25 February 2015

Our French dream ends...

We were two romantics, in love with each other and with France. We met in the 1990’s, retired (early) ten years later, sold up and went to live in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

Life was idyllic. My writing about the place featured in newspapers, magazines, journals, even a couple of books. 

Particularly popular with American readers was my Blog. Many contacted me, became virtual friends. I've got standing invitations to the USA.

Our good life continued until, in December 2012, Larry felt unable to face the future in France. He suddenly announced he must return to Ireland.

Explaining his need to be ‘among family & old friends’, he convinced himself life would be better there. He never convinced me.

Prostate cancer had been diagnosed and had advanced into his bones. We knew there would be no happy ending. His decision shocked me, but how could I argue?

Weeks earlier, we had gone to Portugal for the winter, but Larry hated it, endlessly compared it to France and in no time, we drove north, up through Portugal and Spain, and up the west coast of France to La Rochelle.

We had a plan in the future, to leave the Pyrenees and move there. But Larry’s decision to return to Ireland cancelled all French plans. Four days later we boarded the ferry.

Horrified at leaving France and a life I loved, with my mind reeling, I walked the deck of the ship and tried to imagine what was to come, what challenges lay ahead. The immediate challenge was a simple one: warm clothes. We had packed for a sunny Portuguese winter, and having bypassed our area on the drive back, all our winter clothes remained in the foothills of the Pyrenees, while we sailed north to Ireland, in a freezing December.

The friendly & familiar Marine hotel at Sutton, on the coast outside Dublin city would be our base while I organised our future, beginning with somewhere to live.

Anyone who has come back to the bosom of ‘family & old friends’, will spot the comedy elements such a complex situation is bound to produce.

From the leisurely laid back life of rural France, we found life in Ireland to be a super crazy existence. Endless medical appointments, with individuals in various fields, plus re-connecting with friends and family, meant an enormous cast of characters came into our life.

Despite the circumstances, the horrific illness, the very reason we were here, there were times when both of us felt we had joined some daft comedy, with characters created by Woody Allen.

Into our life, onto our stage they marched, the good, the not so good and the downright peculiar. And in doing so, they provided hours of entertainment in the eighteen months that followed.

Larry & I, despite becoming utterly exhausted, kept our sense of humour, our love of comedy, until almost the end.

In early May 2014, we watched Midnight in Paris together one last time.

A few days later my buddy, with whom I had shared so many adventures, went asleep for good.


  1. Thank you for a beautiful journey Jane Shortall. You told your touching tale both verbally and visually without any cloying sentimentality. The ending was perfect. A fitting tribute to your beloved buddy! Sending you all good thoughts and thak you for sharing.

  2. Dear Jane, so glad I found this. I agree with Mary above--but after six years can only say that she may have misstated the end, unless she meant the end of the blog post, of course.

    1. No Joan, I most certainly didn't mean the end of Jane's blog which I see as a new and different journey that I hope Jane will continue to travel. What I meant by a *perfect end* referred solely to the ending of this particular episode with the evocative scenes from the Woody Allen film ... the beauty of Paris and the charming music. Perhaps I didn't make that clear enough in my initial post and if so my apologies. I'm the type who refrains from spelling out everything too much ... it's just my way. Nice to see you again Joan. Regards Mary S :)

    2. No Joan, I didn't mean the end of Jane's Blog. Rather I see it as a new journey for Jane, a journey with hurdles and sad memories but knowing Jane she will reach her goal and destination, being the strong, courageous woman that we all got to know. Re the *perfect end* comment, this was a reference to the Woody Allen evocative scenes that Jane painted for us with the charming music. I saw it as the ending of the first prelude. Apologies to you and anyone else who misunderstood. I tend not to spell our things ... it's just me! Nice to hear you again Joan and hope you're keeping well. Mary :)

    3. Oh Mary-- mea culpa. I was trying for a small joke, at an inappropriate place and time, I'm afraid. It's just that I'd like Jane to know how precisely I feel for her, but also to suggest that I begin to know that the hole will never close. After 57 years of woleness, I know mine seems to grow slowly larger...