And the show must go on...
Sunday was the first day of May. «Le premier mai». This is a very important time of the year in France and other (few) countries.
It is May Day. Yes, May Day and not «Mayday» (the distress message which is French by the way. From «Venez m’aider.» Cock-a-doodle-do).
May Day was on Sunday. The International Workers’ Day. A great day, at least in France when it allows people to get an extra long week-end. In 2011, bad day. No extra long week-end. A real day of rest on Sunday.
In France, we have another tradition, not as yummy as the Easter bells. But it’s nice. We give away lilies of the valley (muguet) to our neighbors and friends. It is supposed to bring them luck. (And please do not eat «muguet». It’s highly toxic.)
Since the «premier Mai» was on Sunday, I postponed my giving away the lucky charms till Monday.
Sunday tends to be a family day in Brittany and you don’t want to intrude on people, looking very stupid with only one sprig for the head of the family (usually the woman but only on this particular day).
You end up facing a lot of people you know and you don’t feel like giving them lilies of the valley anyway.
So I waited until Monday.
In the afternoon, since most of my friends and neighbors are retired and would be home, I filled a sack with lilies of the valley, all of them ready to be planted out. (My contribution to ecology. And I walked around. I did not use my car. Thank you.)
I know that one should never infringe traditions. May Day was on Sunday. Not on Monday.
Stormy weather outside when I started on my social whirl.
Everything went well at first. Kiss, kiss, kiss. Talk, talk, talk. See you. Bye bye.
I had decided to end my good luck charm dispatching day at Henri’s and then at my last and closest neighbors, J. and T.
Henri. Do you remember Henri? He was married to my dear Yvonne who passed away almost one year and a half ago. Well, Henri has not been feeling well lately. Very bad backaches all the time. Not eating properly. Feeling really depressed. (I told you they were lovebirds.)
On entering the garden, I noticed that JM, one of his grandsons was there. (At least, his scooter was there.) The door was open and the tv blaring.
Knock, knock. JM tells me to come in. Henri was nowhere to be seen and JM was fixing some shelves, looking teary.
Bad day. Henri had been rushed to the «big» town hospital at noon. As a precautionary measure. Henri looked very, very bad a few days ago. I felt shivers down my spine. I handed the lily of the valley to JM and we shared a few tears because Henri is such a loving person and we are very worried about him.
Hopefully, it will be a scare and he’ll get back on his feet again. Hopefully. Hopefully. Hopefully.
Then I left JM to give away my last lily of the valley to J. and T.
We never became real friends even though they moved in their house more than 10 years ago. But they were good neighbors. We do make a point to invite them over whenever we organize one of our «friends and neighbors» nights... (That’s what you do when you have no real neighbors at all. You tend to socialize with the people closest to you even if they live more than a mile away!)
So I rung their bell. I saw right away something was very wrong. I had not seen them for quite a long time.
He had lost at least 40 pounds and he looked haggard and worn out. His wife looked exhausted and worried.
What could I do besides handing her my gift? I sat down with them in their kitchen and I learnt that his prostate cancer had metastatized in his liver. Oh bad, very, very bad.
I hate cancer.
J.’s main problem though was that he’s supposed to start chemo next week. And I found out that chemo scares the hell out of him. Not cancer. No. Chemo. Chemo and its side effects.
I guess it wasn’t much fun to have lived around a neighbor who had gone through so many courses of chemo.
After all, they saw me distraught and exhausted and sick. And hairless since they use to come to our place without even knocking... the Brittany neighborly way (whenever we forget to lock the door which happens very often).
Well, anyway, there I was, sitting in their kitchen, trying to find all the good points of chemo. And telling them my «tricks of the trade» to fight the side effects. I am a pro after all.
Oh, I was brilliant. Maybe not very efficient. Maybe not efficient at all... because all I was thinking about was: «Not another chemo. Please. Not another chemo.» Besides the fact that he had the hardest time understanding that the main point of chemo is to fight cancer (and hopefully defeat it).
Is chemo a punishment? Yesterday, in their kitchen, it sounded like it really was a punishment. Maybe this was the reason why I hated my chemos so much, after all.
But there I was sitting in their kitchen and staring at my very sorry lily of the valley.
Traditions, traditions. I should learn to outgrow them before they outgrow me, shouldn’t I.
*Well, while I was writing this post, I decided to take a few minutes off and I called Henri at the hospital. He sounded very happy and was feeling much better. They obviously gave him efficient painkillers. He has already started to walk around his bedroom without help.
*Good Luck, and Good Night*