Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Flashback: June 1985

After graduating from high school, I hopped on a plane with my dad, my always-adventurous grandmother, and my older brother for a month-long sojourn through France. We started in Paris, where my father had an experiment running with colleagues there. My eighteenth birthday befell while we were in Paris, so we went to a swanky dinner at Au Petit Marguery, where I enjoyed my first kir royale. My dad wanted to check on his data after dinner, so I spent the wee hours of my birthday evening collating data onto graph paper while he tinkered.

It was a marvellous trip. We motored somewhat aimlessly throughout the countryside, got derailed by the Tour de France, and ended up discovering marvellous, Michelin-starred country restaurants that we'd never have come across under ordinary circumstances. We made it as far north as the Belgian border, and I spent a pleasant break from motoring riding a quarter horse in Belgium. Porquoi pas?

My grandmother was a terrific shopper, and her prize purchase on this trip was a large, gorgeous stained glass hanging in the shape of an exotic bird, with an oval mirror in the center. She was terrified that it would break in transit, and had the shop wrap it with utmost care. The mirror spent the entire flight home clutched tightly but gently on my grandmother's lap, swaddled in yards of bubble wrap.

The mirror arrived unscathed, and occupied pride of place in my grandmother's living room for over 20 years. When she died last September and attention turned to dispersing her vast collection of trinkets, objets, and miscellany amongst my mother and aunts, the stained glass mirror was the once piece I felt strongly about. It now hangs in our foyer, where it catches the morning light through the large dining room window.


On Tuesday evening, Michael, the kids, my parents, and I are flying to Paris for eight days, and my younger brother and his girlfriend are meeting us there. Au Petit Marguery is still open, and we will certainly take time out from museum-crawling and patisserie-scrounging to enjoy a meal and a kir royale there. It would please my grandmother to no end to know that her modest inheritance is financing this trip for us -- I only wish she could be there to see her great-grandsons' eyes light up when they see the Eiffel Tower at night, or bite into a fresh pain au chocolat for the first time. How she would have loved it.

As if there were not already sufficient emotional undertones to this trip, my father received his biopsy results yesterday. All negative. Clean bill of health. We take off next week unfettered and free as birds.


Anonymous said...

Have a WONDERFUL trip!

Magpie said...

Happy to hear about your father, and jealous to hear about your trip. Have a nice time!

Anonymous said...

That sounds fabulous!!! So glad to hear your dad's good news. Have a wonderful trip...and don't be so sure your grandmother won't be there. She will be there in spirit enjoying every minute right along with you.

MemeGRL said...

What a fabulous way to start a trip. We took a most-of-the-extended-family trip to Ireland a few years back (pre-kids for us though not others) and it was a great event we still talk about and cherish. May it be the same for you. Bon voyage!

Anonymous said...

Have a wonderful time!

I am glad to hear your dad is doing well and you will have the time to spend with your lovely family. Your grandmother would be pleased indeed! Please have a drink for me and her while you are there.

Au revior, mon amie!

AnnL said...

Sooooo glad your father's test results were all negative.

What a wonderful memory and what a great way to share that memory with your children, especially since your grandmother indirectly is helping to finance it.


Lauren D. McKinney said...

I do love to start the day with a pain au chocolat and to fortify myself before dinner with a kir royale!

Hope you feel better soon and can't wait to hear more about your trip.