Our son, Max, and my Mom are safe in Mexico after yesterday's earthquake. We are saddened by the news and our thoughts and prayers go out to Mexico. Before hearing the news, I had planned on sharing the story of my 90-year-old reader from Florida who is traveling solo in France...looking to start a new chapter in Antibes, considering a job, and maybe a French girlfriend. Inspiring story below.
: onward! full steam ahead. Let's go! Press on!
Le secret d'une longue vie? C'est "En avant!" comme dit Lou Bogue
The secret to a long life? "Press on!" as Lou Bogue says.
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse
The last time we saw Lou was at our 2010 harvest in Sainte Cécile. He was 80-something at the time. Well, on September 30th Lou will turn 90 -- while on vacation in France.
...Unless Lou's vacation turns into a long-term commitment! "Do you think I could find a job?" Lou asks over lunch at our neighborhood restaurant here in La Ciotat. Jean-Marc, who is sharing the booth, looks doubtful (owing to French bureaucracy or Lou's age?)....
In order to pursue his dream of moving from Florida to Antibes, Lou's going to need an income. "You may be able to work under the table," I say in a kidding way (I am only kidding if the French authorities are reading....). I look across the table to the man with bright blue eyes, rock star long locks (in white), and a slight hunch (I hadn't noticed when he arrived, earlier, after a two-hour grape harvest with Jean-Marc at a friend's vineyard). "I lost a few inches of height after a car accident in my 50s!"
Lou pokes around at his plate of fish (he doesn't eat meat), apologizing for not being able to eat it all. Next, he tells us he walked everywhere, last week, in Paris. "Had no problems with the Métro. So easy to get around... I just needed more time to see everything. I want to see everything!"
This, dear reader, is one secret of Lou's good health and longevity. "Yes, it is my outlook. I want to be around to see what happens next!" Lou cited everything from Elon Musk to, well, grapes! He has been following our chapter by chapter story since our kids were very little. And when Jackie designed her first raincoat, Lou wrote in to the comments, sharing he once worked for London Fog. Every one-line blog comment before and since has been a great source of encouragement to me and my family. Lou is, as you'll soon learn, a born coach (his mentor was a famous basketball coach named John Wooden. Read about him).
Lou's had several jobs since high school (one of his life regrets is not graduating and furthering his education. His other regret is not coming to France at the age of 50, and following all of his dreams back then. I look over at my husand, who turned 50 this year and left his career in wine farming...to follow his own heart).
To see Lou and Jean-Marc sitting side by side across from me in the booth is chanceux to say the least. Two amazing men, 40 years apart....
There is so much I want to tell you about both men, especially Lou--on whom I've scribbled a page of notes, everything from "golf passionate" to his favorite BedyCasa (rooms for rent in France) to "Press on!" (Lou's advice when aches and pains set in "Just press on. There is so much to see and do. What good is it to complain or pay to pay attention to pain?").
Yes, there is so much I want to tell you about Lou, but, like Lou, I'm beginning to feel an itch to get outside and experience life, to spend less time behind a computer screen (my husband signed off Facebook. I wonder if I will do the same?). Lou understands that! He's torn between writing his own story and living his story. How I can relate!
"I can write it all down later," Lou decides. I want to live past a hundred. And why not to 130?" Lou smiles, and my eyes jump back and forth between my husband's face and the soon-to-be 90-year-old's. Both men have wrinkles. And both have grins. But for a 40-year lapse, they are just a couple of extraordinary guys.
So it's no use selling Lou on blogging as a way to earn some cash to pay for his living expenses. "Well, maybe I can find a French girlfriend," Lou lights up.
That's good, but I have another idea: knowing that Lou's dream has always been to be a coach. "why don't you be a coach in the modern sense of the word? You could coach people on lifestyle issues. You are such an encourager, Lou, and a real inspiration! You emanate it!"
Before I say goodbye to Lou, I want to know more about his good health. "I know you don't eat meat but can share more about your diet?"
"At eighty, I began to reduce sugar and salt...there is already so much of it in everything we eat! And I love yogurt. Eat a lot of it to keep my bones strong for walking!"
"What about stress," I ask Lou, who is leaning back so casually on my couch.
"I don't know stress!!"
"Well, everyone has stress," I argue. "What if you are about to miss a plane. And you are running...running for the gate?"
"I won't run for any gate. I'll take the next plane."
* * *
I hope you found some inspiration in our friend, Lou. Lou could not say enough about his own source of inspiration, Coach Wooden. To understand more about Lou's outlook, read one of John Wooden's books.
An old comment I found from Lou:
Hello, I never miss your blogs and I will never forget the 2 days i spent clipping your grapes and our conversation under the mulberry tree and our pic that you posted on your blog and the great pics i have of all the folks that helped on that harvest and the reason i came to your farm, after meeting Chief grape at a wine tasting here in Tampa, set up by our mutual friend Charles. I regret not being able to find the farm last year but as Jean-Marc, explained on my call, that it had not been a good day, something to do with equipment. I am blessed to have met you all, will be 85 this Sept. but good memories never die, much good luck to you and yours. Lou
As Lou says, "Good memories NEVER die." Let's all go out and make some good memories today! Here is one from our daughter's 20th birthday, Monday. I asked her to imagine herself, 70 years from now, traveling solo to one of her favorite destinations. Whether you have 5, 10, or 70 years ahead of you -- so much to do and see. En avant, dear reader, en avant!
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi