Sunday, May 21, 2017

Cher Claude...

Claude died recently.  He suffered from cancer, but held on to life for a remarkably long time.  We didn't know him well, but he played a very important role in our lives here in Paris.

Claude's wife comes to our French/English conversation group.  One day Judith mentioned that we had been rejected by the French healthcare.  One thing led to another and some months later we found ourselves in their apartment.  Claude had kindly offered to help us sort through our correspondence to see if he could figure out how we could succeed where earlier we had failed.

After thirty or forty minutes of conversation, reading, thinking, and more conversation, Claude said he felt he'd figured it out.  It was recommended that we do two things.  First, apply for health care after les vacances in juillet et août.  Second, from January 1st of the year until the time we applied, Claude told us to not leave France.

For our first attempt at getting France's single payer health insurance we'd traveled for four days outside the country and our passports had a stamp in them that showed this.  It turns out that even though you can ask for health insurance after living here three months, one of the details is that one really needs to live here continuously for six months from the beginning of the civil calendar which start January 1st of the new year.  Add to this that the French state goes on holiday starting in July and suddenly we realized that it was unlikely anyone would process our application until September.  So we stayed in France from January thru August and submitted our request as soon as everyone was back from vacation.

Thanks to Claude, we now have our Cartes Vitales.

He had wanted us to see where he'd grown up and to show us what's left of the old quartier.  It sounded interesting, but we soon heard that Claude's health was failing and that the doctors did not know why.  Unfortunately we never saw Claude again.

The funeral was held at Pere Lachaise.  Anyone who follows this blog already knows how much I love the old cemetery.  Some of my photographic work of the site was published a couple years ago by Lenswork Magazine.  Jude and I spend time there on nice days just to enjoy the peace and quiet.  We never thought we'd be there to rend honneur to someone we knew.

Just this week Claude's wife came to the conversation groupe and asked Judith and I if we would go with her one last time to the maison de retraite where he spent his last days.  She wanted to light a candle and to walk around a bit.

It was a warm and sunny day and some of the residents were in the courtyard.  Such a strange experience it was.  Coming from America where death and dying are such difficult subjects, what we saw was profoundly different.  We saw how tender and caring family members were with the dying.  We listened to their sweet and engaging conversations.  We could hear traffic on the streets, but it was muffled.  The songs of birds drifted down from the trees.

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