Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Visit to Marie Jeanne

 The morning after we got home from Maryland we re-packed just a couple of things and left for San Bruno, California.  There was a ton of construction all along the freeway and so it took us over 13 hours to drive there.  Our trip took us to 3 places; San Bruno to see John's sister, Santa Rosa to go to my old friend's reunion with our friends from many, many years ago, and San Diego to see Anna.
 The San Francisco Bay Area has a very large Basque community.  Many of the Basques from France immigrated to San Francisco many years ago and many of them have since moved to homes all around the Bay Area.  They have all done very well.  They have raised their children to become good, moral, well educated people and good citizens.  They have contributed to their communities.  They have integrated their lives and are good Americans and they have also kept their cultural identities and language.
In 1982 a group of Basque families got together and built The Basque Cultural Center in South San Francisco.  This center has 2 banquet rooms, a Pilota (hand ball) court, other small rooms and a wonderful restaurant.  Marie Jeanne, John' sister, and her husband Arnaud were 2 of the founders.  This center is very popular and the restaurant is very well know with visitors and patrons coming from all over.  Each year they host the Pilota Championship games.  The bench above was put their in memory of Arnaud.  It has a plaque with his name (Arnaud Idiart) on it.
 Whenever we visit the area, we always go there to eat.
 We had Sweat Potato soup which was so delicious.
 Some of us had Sweetbreads with rice. Very, very tasty.
 Others had either Duck Confit or Duck a l'orange.  Also very tasty.  They make the best food there.
Our visit was bittersweet.  Marie Jeanne who has always been a very vibrant, active, wonderful, loving woman is declining a lot.  It was very sad for us to see her like this.  She has 3 different care givers coming in to help her, but truth be told I don't really see that they are doing very much.  We met Gloria, the girl who comes to help her with her medications and she was very nice and friendly and seems to be doing her job, but the other 2 who should be caring for her personal needs and her home do not seem to be doing their jobs.  Her lovely home which was always in good order, clean and nice is in disarray and not clean.  Her personal hygiene is also not being taken care of.  It is soooooo very sad because M.J. was aways perfectly groomed, hair professionally done every Sat, clothes perfect, etc.  It is totally not her fault.  She is already 85 and she can't remember to do things anymore. Her short term memory is gone.  She is lonely and discouraged.  Luckily her son is coming to get her next week to move in with her family up north.  I think this is a good thing.  Her family will be taking care of her.
Life is difficult. People age and then they are often not themselves.  It's worse when they realize it's happening, but have no control over the changes.  I believe it is a huge test not only for the person, but for those who love them and are around them.
We loved seeing M.J.  and talking about old times and looking at photos, but the general feeling was one of great sadness.  M.J.'s children and grandchildren have made some beautiful photo albums for her in which they have written beautiful thoughts and sentiments for her.  I read those aloud to her and she loved it.  She remembered the events and really enjoyed hearing all the wonderful things about herself.  I was happy to see her get so much enjoyment and so many laughs.  We love her.


Connie said...

You guys are travelers! How nice that you were able to go see your loved ones. It's sad to see them age and decline. It's good you were able to see her. We just never know how long they'll be around.

allison nadauld said...

What a nice visit. I'm sure Marie Jeanne enjoyed seeing you very much. It has been a real journey helping my Amatchi through her decline. I know my parents and my Otto Roger have been so concerned and are actively doing all they can to care for her while keeping in mind her wants and needs. We are so happy she has decided to join us full time. We hope you can visit us sometime too!