Le rivage: Mother-Daughter adventure in Beaulieu-sur-Mer
Rien qu'aujourd'hui (Only for Today): A "How To" for difficult times

They don't have that in France! In Memory of my brother-in-law

My brother-in-law leaves us with countless memories of his generosity, big heart, and Tell It Like It Is character. In today's missive, a few French souvenirs, in memory of Doug.

Today's Word: inoubliable

1. unforgettable
2. never to be forgotten

Merci pour ces inoubliables moments en famille, Doug.
Thank you for these unforgettable family moments, Doug. Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the French

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

My brother-in-law passed away eleven days ago, Sunday. He was fifty-nine.

My sister is currently helping to write Doug's obituary. I wish I could be there with Heidi, in Denver, to help her find the words, to sit beside her as we rifled through old photos and said a lot of Remember That Time Whens....

One thing I'll always remember about my beau-frère was his no BS attitude. And when it came to his belle-soeur in France there was plenty of nonsense to call out! Take shower curtains for example. Years ago, when Doug and Heidi came to visit, Doug left a pool of water on our bathroom floor. It just wasn't like him - he was tidy, in an everything in its place way. And water’s place is in the tub. (An impossible feat to keep it there when your hostess has no shower curtain!)

As we mopped up the salle-de-bains, using thick square cloths (des serpillières gaufrées) and a broom, Doug offered to buy us a plastic curtain...and a decent mop, for crying out loud! I can still hear my brother-in-law's voice, a bit sarcastic, often blunt, it cut through the nonsense and revealed what it is we were hiding behind (certainly not drapes!).

“Kristi, why don’t you guys have a shower curtain?”
“Uh... they don’t have shower curtains in France.”
“What? You don't have shower curtains in France? Oh, come on!”

At that moment in time (newly arrived in France, living in the countryside of St. Maximin), I believed it was true. After all, there wasn’t un rideau de douche in any of the homes I'd visited so far. I never saw them for sale at our tiny quincaillerie, but you could find dainty curtains (les brise-bise) at the hardware store. And they were nowhere to be found at our supermarché, (which, incredibly, began selling Halloween costumes one year!). It seemed to be yet another commodité moderne the French hadn't yet discovered--such as tumble dryers or drive-thru banking or one-hour dry cleaning...remind me to tell you about my beau-frère’s run-in with the sassy lavandière who refused to press more than 3 of his shirts. Doug was perplexed: “I guess they don’t have a business mentality in France either!”

There began a decades-long joke between my beau-frère and me. The ribbing always ended with some encouragement: “Kristi, I am sure France has (such and such). Go find it!”

Apart from Doug’s skill at calling out people’s BS, my brother-in-law was an excellent chef. He went all out on Thanksgiving (best turkey and stuffing bar none!) and his Christmas dinner was Michelin-star superb. But the simple fare, eaten casually around the kitchen island, in our pajamas, made me feel truly home again! We Froggies (as Doug called us) relished these American brunches which Heidi and Doug prepared as a team, serving up sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, toast, and waffles--and Mimosas and Bloody Marys too.

Doug's smoked ribs were another quelque chose you could not find in France! “You could make this, Kristi! Don’t give me that BS that you don’t have BBQs in France!”

“Well, we don’t have Green Eggs ® in France!”
“No, you probably don’t!” Doug smiled, proud of his new cooker.

The last time I saw my brother-in-law we were having breakfast together at Pancake House in Denver. This newly-forged tradition was a chance to reunite with The Froggies, Payne, Reagan (my niece and nephew), and Heidi (even after le divorce, the two were committed to family). Catching up over coffee and stacks of buttermilk pancakes, I told Doug about our recent predicament: "We keep getting locked out of Heidi's house," I laughed.

"You need an extra set of keys!" Doug said, offering to take we Froggies to the hardware store after breakfast. There at the quincaillerie, waiting for the key to be copied, my brother-in-law snickered. I'll bet they don't have Hide-A-Keys in France either!

I snickered back before a wave of nostalgia hit. Looking over at Doug, I saw his tired face, his baseball cap pulled low over his brow. He was not doing well. (In addition to sharing jokes about France, my brother-in-law and I shared the “Better Off Sober” etiquette…). Remembering all of my brother-in-law's caring gestures over the years, as well as his growing struggles, I didn't want our visit to end without due appreciation.

"That’s so like you to take care of these nagging details!" I blurted, waving the shiny new key in the air. "Thank you...for everything."

"Yah, well, if I didn’t do it you guys wouldn’t!" Doug laughed, before hugging us goodbye for the very last time....

