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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Goodbye to a truly unforgettable lady and friend.

Earlier today, a dear friend passed away.  This beautiful lady wasn't someone with whom I had daily contact, but somehow I always felt her presence in my heart.  She was one of my mother's closest friends, probably more like a sister than anything else.  I had known Louisette for almost forty years, although no matter how much time passed, she never aged a day in my eye.  It's that way for me with most French women, who seem to me to always have a little secret tucked away in their hearts.  My mother and Louisette were from the same generation, and both met and married U.S. servicemen at relatively young ages.  The fact that Louisette was from Poitiers, less than a two-hour drive from my mother's hometown, only increased the blessing when they met and became friends in the late 1970s. I was barely a teenager at that time, and I can remember how much I enjoyed listening to my mother and Louisette speaking French together.  Not only did it stir up nice memories of France, but it was easy to see that both ladies relished the opportunity to converse in their own language.  Louisette and her husband had two daughters, relatively close to the same age as me and my siblings.  We went to the same schools and became good friends. 

Time passed by, bringing changes for both families.  The kids finished High School and moved on to build lives of their own.  My mother and father started traveling more frequently, and would stay gone for months at a time.  What had been regular weekend visits for the families became less frequent.  I was also usually far from home, but I always managed to get home for Christmas, and one of the great joys of this holiday was the opportunity to see Louisette.  I so looked forward to smelling her familiar perfume when she gave me a hug, and enjoyed sitting back for an hour or so, catching up on all the family news.  Her daughters, Lisa and Tracy, had successful lives of their own, and I can imagine what a joy it was for Louisette to have grandchildren.  Life changes continued, and after being single for some years, Louisette met and married Mark, who then became a welcome fixture at Christmastime gatherings.

My career choice eventually required that I spend too many holidays away from my family, and   although my mother stayed in touch, my contact with Louisette evolved into long phone calls whenever I was in town.  Last week I learned that she was in the hospital, and that her condition was very serious.  Its one of those odd, unwelcome events when life reminds you that even those who always seemed so strong, so indestructible, are only human after all.  I've known Louisette almost my entire life, and I never had the chance to thank her for being a friend to my mother and being so kind and considerate to me and my family.  Louisette always carried herself with such refinement and class, that people would naturally gravitate towards her, and I always enjoyed sharing funny stories with Louisette, because she genuinely loved to laugh.  In fact, I know whenever I picture her, she will be smiling.

Louisette's illness and subsequent passing were unexpected, and the emptiness we feel will never totally fade away.  Again, she never changed in my minds eye, and she never will.  To those of us who love her, she will remain unchanged, in our memories, and in the faces of her grandchildren. 

Au revoir Louisette; nous vous aimons et vous serez toujours avec nous.      

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