to return to the city she loves.
Franck was born in Belgium and became a hairdresser to the stars in LA, then morphed into a real estate mogul in NYC, then retired to Paris, and has fallen into a fantastic business venture that he couldn't pass up and which required his move back to LA. His husband, Tom plays polo professionally and they live with their cocker spaniel and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, both adorable. Franck is still an influencing machine on Social Media and I'm sure both he and Tom are happy to be doing the things they love most, together.
We have made some plans for travel in the near future and are catching up with various check-ups with numerous doctors, (Like my orthopedic surgeon below) all of whom feel like family these days. After all, they do keep us healthy and the French government generously absorbs much of the cost, and we're practically the only people we know that haven't had Covid. (I really don't worry much anymore now that we have reached our sixth vaccination!) When I was talking to our dentist, for some reason, she was prompted to tell me about a certain reflexologist, a Chinese man, probably in his 60s, who
woefully stated that there is no younger generation that works the way he does in the true fashion of the Chinese art of healing by prompting your energies to go in the right direction at the right time. I was fascinated that she would recommend him because it wasn't like her to offer me the card of a colleague unless I had asked for one. But she did, so I thought "What the heck" and made a
rendezvous with Dr. Wu. The first time I went I had absolutely no idea what to expect and I closed my eyes, hoping to just concentrate on the sensations that my dentist had touted as fabulous. I cannot begin to describe the kinds of things he did, but I can tell you that when I walked out of there, I felt 20 years younger, and nothing hurt. On top of that, my equilibrium was better than I
can remember in recent years. Ted and I walked home through the Marché St. Honore from my first visit with Dr. Wu, which is a good three km and I still felt like dancing. We went out for dinner that evening at a new restaurant that I can only describe as a melange of Japanese and French, very trendy with a stylish atmosphere until it got
too noisy. The name of the restaurant for anyone who's interested is Sphere. The food was good, but a wee bit overpriced. Still, we enjoyed each other's company and sharing
critiques. Since then we've been hanging out in our kitchen and cooking for each other, which makes me appreciate going out for a good meal that is served with finesse and the dishes cleared away, never to be seen again. The only problem about staying home and not traveling is that you get all the bad news, and lately we've had some doozies! Last week, two close friends died. Our dear
darling Marie-Claire, who had turned 98 last November, and who just had published a new book, passed away in her sleep from heart failure. It really wasn't unexpected because I knew she had a heart valve problem and was darned if she was going to go into hospital at her age. But still, one can always hope that there will be a next time. In fact, during our last conversation, we exchanged hilarious stories and spent over an hour in giggles, and near the end, I'm not sure now why this time, but I actually took a screenshot of her on our FaceTime call. I've never done anything like that with anyone before, never even considered it. And yet this time something caused me to do it. Now some might say that I had a premonition, but it was unconscious,
provoking me to capture a bit of our last time together on the phone, which was just about a week before she died. She was attempting to hide her pride in her book, "L'Aube de L'Etre", which in English translates to "The Dawn of Being" and is her ultimate statement about the earliest experiences of the fetus. I remember how playful she was, perhaps covering over a concern that I wouldn't want to come back to her apartment because it was the site of my accident and the broken bones that kept me down for a while. But now I am a bit numb, finding it hard to even consider a world in France without Marie-Claire Busnel. Today I received this letter by email. She had written it before she died, and yet she titled it Post-Mortem. For those who did not have the pleasure to meet her, or who did not know her well, these last written words tell all.
POST-MORTEM by Marie-Claire
"Regardless of the rite of passage to be performed, the person being honored had few opportunities to be heard during their childhood, their years of study, or on their birthdays or weddings. Others have praised him! So I decided to shake things up and write my own eulogy! Not to proclaim my merits, which would be very pretentious, but to express my gratitude to the fate that has offered me the opportunity to make the most of my facilities, not to suffer too much from my shortcomings, and to live an exciting life, surrounded by dear friends. I also had the joy of living long. Thus, I thank all those who loved me and bore witness to me, those who surrounded me with their concern and helped to make this life creative, delicious and, I hope, fruitful. I will therefore have left this grateful existence in peace, filled with hope that the next incarnation will be even more enriching"
After I read the sad news sent to me by Christelle her masseuse, I thought about the first time we had met. It was near Christmas and we were in Paris for our 25th wedding anniversary. Our dear friends, Olivier and Varenka had a wonderful anniversary party for us to which she had invited all of our friends, whom she also knew, and a few friends and colleagues that she thought we should meet. It was a wonderful party, and even our good friend, Joyce McDougall, at the age of 85 climbed up the four steep flights of stairs in the apartment building on the Île Saint-Louis in honor of the occasion. One friend invited us to come to her home, a little way outside of Paris, for a lovely garden luncheon on the following Sunday afternoon. Miriam called and said that a friend of hers lived only a few blocks away from where we were staying in St. Germain. She put us in touch with Marie-Claire who offered to pick us up and take us with her in her car to Miriam's home. As we were driving
back to the city, she asked if we had plans for Christmas day, and since we didn't, as most visitors, don't, she invited us to her apartment to meet with her husband Guy
for a wonderful home-cooked pheasant dinner. Just before we were about to pack to leave and return to the States, we received a call from Marie-Claire who asked us if there were any places we wanted to go that we could not go by ourselves; In other words, by public transportation, or taxi. We knew that meant far out of town and said we hadn't really thought about it. She said she knew just the place that we would love at this time of year and they would like to surprise us if we would be interested in going and so on the 29th of December that year Marie-Claire and her husband Guy drove us about an hour to an amazing place, the Château Vaux-le-Vicomte. This marvelous castle that had been built by Fouquet, the finance minister of King Lois the XIV, and what a Wonderland it was to behold,
with sparkling lights everywhere outside and snow machines producing the snow, that the lack of
precipitation wouldn't allow the cold to provide. Inside the castle each room had its own enormous and beautifully decorated Christmas tree, each one more fantastic than the last. We ate in the restaurant on the grounds of the Château, and walked through the gardens that resembled Versailles. Last but not least, we visited the stables in which there were at least 20 fully restored, carriages hooked up to mannequin horses. even with New Year's Eve, still ahead, nothing could have matched this special surprise that Marie-Claire and her husband, Guy afforded us. Of course, we kept in touch with Marie-Claire and saw her East year when we came to Paris, and when we finally arrived. After our retirement, this
time for our permanent stay, she was Johnny on the spot when I broke my foot the first time. For those of you who might've read my memoir, you know how well-equipt she was to fill in the blanks left open by hospitals, doctors, and rescue units. She came ready with crutches, a wheelchair, and the medical knowledge to help us understand what was going on with me when the doctor from SOS Medicine arrived.