* * *

Comfort Food. This morning I wanted to make meatloaf when I realized one ingredient was missing: Worcestershire sauce. In all the years I’ve been in France I have never bought a bottle. I am, finally, on my way out to search for it now. In a quincallerie? Beside the dainty curtains? Well, maybe not... I've gotta look harder!)

Thank you, Doug, for this and for your generous heart. PS, I know what you’re thinking: “Meatloaf? Oh, I get it: now you’re going to tell me they don’t have steak in France!”

Jean-marc heidi Stiteler doug kristi
New York 2008 Jean-Marc, my sister Heidi, Doug, me.

At the Pancake House in 2018, with Reagan, Jackie, and Payne.

= unforgettable, never to be forgotten
le beau-frère
= brother-in-law
la belle soeur
= sister-in-law
la salle-de-bains= bathroom
les serpillières gaufrées
= waffled cloths for washing floors
le rideau de douche
= shower curtain
la quincaillerie
= hardware store
le brise-bise
= half curtains (pictured here)
le supermarché
= supermarket
la commodité moderne
= modern convenience
la lavandière
= washerwoman
quelque chose
= something

une étiquette = label

Years ago. I'll never forget Doug demonstrating how to open a bottle of champagne with a sword! "Sabrage is a technique for opening a champagne bottle with a saber, used for ceremonial occasions."--Wikipedia

Max doug jackie
Max and Jackie will miss their Uncle Doug, who took them to sports events and spoiled them with fun times--memories they will always have.

That time Doug and Heidi brought Grandma Audrey to France! And treated us to dinner at Le Louis XV and a stay at l'Hôtel de Paris!
Doug heidi grandma kristi jimmy
Old photos, wonderful memories. We are still digging through pictures--bye for now....

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Lynn  McBride

Au revoir, Uncle Doug, you sound like such a great guy! My condolences to all your family.


These days of “best of times, worst of times” are still full of the ups and downs of living and dieing. May sufficient strength and courage from each day come from God above. Thinking of you,

Eileen deCamp

Dear Kristi,
I'm so sorry for your loss and I'm keeping Heidi and her children in my prayers! Doug sounded like a fun guy who liked to give you the business! So nice to have those memories!

Ronni Lester Ebbers

Condolences to you, and all of Doug's family. Those lovely memories, some of which you shared, I'm sure will bring you much comfort. Shed a tear but mostly smile when you think of Doug. He sounds like a man who relished life and would want to leave you smiling.

Susan Stafford

So very sorry for your family's loss but how wonderful to have such good memories of time spent together.

Tim Averill

So sorry for your loss in this year of loss for so many of us!

Suzanne Codi

I'm so sorry to hear about your brother-in-law, Kristi, it seems like he was a wonderful, fun man, and that you have many great memories of him. Our condolences to you and your whole family!

Mark Snyder

Good Friday to you,
Kristi sorry for your loss.My first takeaway is Big Green Egg is headquartered here in Tucker Georgia and a trade mission to France must occur.BGE are a slow food tool beyond compare.Food memories are always so important is our mental reservoir


My heart breaks for Doug leaving his kids and family at such a young age. His humor and his love language of cooking will be greatly missed by all of you. Thank you for sharing. I Love the shower curtain or lack of a shower curtain story!


So sorry to hear this Kristi, big hugs and love to you all. Ps Owe you a long catch up email. PPS British section of supermarkets will often have Worcestershire sauce!xxxx


My condolences to your family. The fact that we can’t travel makes these losses all the harder. May beautiful memories carry you all.


I am sorry for your loss. Life is precious. Thank you for the reminder. We need to cherish all the little things.

I appreciate your blog. Merci.


Condolences to all of you in the loss of Doug. As others have stated, he sounded like a wonderful man... if you deem appropriate it would be great to see what your sister wrote... I'm sure you're with her in spirit... keep your memories close...

GwenEllyn Anderson

My heart goes out to you and your family.

Leslie molnar-grabowski

Mes condoléances et ma sympathie à votre famille, Kristi. Merci de partager les sentiments très touchants!

jean b palmer

Condolences to you and your family on the loss of Doug. Thank you for sharing such wonderful memories and photos of all. Special sympathy that you cannot be with your sister and your niece and nephew at this time.
Take care.

Patricia Sands

My condolences for your family's loss, Kristi. Thank you for sharing some treasured memories in words and pictures. May Doug's memory be a blessing.

Mary Webb Walker

Praying for your entire family in the loss of Doug with less pain and more peace each hour.. My baby brother, Doug passed away 13 days ago, age 56. Thank you for le mot inoubliable.,

Gwyneth Perrier

I am so sorry, Kristi. My heart goes out to you and your family. What a beautifully written tribute to your beau-frère.


