In a way, I can’t wait for my parents to be old enough to live with me– Mom don’t hold me to that, if you’re bad, you’re still going to the home. And I can wait. The relationship between Claude and Margaret is something that I remember from when my grandmother lived with us. There are equal, but strong parts familiarity, fun, work, and love. They know each other in a way that can only come from working and living together day in and day out. Each is hard working and trustworthy, which contributes to how well things work, though I doubt either would admit that it works so well. When we were driving to the store today, Claude turned around and said “My mother is stupid, she lost one of her fingers in her glove” to which Margaret responded with her jolly laugh. I keep thinking about how my grandmother would have responded in the same way, how my mom will respond in the same way and how I will respond in the same way. Not to judge, I would never do that, but what fun to live with people who are so important to you–as long as everyone comes into it with a light heart.
Claude says it is a problem in France, people don’t know where to put the old people. The solution seems obvious. You put them in the house next door. You continue to rely on them and trust them with chores and jobs and you continue to incorporate them into your life and they continue to be important. There is a guy who works on the farm from time to time. His father is only 60 and has Alzheimer. I assume he lives with his son because everyday that Marciel is here, his dad is here too. He stands and watches his son work. It is not a burden after you realize he is not standing there judging you, which is what I thought he was doing until I learned he wasn’t. He is pleasant and though he is probably just a shell of his former self, I think he feels like he is doing something by being here. I think he gets dressed in the morning with some sense of purpose, which is what people always need.
Second thought. As I was standing outside the oil pressing room today waiting for the 10 liter bucket to fill with the top quality oil, I looked out across the valley. There was mist and smoke from the chimneys and lights shining down in patches, making the valley dark and green and gray. I was full from the stew that Margaret had made for lunch (goat, potato and tomato) and I thought for an instant that had I needed to put a price on this day it would be too high for me to afford. I know others would think differently, the day had not been easy, but it was full of beauty and simplicity and work and also organic food. Claude said to me while we were sorting the olives that the rich get the best things (this refers to the fact that her farm is certified organic and that the products were a bit more expensive). It’s true, we do pay more for this, but today we could have bathed ourselves in the organic olive oil coming from the spigot. I mean the last bit, a half a liter, Margaret said, ok, that’;s all, but that half a liter filled an Evian bottle and we took it home. When it came out it was dark brown from the residue, but has slowly separated. And the flavor of that oil is unreal. I thought while I was standing on the veranda waiting for the oil to fill the bucket that we spend so much money trying to create something so simple. A good meal, an expensive meal is nothing but good tastes, good quality food, great atmosphere, good company and time. We have all of those components here for practically nothing. I guess, good thing we are hard workers.
Last though of the day-not literally of course, I had other thoughts…I’m really proud again. I guess this means I’m happy. It does. Claude and Margaret keep saying after only two days of work, what good workers we are. Not only good workers, smart people, fast learners. That we don’t just work, that we do projects well. There is a difference and I love that they know it and know that we know it even though I don’t speak the same language at all. It makes me feel good that they understand by our actions. It means more to me. I’ve always felt that there was a difference, but never known how to put it into words. I think I learned it from my father (and my mother) who says “good enough for government work”, but is actually a perfectionist.