Many of you will have met out neighbour Roger and will remember that his mother has been in residential care in St Félicien for the past two years. In all that time Roger has visited her without fail every afternoon, sitting with her and holding on for as long as possible to the special bond which united them.
Two weeks ago her condition deteriorated such that she needed to be moved to the hospital wing and it was obvious that she was nearing the end of her long life. Roger continued his visits, the family was there to celebrate her 97th birthday on March 17th and her son stayed by her as she slipped away, finally leaving us four days later.
We were at the funeral on Saturday and are doing our best to help Roger come to terms with his loss, together with his cousins and the many concerned neighbours who drop in to sit with him. We all hope that, in a little while, he will be able to contemplate the much needed hip operation which would enable him to dispense with crutches and get out into the fields once again. His cousin Marc has brought a couple of cows up to the farm so that, along with Tango the dog and six assorted cats, there is some life and movement around him and Roger doggedly works away at small routine jobs: cutting back the broom, repairing fences and looking after his hens but he is severely restricted and it is a struggle for him.
For Roger and his mother, their life was the farm and to be outside on the land gives meaning to it. These pictures were taken about four years ago – la Mémé was already well over 90, but she insisted on helping by gleaning the last wisps of hay from the fields, tucking her walking stick – which she hardly needed – into the gnarled old hands holding the rake. A real picture of a countrywoman.
Happily, Spring is coming and we hope that as the countryside wakes up and bursts into leaf and flower, Roger will find the strength to continue the life he has always known and to take courage from the changing seasons and the rhythm of the land.