Thursday, 16 June 2011

Florentine Family

Time and energy haven't combined to get me writing the last few days' events at Home, but they can be summed up as gardening, picnics (in our garden and elsewhere), a walk with Philippe, André and a host of dogs, and more garden time, whether working in it or just enjoying it in ways I don't intend to detail here. Last night was something different, though, and I'm going to get it written before the memories fade and the day's computer-induced eye-strain kicks in.

My first memory is of being greeted by Louis, and his telling me his mother wanted us to visit her.

"Does she? I'll have to think of something nice to wear," I said, surprised and very pleased. We haven't been to Marie's home before. That's quite significant, indeed astonishing, when you think about it. For all the healing that's taken place between Louis and Marie over their long lives, he's never actually visited her house. She's only been two-three times to ours, for that matter, and one of those times was for our wedding.

"There is no need to over-dress," Louis said. "We are but visiting."

"Yes, but remember Marie's reaction when she came here and I was so plainly dressed? I should show her something pretty!"

Marie wasn't in the least disapproving when she visited, only concerned that I didn't have nice clothes - or rather, that Louis hadn't made me any; a sort of isn't-he-looking-after-you-properly reaction. We spent a good time on that visit in the bedroom, while I showed her my finest dresses, most of which are indeed of Louis's making. My
belle-mère has changed in many ways, but not in her taste for fine clothes and jewels!

Upstairs, I did some humming and ha-ing over what to wear, but ended up choosing the season's standby, my 1950s floral dress, with its rose-coloured bolero and a pair of courts (shoes I can't possibly wear here on the earthly side: my feet won't put up with that sort of treatment). Louis had opted for his "royal purple" as he called it - his purple shirt over jeans - but when I decided to wear my bolero, thought he might add a jacket as well. He thought of his black velvet, but it made too sombre a look over the purple, almost reminiscent of his dark, plain attire of his earthly days. A quick change saw him in his white shirt and burgundy jacket, a beautiful combination.

We walked hand-in-hand downstairs, stepping down as if we were at some grand ball, before walking out the front door, crying out,
Marie!" and taking a couple of running steps ...

... before arriving at the front of Marie's house, where she stood in the garden, arms spread in greeting. Actually "house" is inadequate to describe her home. It's a Florentine palazzo, very much a building of the Renaissance city where she was born. One departure is that it doesn't front the street, but has its own narrow formal garden, before and behind. Marie doesn't have a soulmate or partner at present (and no, she is not lonely). Her house is hers, but she uses it as a hotel for friends and guests. I suspect she is seldom alone.

I hung back a little when we arrived, not because I felt any hesitation or reluctance, but because I wanted to see what came next - my beloved running the few paces to his mother, and the pair of them wrapping their arms around each other in a bearhug. If you know anything of the relationship between Louis XIII and Marie de Medici in their earthly lives, you will know why I wanted to see that.

My turn came a moment later, before we went inside her beautiful home. I don't recall a great deal of the visit itself, unfortunately. I remember saying, "Show me your lovely house, ma
mère!" and Marie laughing that I was just like Louis, wanting to see other people's houses - not that she was at all reluctant to show off her beautiful home!

There is one part of the conversation that came back to me, and made me laugh.

"Have you seen Henriette of late?" Louis asked, referring to his youngest sister.

"I saw her but lately, and Charles. He is so quiet," Marie answered, laughing.

"He's the quietest person in the family," I said. "Even quieter than Andr
é, don't you think?"

"He is. No one could be that quiet and live with my son," Louis answered, grinning.

At this there was a crystal-clear answer - "I heard that, Father!" No, Philippe wasn't with us, but Louis had obviously broadcast his sly comment quite some distance. Perhaps the saying "his ears were burning" is close to being literally true in Spirit!

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