We weathered the storm in Phoenix. More, in today's letter. (Pictured, my niece "Ray-Ray".)
remonter le moral
: to lift one's spirits, to cheer somebody up
Audio File: listen to the following words: Download MP3 or Wav file
A Phoenix, je suis allée rendre visite à ma soeur pour lui remonter le moral. I went to Phoenix to visit my sister and cheer her up.
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
I made a pact with my family when I offered to come to Phoenix last month. I wouldn't tell anyone I was visiting. This way, instead of juggling the where and when and how to meet up with friends--I could focus on just one thing: ma soeur.
I felt terrible about the unfriendly omission, but travelling from Marseille to Paris--on to Dallas then Phoenix--I had one goal in mind: to help my sister during a difficult time. And though I knew local friends would be happy to assist, this was a sensitive and personal time punctuated by delays and changes of plans.
To ease the guilt of not contacting friends, I reminded myself I was on standby--I was here in the desert to stand by my sister. The current situation at Heidi's was stop and go. We'd be headed to the garage, to pack up its contents, or on our way for a needed coffee break when my sister's cell phone would ring again. With it the familiar sinking feeling....
I would look over at my sister, watching as her strength kicked in yet again. Clutching her phone, her eyes blinked as she tried to focus. For a moment she quit biting her lips. But when she hung up the phone the latest news sank in, along with those gnawing teeth.
Despite the atmosphere, we laughed as much as we could. Still, it wasn't funny to witness the doors closing all around my sister--and sometimes falling off the hinge!
When the knob fell off the kitchen drawer as I was putting away the silverware, Heidi said don't worry about it. I watched her reach down, pick it up, and jam it back into place before carrying on with dinner, the laundry, and the kids' homework.
And when I went to step into the shower my sister warned, "That one doesn't work." Then, when I dried my hands at the towel rack, it fell, hitting the tile counter-top with a loud clang!
I used the powder room with trepidation. The glass wine cooler that was stored there made these menacing popping sounds. I was sure the minute I sat down the ice box facing me would detonate, sending shards of glass flying! As my body anticipated the sharp-edged attack I could feel what it must be like for my sister to live in this constant state of alert, never knowing what was around the corner.
Driving back from the airport my sister rolled down her window to let in the evening breeze--but we both startled when the glass dropped--right into the door unit below. The cool night air turned into a cold chill that had my niece (in the back seat) asking for the window to be rolled up again. "I'm sorry, Honey. It's broken."
I listened to my sister comfort her daughter, who now needed a blanket. That missing blanket spoke volumes.
"Here, Ray-Ray. Take my coat." I smiled handing my jacket to my 10-year-old niece. But it would take more than a few down feathers to comfort a family in transition.
Thankfully our Aunt and Uncle arrived, bringing with them good cheer. Next, Marsha and Dad came to offer long walks and funny stories for my niece and nephew. And, last but not least, Brian was there-- having been there all along.
It's tricky to tell a story without telling the story. I hope I was able to update you, all the same, on last month's "sabbatical." I'm happy to say that if all those doors were closing behind my sister, a great big door has opened before her and, with it, a soul-mate to carry her over the threshold.
At the Camelback Inn, Phoenix. That's my nephew, Payne. But we call him Blurr--that's how fast he is on the football field! There's my niece Reagan--and that's me, left, and my sister, right. Hugged in between us are Marsha and Dad.
With my niece. Brian calls her "Small Fry" and she loves the French translation Petite Frite. Hello Petite Frite, are you keeping up with our French Word-A-Day agreement? Love, Big Fritte.
(Maybe you are wondering "Why the black down coat in Phoenix?" That's because we were also in Denver... Denver friends, I promise to meet up next time. Thanks for your understanding!)
As you can see, my sister is surrounded by support. But wishes of bon courage never hurt anyone.... (That's Brian, right, and Luci and Linus, Brian's sheepdogs, front.)
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