Over these last seven years, we've been together so many times, for so many lovely luncheons. She made these delicious meals in her home for us and for friends that she wanted us to meet -- like Jane and Claire, the couple pictured in the photo above with Marie-Claire at our home for dinner. We would often take her out after Guy died, and celebrated her birthday along with Ted's since they fell practically on the same day as had Guy's. This year we were already thinking about remaining in Paris for Ted's birthday to celebrate Marie-Claire's 99th, when she planned her annual ritual to invite all of her friends who celebrate their birthdays in November. It saddens me to realize that that event would never be since Guy had lived to be a ripe old 104, we were sure that Marie-Claire without do him in the longevity department. Wishful thinking! Another friend, who passed away last week was the husband of a colleague that we had met many many years ago. They lived in Israel, and coincidentally had the same last name as ours, except that it was spelled MITRANY. I remember
the first time I met Edith, Moshe's wife, who approached me at the end of the lecture I had given for the Israeli Psychoanalytic Society and thanked me very much for my wonderful paper as well as the many referrals that came to her because every time I published a paper, people thought she was the author. That was the start of a wonderful friendship and a certain kind of kinship with Moshe because he had the same family saga as did Ted. He was from a Sephardic Jewish family in Spain, who were exiled from the country in 1492, arrived in Italy, through the port of Trani and we're welcomed to remain in the town. Thus many of them adopted the name of the town and called themselves Mitrani, the name of the town preceded by the prefix Mi, which is the Hebrew word for 'from'. Others even more grateful decided to convert to Catholicism and took the name Datrani, also adopting the name of the city with the prefix Da which means 'from' in Italian. Of course, this through the years when we would be visiting Israel twice a year and always saw them either in their home or out together by the sea at some lovely restaurant. But recently Moshe had not been well, which we knew, but not having frequent contact with Edith, we weren't aware how ill he really was. We receive the news through a very close mutual friend in Paris. Of course these two losses follow so closely on the loss of the man I called Pa and my first analyst, it was a real blow. Of course, this is only the beginning of what I'm sure will be many losses over the years if we are lucky enough to stay alive and well. It's sad to be so far away unable to attend funerals and memorials. Although I was able to write a poem in memory of my dear friend, Bob Detterman aka Pa, and Ginger promised that she might read it at the memorial dinner together with all the kids and grandkids, but if not, she would make sure that they saw it. Really I had written it for her, as I had written so many poems on so many occasions for her in those years when we were together in the world of the Arabian horse. Now that some of you might've been moved to tears, I can also tell you
some good news. We have planned a visit to CAEN in Normandy to see our friend Didier, who recently lost his wife Bernadette. Well there we will stay in the Château that we had stayed in before Covid took over our lives, and which has now been completely renovated during the time when it was closed and now this spring for the first time in three years has re-opened. Château d'Audrieu is located halfway between. Caen and Bayeux, and I think that we might take advantage of this trip and pay a second visit to view these tapestries that date back to the first century depicting the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. We also have been in touch with our friend Mark Greenside, and his honey, Donna, and plan to visit them while they are in Brittany in May. We will be staying in a seaside town at the very northwest called Roscoff and a fabulous in right on the ocean and will have a chance to see our friends twice in the four days that were there, once at Mark's home in another part of Finistère by the river, and then they will join us for a wonderful dinner at our hotel in Roscoff. The third holiday we have planned is in order to get out of France during part of the warm season and decided to try a luxurious hotel situated right on Lac Leman, better known in some countries as Lake Geneva. We plan to be there for 10-days, taking day trips around Switzerland for what will be the longest vacation we have indulged in since the beginning of our Covid adventures. Planning these vacations has struck up conversations over
where to travel during next Summer, as we want to get away on particular dates, because, as most people know, the Summer Olympics are taking place here in Paris from 26 July until August 11. This planning is quite some undertaking since we needed to find a cool place to go that will keep us away from Paris for two weeks and require Jeffrey's, Mickey's caretaker's faithful presence. Of course, the obvious is another cruise. We've been wanting to explore more of the north pole and had hoped for Svalbard, but unfortunately, the dates don't match. So we are thinking of a Silver Seas cruise from Reykjavík Iceland, all around the archipelago and back again, adding to that a day trip to the Emerald Lake and one to the Golden Circle filled with natural wonders that are particular for Iceland. We are delighted by what is offered in this package that we might splurge on, one that will keep us away from Paris next Summer, which is not just essential because of the hoards of tourists, but our apartment happens to be a five-minute walk from Ground Zero for all of the award ceremonies and more that will be held at the Place de la Concorde! Are you planning a trip to Paris to attend this exciting event in the most beautiful city in the world?
À bientôt for now ❣️