bereaved mothers, death of a child, Loire Valley, Mona Lisa, Peter Sellers movie, rainbow, writing group
Not everyone in our writing group knows this story, so I am sharing it partly for our group. Every time I think of it, I smile.
Last September, twelve of the bereaved mothers from a writing group that has continued for almost eleven years now, traveled to France to spend a week in a chateau in the Loire valley. Some of us spent another several days in Paris after our writing week at the chateau. We have so many stories to share from that time. Here’s one:
Peggy and I went together to the Louvre and accomplished the touristy task of standing in a crushing mass of people nudging ever so slowly forward to get a glimpse of the tiniest little Mona Lisa. When I finally managed to hold my phone still for a photo—everyone has to have one—someone bumped my arm and my photo is tilted to one side and a little blurred too. Oh well.
After we were released from the Mona Lisa crowd, we wandered along a corridor and stopped at a sculpture titled “Jeune Fille,” a young girl. For a moment, I thought of our both standing in front of this sculpture, both of us having lost our daughters, both longing for their presence. We have shared so many memories, so many stories of our children that although we did not meet them, we feel we know them. Elizabeth and Rebecca, our daughters, both died in the same year, both teenagers, both suddenly.
Then I felt a drip. In the Louvre?! I looked down to see a small puddle of water, a flaque d’eau—only I was not nearly quick enough on the translation to call forth the phrase at that moment. Peggy and I both looked down at the puddle then up at the ceiling, the very high ceiling. We could see a wee little dark spot where water was seeping in and dripping down—right beside Jeune Fille. We both gasped at the same time. The young girl in the Louvre was threatened by the rain seeping in through the roof. WE must save her!
Now I thought we must be in an old Peter Sellers movie as Peggy rushed toward the center of the crowd saying, “We have to find someone to tell about the puddle.” Neither of us had a great command of the French language. (I’m so sorry, Mlle. Snow, that I did not remember all you tried to teach me in high school French class.)
When we saw a person with a name tag clipped to his jacket who appeared to be an attendant, Peggy touched his sleeve (or maybe she tugged on it) and tried to tell him about the leaky ceiling. He recoiled as if we were both trying to harm him. Peggy told him excitedly about the puddle.
“Je ne comprends pas,” he said to Peggy’s frantic gestures toward the sculpture. We made huge arm motions to beckon him to the sculpture. Finally he followed us back to Jeune Fille and he gasped too as he looked down at the puddle then up at the drips from the ceiling. Then he offered his most gracious “mercis” to us.
That’s how Peggy saved the Louvre on a rainy day in September.
And when we came downstairs from that gallery, there on the floor of the Louvre was this swath of rainbow light.
Leaky ceilings and famous art, young girls missing and rainbows appearing at our feet: just an ordinary day at Musée du Louvre.
And there are so many more stories. Stay tuned.
Carol Henderson said:
I think “Peggy Saves the Louvre” ought to be the title of a children’s book. Peggy, you could write and illustrate it. 🙂
Kay Windsor said:
I treasure that day spent in the Louvre with a sister and an artist. And I think our daughters might have been laughing with us too.
Peggy Clover said:
Oh Kay, You told it perfectly.
Marianna Crane said:
I can see you both trying to get close to the Mona Lisa and then trying to get the attendant’s attention.
We were in Paris last year–such a lovely city but unfortunately we, too, ran into haughty Parisians.
Wonderful that Americans saved the day!
Jeri Goldstein said:
Kay, as a good friend of Peggy’s I really appreciate this story – I can picture and feel every aspect of it. Thank you so much for writing it all up!
Monica Sleap said:
I wish we could have caught Kay and Peggy on film during their Louvre visit that day in Paris!
Carol Henderson said:
I wish I could have been there to watch that entire scene. As Kay said, some of us didn’t get to stay in Paris for all those days. Sigh. Somebody needs to write about our “group” trip to the Orangerie to see the Monet waterlilies–and the series of events that day! Since Dottye wrote the long complaint to the Orangerie staff maybe she should write up the story.