Lulu used to take a gymnastics class for ladies but she gave up about five years ago when she was in her seventies because her husband became ill.
I saw him once or twice in the chemist’s when he would sit on the chair while Lulu collected the prescriptions.
Nearly a year ago Francine, a neighbour who helps out with Bear and Whale, told me that Lulu’s husband was seriously ill and she was helping her with his care every day as Lulu didn’t want to ‘be invaded’ by the carers from HAD (home nursing) as they came in threes!
Poor Michel became steadily worse and there was a threat that he might lose a foot, then a leg with gangrene. They didn’t amputate in the end but he had a serious infection and died in hospital last week.
In France they don’t wait long before the funeral and despite the Bank Holiday on Monday the cremation was arranged for Tuesday morning with interment of ashes at 4p.m. the same day.
Francine said that Lulu had not put a notice in the paper as it would be a quiet affair but she would be happy to see me there if I wished to go.
Francine went to the cremation and I did the morning stint with my invalids and then she came in the afternoon so that I could go to the cemetary here in the village.
It was a strange affair.
Friends and family arrived at the car park and greeted one another with a handshake or kiss and then Lulu arrived, on foot, and as I was on the edge of the group she threw her arms round me and we had a little chat. After that, a young lady who turned out to be her grand daughter came and greeted me and so did one or two other people I didn’t know.
After a few minutes we all trooped through the cemetary to the Columbarium where the urns are placed.
A young man in a suit, presumably from the funeral parlour, placed the urn on a table with a red velvet cloth and gave a reading about Michel and passing on. Then he invited the grand daughter to say a few words and everyone brought out their hankies as she talked about how he would take her on his knee and tell her stories when she was a child.
Then the urn was put into a hole in the columbarium and the young man in the suit produced a basket of tools and proceeded to stick the plaque over the hole with a large ‘gluegun’ and then polish it with a duster.
By this time, people were chatting in little groups and then Julie, the home nurse arrived so I went to say hello to her.
“Would it be impolite to leave now?” I asked her.
“Not at all, some people are already going” was her reply.
So I wandered back home and got back in time to see Francine who had just finished helping the carer.
I told her how everyone was moved by the grand daughter’s words and she said the same thing had happened at the service in the morning.
I don’t know how long Lulu will be surrounded by her family but she’s a courageous little lady and I’m sure she will adjust to life on her own. In a way, Michel’s death is a relief for both of them as he had suffered a great deal and it must have been hard for her to watch.
Maybe in a few weeks I’ll ask her round for a coffee.