Kristin, So sorry for your loss. I like his attitude of no nonsense. A very sad time indeed but good to have those lovely memories.

drina nadler

I am so sorry. His energy will be missed
by all of you. Love, Drina

Robert Handloff

You have a photo of Uncle Doug with Max, who's holding a baseball. Was that a hit baseball that Uncle Doug either caught or retrieved somewhere in the grandstand or was it a bought one? If the former, then Max has a delightful, truly delightful souvenir from Uncle Doug, who was in the right place at the right time.

Karen Cafarella

I am so sorry for your families loss. Memories will help you all through this rough time.

Sending love and hugs your way.

Debbie Ambrous

I have 3 sympathy cards on my desk waiting for me to add my personal message for friends who lost their grandmother. I have sent so many cards, flowers and messages recently. Sad. I am sorry to hear about your family's loss. I remember seeing his name in your past stories. My condolences.

Cynthia GS

Just when you think it can't get worse, it does. I am so sorry for Reagan and Payne and Heidi. And you and JM of course. Keep Doug alive in your hearts. What a year ~ I only hope 2021 brings better times.


My heart goes out to you and your family. Offering prayers of comfort this morning. Grateful that you have such sweet memories, he sounds like a wonderful man.


I sympathize with your loss of the special people who blessed you with good times because they could not contain their joie-de-vivre. One of my brothers-in-law is quite ill at the moment and certainly this Thanksgiving and Christmas we will not be having any of his elegant cuisine nor his after dinner big screen musical videos and improvisational musical solos. I cannot even give him a big hug. I found the softest marine blue knit chemo cap, blessed it, and mailed it to him, and then I felt fall all my tears for him and for his family. Wherever I am on Thanksgiving and Christmas, there will be a place set for my brother-in-law.

Roseann Milano

Oh, Krisiti,
I'm so sorry to learn of you and your family's loss. It is so painful especially at this time.
My thoughts are with you.
My sympathy,

Cheryl in STL

I'm so sorry, Kristi. Events like this just heighten the sadness of the separation COVID is bringing to us all, making worse times the worst. I know you'd give anything to be with Heidi and her family right now.


Our dear Kristi,
we send heartfelt sympathies for your loss.You were blessed to have Uncle Doug in your lives,as he was to have all of you in his.
These are God's gifts.
When you are reunited the joy will be unending.
Arms around you.
Natalia. xo

Traci Nelson

I am so very sorry for your loss. It is especially hard to be so far away. This seems to be a theme for a lot of people these days. Keeping your whole family in my thoughts. Sincerest condolences.

Traci Parent Nelson

Susan Hodgson

My eyes are leaking water at your loss.He sounds like such a good soul. What wonderful memories you have of him.Prayers of love and care for you all at this time.


Sorry for your loss, Kristi. My heart goes out to you. My only living sister just passed away and it's brought up so many many memories. I loved what you wrote about your beau-frère, especially his wonderful way of reminding you to think outside the box! Sounds like an absolute gem of a guy! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your (and Doug's) family. Thanks for sharing.


So sorry for this loss! So many photos and memories to cherish as time passes. Doug will always be with you.💖


I am so sorry for your loss. It is so sweet of you to share with us. You have such a nice family. My prayers and love are with you. Rosemary

Carmen Clarke

So sorry Doug has passed away. Bon repose.


I am so sorry for your loss - we never have the people we love long enough. Everyday is very special. Prayers of strength for you and all the family.

Andrea Hughes

Condolences for the loss of a treasured family member. Doug sounds as though he was a dynamic, vibrant human who impacted all those who knew him. He will not be forgotten!


I am so very sorry for your loss. I am sending you my deepest condolences. Your words so beautifully described him that I felt as though I knew him and could hear his laugh. Losing dear friends and family causes a pain and ache that is felt deeply throughout the body. I know it is even more difficult that you are so far away from Heidi.

R L Jackson

I have always wondered why we always seem to lose our favorite family members either too young, when they’re too far away, or even before we can get to them to say goodbye and how much we love them. Death is hard enough. Why does it always seem to pack a dbl wallop? I had no siblings. My favorites were Jo, my cousin & huge mentor, who I grew up across from, Uncle Tommy, who I saw once a yr, (NY City), (my Favorite uncle, the funniest), and Alex, my first cuz, from MIA, who was a real war hero, a smart man, wild man, and wily fox, and as a young to middle adult simply was gorgeous, my first crush. My second Mother, who took care of me forever, Bibi, was the one, who when she died, it was like all hope was lost. In the space of 5 or 6 yrs, I lost all of them, plus my Dad. Your loss has really brought this back. I wish I could be there to lift you up, to offer tons of love, and to do something to help, or make you laugh. I can’t imagine losing a sibling; must be like losing my Dad. We’re older, it should be easier, but it is not. All of your readers love you and your family. Know that we’re all praying or whatever each of us does to try to comfort you through brain waves, wishing, feelings, and prior knowledge. You don’t deserve this, espec all you’ve had to go through. Stay well, and let it all out. You were so lucky to have him as long as you had him. Some poor folks never have what we’ve had. We are lucky, sort of. God Bless, stay safe. RL


