Friday, December 13, 2013

Let Bygones be Bygones

Yesterday I attended a village funeral. I've written before by how moving I find these ceremonies in this small community. This was the grandmother of one of the first families to welcome us here. She had lived a long life, dying at 94, and had never left this village working with her husband and later her daughter and grandson to make their living from the land. A hard life but a rewarding one. 

 Last weekend we had our annual money raising event for the Telethon (like the UK's Children in Need). A youngster in this village had benefitted from Telethon funds which paid for a super duper wheelchair and that is why we fundraise with such enthusiasm. Sadly he died a few years ago at the age of 15 but our support for the Telethon remains in his memory. 

We also had our annual event for the youngest and the oldest residents of the village. There is a Christmas craft workshop for the children and then songs and stories from the Club des AinĂ©s around the Christmas tree. Father Christmas didn't forget to call with gifts for children and for the over 70s and then drinks and chocolates to end the afternoon. 

A Christmas story

 I also spent two days last week helping the Banque Alimentaire (Food Bank). During the last weekend in November shoppers at supermarkets across France are asked to donate dry goods to the Food bank. I spent one day at a local supermarket helping with the collection of the gifts and one day at the base in Marmande helping sort all the donations for storage. It is very sad that more and more people are relying on food banks to help them eke out their small incomes and the gap between the haves and have nots keeps widening. 

 All of these events made me stop and reflect on how lucky I am. I live in a lovely house. I am warm and well fed. I have healthy children and grandchildren. I have a loving husband and caring friends and I have enough money to live comfortably. The weather has been very cold but gloriously sunny recently and driving around on my everyday business and walking the dogs has been a delight - the countryside here is really lovely and the sunlight on the frosty fields gave it an added wintry charm. How can I not feel thankful that I live in such a gorgeous spot and in such a friendly village? This is why it's where we hope to end our days. 

This was, of course, the week when the world bid farewell to Nelson Mandela. For me it was his ability to forgive that set him apart from the rest. While many are imprisoned or persecuted for their political or religious views, people struggle with physical and mental handicaps and to live on limited incomes we should all be grateful for what we have and should do our best to live in peace with each other. So to anyone I have hurt or offended at any time I ask pardon and to those that have hurt or offended me I will try to let bygones be bygones. 

 'I have been saying throughout, let bygones be bygones. Let what has happened pass,as something unfortunate but which we must forget'  Nelson Mandela upon his release from prison.

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