Thursday, April 26, 2007
Monsieur’s grandfather passed away.
He was 98 years old. When he was born in that little village in Gascogne (Gascony), there were no paved roads leading in or out of town. World War I was still five years away, and everyone in his family lived within walking distance of each other.
He fought for his country and for the world in six different conflicts, for three different countries. He also converted the family business from a manufacturer of horse tackle to a global security information consultant firm. He never officially retired; instead he would “advise and consult” with Monsieur’s father by phone from his home. He went from writing with a fountain pen to faxes and e-mails. He was active up until about three weeks ago, when he felt “tired” and went to bed. After that, he only got up to go vote in the Presidential election, and then went back to bed. He died yesterday (Wednesday). We just found out a couple of hours ago.
Bigglest Boy remembers meeting him, but to the boy, the old guy was just an old guy. Middlest Boy was just a baby, and Littlest Boy had not even been born. Middlest Boy rather idolizes both his grand-père and his grand-grand-père - “You know, they both fought the GERMANS.” Like, with their bare hands and a burning tree branch, they held off Panzer divisions or something.
Turns out the old guy was a bit of a spy and resistance fighter in a small way, keeping tabs on equipment that the Germans and Vichy were moving around. His son, Monsieur’s dad, was helping move little notes back and forth, doing what he could too, as he ran deliveries, cigarettes and prescriptions, first on foot and later on bicycle.
The elder was a fun guy, from what I heard, and had a million stories and opinions, and tried to make the most out of every day.
Monsieur’s father arranged to purchase airplane tickets for, the note said, “[Monsieur] (and family), and [Monsieur’s sister Mademoiselle].” I’d thought he would be going with the boys and I would stay home. But Monsieur said that I was specifically invited, and that I must go, if I’m willing. I’ve got my passport.
I’ve got no decent shoes to wear, since my last good pair disintegrated. But, I hear they sell shoes in France.
We’ll be gone just till next Wednesday at the latest.