You are often a reminder to me to seek out, and remember, the best aspects of a person, or maybe the positive side of any character trait ( for all traits have their dark side or problem when in excess). You have a gift for friendship, and it is no wonder that people seek out your company. It is also a kindness and compassion which we( I mean me, of course) each need to apply to our own quirks, even as we try to ameliorate them.
Please accept my condolences to all of your family.

Stacey C.

My deepest sympathy on the
passing of Doug.Your beautiful
memories will help you through
this difficult time.I will keep your
family in my thoughts.


I am sorry for the loss of your beloved Doug. You are all in my prayers, especially your sister and her children.


What a wonderful tribute! I’m sure all will miss him terribly. Thank goodness for all the good memories! My condolences to all the family!!

Leslie NYC

I am so sorry about Doug.
One death brings up all the others.


I am so sorry for your loss, But what a treasure he must have been to know.. I share some of your French BS, having lived in France for some 10 years, My friends who call me on it make me laugh, and Doug sounds like the wonderful person who did the same for you! Not being about to travel is hard now, we are all living in such a wierd sci-fi world. My heart goes out to you and his children and family, take care..


Oh Kristie,

I am so, so sorry for your families lose. May you all find peace and comfort in these memories and those many memories not shared here.

He sounds like the perfect brother-in-law and Uncle! I'm know he will be missed, but you remember him well and truly loved. I don't think there's anything better than that, and I believe you'll be reunited in Heaven. I believe Families are Forever.

And he's part of your forever family. xx

Your memories keep him close. Never forget him! xx

Kathleen Bidney

Sorry for your loss. Prayers to you and your family.
Peace, Kathleen

Lyn Frandsen

What a bountiful story of Doug. You were right on with the no BS when Doug was there. Lots of fun times and great meals with Doug and family We will certainly miss Doug

Sue Payne

Sending you and your family peace and love.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi.
How sad it is for your family to lose Doug...my heart breaks for you. But what a beautiful and honest tribute you have given him. Your hearts seem to be wrapped in love for him and happy memories of him. May that sustain you all through the grief of his loss...


I'm so sorry for your loss and your sister's. He seems like a helluva guy. As for "they don't have 'x'" in France, I go through that all the time with my daughter who runs a restaurant in the French Alps. However, France does indeed now have BBQ. In fact, it's one of the most popular dishes at their restaurant, along with other dishes not seen outside the US...



Dear Kristi and family, What a heartbreaking loss for all of you. May your memories sustain you. 💙

Sue J.

My deepest sympathies to you and your entire family with the loss of Uncle Doug.

Jeanine Woods

What a beautiful and moving tribute to Doug. There is no better way to remember the good times and wonderful memories than by sharing stories! My sympathies to you and your family, Kristi.

Linda Darsie

Je suis desolé....

Stacy Lund

Dear Kristi,

I am saddened for your family's loss. I wish you strength and comfort as you find your way through this tender time. My condolences to your family - especially to Heidi and her children. Sending love and prayers.

Lynne Chapman

Sincerest sympathies. May the happy memories continue to comfort you all. ❤️

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Merci for sharing Doug with us so vividly, Kristi, in anecdotes and pics. Warmest profound sympathy to Heidi, Reagan, and Payne and to all who knew and appreciated him. Thank goodness for our cherished souvenirs and memories of those we love and lose! ... and thanks to you for your eloquent and touching tribute to this special brother-in-law.

Steve Habgood

Kristi, I don’t think we got to meet along the way, but wanted to thank you for this special and spot-on tribute to Doug. I’m Doug’s cousin and was closest in age to him so we had a natural bond growing up together in Scottsdale. He was all as you described and more. I’m so glad you took the time to share these great memories and photos along the walk of life. My heart goes out to Heidi, Reagan, Payne and the entire family. Doug would probably say “It’s no big deal, get over it”, but he was a big deal and sad to know his life got taken way too early. Just as Heidi is, you are a very special woman and sending you and the family much love and support.

Marianne Rankin

I am so glad that because you have the FWAD, you have many pictures and stories of Doug - and thank you for posting some of them. It's good to "know" him, at least a little. I will pray for all of you.

Since Doug was a great cook, is there a recipe of his that you can share? I find that when we do things we used to do with a loved one, it makes them feel closer.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)