Six days, twenty-two hours and fifteen minutes until I leave the US to start my return trip to France. But who’s counting?
When I moved to France three years ago it felt like I was going so far away from family and friends that we’d lose touch. Instead, I’ve returned to the States for 5-6 months each year. The first return visit was for Christmas and to await the birth of my first grandchild. The second, I was detained after Christmas with a surprise tooth implant. This year I’ve been here 5 months to “granny nanny” the two-year old grandson and to welcome my second grandchild — a baby girl.
Now that my son and daughter-in-law have assured me their family is complete, I plan to spend only a few weeks in the states each year in the future. Only time will tell how that works out.
Two different worlds
There’s no question that my life in France is vastly different than my life in the US. It’s “culture shock” when I move from one place to the other. How can you begin to compare living alone in a twelfth century tower to living with a family with small children?
Friends are friends
One of the first friendships I made in Uzes was with a couple from the UK who lives part-time in France. When I confided to them that I hadn’t made many friends in Uzes during my first year, they told me it would take three years before I would really began to make close friends. So true. Last year, my third season in Uzes, I met expats and locals I’m sure will be my friends for the rest of my life.
In the US it’s friends who keep me busy and entertained while I’m stateside. This year, for example, I’ve traveled with friends to London, to the Cotswolds; from Las Vegas, Colorado and Nevada to Florida. I’ve stayed with friends up and down the Carolina coast. Some have been friends of mine since we were children.
I drove a snowmobile and looked out over the US Continental Divide …
… And I spent my birthday on a dog sled pulled by a team of huskies.
How does it feel to leave for France again?
To be honest, it’s going to be hard to leave my two-year old grandson. I’ve spent almost half of his life with him while on home visits. He’s grown from an infant to a little boy who can say “Grandma.” My new granddaughter will be a toddler when I see her next.
If you think I haven’t given this a great deal of thought, you’d be wrong.
On the other side of the coin, I’m living my dream in France.
Someone told me about a TV show that aired recently with Dr. Phil. For those who aren’t familiar with Dr. Phil, he hosts a talk show in the US where he counsels guests with various family issues. On this day a 70-year old couple were on stage with him, along with their 40-year-old son. The son had returned home to live and it was causing problems. Dr. Phil drew a line on the studio floor with a zero at one end and the number “84” at the other end. “This represents the life expectancy of an average person today,” he said. “Eighty-four years,” he continued. “I want you to stand on the line at the spot that represents your age,” he said to the parents. “Now I want you to look ahead at how many years you have left.”
He repeated the exercise with the 40-year-old son.
It was clear to all the viewers and the guests. The parents had only fourteen years ahead of them. The son had a lifetime.
Dr. Phil’s exercise hit home with me, too. And with my 40-year-old son who I’ve been staying with in the US. We both realize I’m coming close to the end of my “timeline.” How do I want to spend the time that’s left? It’s all up to me. Today, I want to get back to my life in France. I want to return to the US less often yet I want to stay close to my family. With airline travel, technology and God’s will, all things are possible.