Home sweet home. We will miss it.

effacer (ay-fas-ay) verb
  to efface, obliterate, delete; to wash out, wipe out

Il faut des torrents de sang pour effacer nos fautes aux yeux des hommes, une seule larme suffit à Dieu. It takes torrents of blood to erase our mistakes in the eyes of men, a single tear suffices for God. --François René de Chateaubriand

Four weeks before D-day,* and I find myself obsessing about the child size fingerprints along the door frames and switch plates throughout our house and will I remember to unclog the shower drain? I must wash the walls, scour the sinks, and rub out any remnants of a life, our life.

Not seven years ago we moved into this nest. I remember unpacking boxes in the pink tiled bathroom. Opening up the built-in armoire, to place our belongings, I found a few strands of hair in the drawers and make-up stains along the cupboard door: traces of another woman's life. Was it a happy one?

The pink tiles were removed long ago, the walls painted over in an unforgiving tone, as witnessed by the fingerprints which give themselves away like giggling toddlers hidden behind trembling curtains. (How they squealed when I found them! My children that is.)

As I wander in and out of the rooms, sponge in hand, erasing traces of my own vie* I hope that the future proprietor will forgive me for any remnants that I have unintentionally left behind.

The crumbs in the floor crevices, should one or two remain, tell stories of a testy maîtresse de maison* who tried, time and again, to get the damn loaf to come out right. The miettes* fell from the hands of sympathetic family members who braved their way through yet another batch of burnt biscuits.

That hole in the bathroom door, let me explain.... There is an old armoire crowded into the hallway, the sharp edge of which meets that door each night as my daughter flings open the latter, letting out the maximum amount of light to shine across the hall and into her room reassuring her that Dame
Blanche* is nowhere in sight.

The trail of pin marks along the wall (in the last room) held tacks which in turn held up champions: Boris Diaw, Steve Nash, and Samir Nasri; sports stars who spoke to a young Frenchman, if only between these four walls of my son's room.

And there, in the guestroom, along the pinewood floor you'll find a drop or two of ultramarine and indigo blue...paint from my artist mother's brush which she set down when she took up the battle within her breast, and won.

Mea Culpa for the tiny shard behind the oven. I'll admit to feeling a great relief at the time that wine glass slipped out of my hand...and slammed against the far wall. (Intentionally missing its target, who later forgave me as I forgave him.)

In these five rooms there have been passionate times as well as prayerful ones. We are moving on now, leaving the past behind, though our traces linger.

                                       *     *     *
"Words in a French Life" is full of stories that take place in this house: skip past the flying glass (or "plate-shattering" disagreements) in the book's intro and read about a fiery survivor: my mom. Don't miss it in paperback.
References: D-day = le déménagement (m) = moving, relocation; la vie (f) = life; la maitresse de maison (f) = lady of the house; la miette (f) = crumb; la Dame Blanche = "The Lady in White" = a ghost that haunts French children (and some adults)

:: Audio file ::
Hear my daughter pronounce today's French word and quote: Download effacer.wav
Il faut des torrents de sang pour effacer nos fautes aux yeux des hommes, une seule larme suffit à Dieu.

Terms & Expressions:
effacer une tache = to wipe out a stain
effacer le corps = to stand sideways
effacer les épaules = to throw back the shoulders
effacer quelque chose de sa mémoire = to erase something from one's memory
s'effacer = to become obliterated, to wear away; to fade

Verb conjugation:      
j'efface, tu effaces, il/elle efface, nous effacons, vous effacez, ils/elles effacent
past participle = effacé

Bonsoir Lune, the popular children's book "Goodnight Moon," in French
In Music: Tourist by Saint Germain -- not a lot of words, just waves of the sound kind
France Magazine
New French Country: A Style and Source Book

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety