Birthdays are better in France

This birthday was a big one. I hesitate to tell you I turned 65. I want to hide behind all those old lady caveats — “but that doesn’t really describe me,” “but I don’t feel a day over 24, 35, whatever,” but all that just makes me sound, you know, old. Nothing to do about it, really. It is what it is.The best thing I can say is that I celebrated in France. Friends got this old lady out to a nice restaurant or two. Other friends celebrated at home. Much champagne was consumed, enough to help a person forget most anything. And Mr. France, in a stroke of absolute genius, booked us into a week of thalassotherapy.

Les Thermes Marins are at a grand old hotel on the beach at Saint Malo. In case you are wondering, I get nothing for mentioning them. I’m just saying. I could go back any time. More yoga, more massage, more time doing guided meditation while floating in warmed and purified sea water, bring it on. Oh, and as long as you don’t drag him right into the spa, your dog can come, too. You can see him above, hoping that if he holds still for a bit, we can go to the beach. and here, if the link works, is he actually at the beach.

We weren’t ready to go back to Paris, so Mr. France found a little hotel that is part of a group called “Relais du Silence,” luxury hotels out in the middle of the countryside. So which part of the countryside did we choose? You get one guess and one hint.

Now back to real life.

Birthday Boy

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Robert would be 80 today. His birthday was always fun,though it took a few years for him to admit that he was looking forward to it. He had a favorite colleague, Ted, who shared his birthday and would always send us a message. Bless his heart, Ted continued that tradition after Robert’s death, obviously writing to me instead. I hope to hear from him today.

But, you never know. Life changes. Robert and the life we shared is gone. This photo for example, is of Christmas dinner in 2010. It shows Robert’s younger son Edward, his daughter Tracy and two of his grandchildren, Moses and Zachary. I never see and rarely hear from them any more. Now you may be thinking well yes, dear, you moved to France. But really, psychologically, the distance between France and their homes is no farther than the distance between their homes and the Berkeley hills, where we used to live. Would I see or hear more of them if I were still in that house? I doubt it.

I thought that this year I would shift from writing about Robert on his death date to writing, if I do, on his birth date. Death is so depressing. Birth, new beginnings, all that life, that’s better. As I sit here, wondering what to write, all I can think is that I should have made this shift last year. This year whatever new life I may have going is well established.

My life has more or less been shaped in chapters, usually marked by a significant death, one that sends my life in a completely different direction. Always before I was glad for the change. This time, no, I wanted the old life to go on forever. Too bad. Think again.

No question, though, this is a new chapter. I hope it won’t remain as bumpy as it has been. We shall see. I am blessed to have a few good friends who have made the transition with me. Friends that I have made since I moved to France are delightful, valued more than they may realize. I think when I look back the bumps will not seem so serious — still no completed house, for example, but completion is bound to happen, some time — and I will be able to focus on the many blessings that I have received.

Recently I read that in most traditions the belief is that the spirit moves from earth to the spirit realm, whatever a given society believes that to be, by the end of three years. Could be less but rarely more. My life has had that feeling to it. I could call up Robert to help solve a problem, help me fall asleep, face a difficult issue, whatever. Toward the end of three years, that feeling faded. Robert was never one to stick around unnecessarily or have any trouble adapting to a new situation. I think he’s on his way now. If a major issue comes up, can I call on him again, bring him back from wherever? I don’t know. I sure hope so.

So happy birthday, to someone who is now outside time, to whom a birthday has no meaning. You are loved and missed, every single day. When days and birthdays no long mean anything to me, I hope to see you again.