THOUGHTS ABOUT GRIEF

 

For years, I have heard that there are five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining (with whom? I don’t know. God?), depression, acceptance. And, well-meaning friends have reminded me to remember those stages as I go through this terrible time of loss. Others have told me it will take at least a year before I get better. I don’t agree. I don’t think there are “stages”. I will grieve the loss of Steve – forever. And, I don’t have a year to get better because I don’t think it will ever be “better” or that I will ever get “better”. I will miss Steve for the rest of my life. We had something special that I don’t have any more. I don’t get over that. It cannot be replaced. My friend Carole Lilly Jones said to me – most of our families of origin and friends are dead. Yet, for some reason, we are still alive. Go live. Yes, I am alive. I am going to go live. Now, I am not sure what that means just yet, so I will keep on keeping on. Keep showing up – for my walks, for coffee in the Park, for groceries, for lunch with friends, for doctor appointments….

So far, everything is painful and disorienting – without a finish line. But, I already feel my moods and emotions shift and change. Highs, then lows. Laughter, then tears. Anger, fear, peace, joy, guilt, confusion. I don’t believe in “closure”. Grief is a part of love, and love evolves. Acceptance is not final. It shifts around, changing often during the day. This is a poem that spoke to me today when I read it  – it came on a card in the mail from our friends in Sarasota…

“Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond glints on snow, I am the sun on ripened grain, I am the gentle autumn rain. When you awaken in the morning’s hush, I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circling flight. I am the soft starlight at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there; I did not die.”  – Mary Frye  (Thank you, Carole and Cliff)

Below are some selfies and other pictures we or I took during this year in France. Each day was sheer delight. And, those who knew Steve KNOW he hated having his picture taken. Love that guy!

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He fought a good fight. He so wanted to live.  I will miss him forever.

Best, Jay9408CB0D-B6CF-4FD4-A989-437A6003595E

 

JAYSPEAK BEGINS….

On October 1, 2015, my husband and I moved to Nice, France. We are currently beginning our 11th month – as residents. It is tricky because we don’t either one speak French. We try to, but — no. A word here and there, but full sentences throw us for a loop. Yet, we have been able to make ourselves understood – by waiters in restaurants, UPS at the door, the mailman, the Post Office, the grocery clerk, the pharmacist, the doctor, the dentist. A lot of these people speak “some” English, but not much. I bought Michel Thomas’ French apps, and listened for months to the lessons. That helped. My problem comes with pronunciation. Mine and theirs. I say something I think is excellent, and they look puzzled. If they say something, I have no idea what it might be. Yet, I can translate it. I can read a lot of things; I am struggling with speech. I had hoped to pick it up faster — no.

We moved to France as a compromise. We had been living in Los Angeles, California, for many years. I had moved there in 1968, from Gainesville, Georgia. While there, I worked as an actress in film and television – selling real estate as backup. At a certain point, I got frustrated with acting and decided to go to law school. I practiced law for fifteen years and decided to retire. I married my husband Steve Orlandella – a live sports producer for television – in 2005. We had dated for several years, and he popped the question that spring. In 2014, we decided to retire. He hated the traffic, and I had battle-fatigue from contentious clients and defense attorneys. Steve wanted to move to Sarasota, Florida. I wanted to stay in L.A. We compromised by agreeing to move to Nice, France. It did not happen quite that easily, but all of that drama and saga I will save for another time.

It took us two years to “get our ducks in a row.” Steve applied for an Italian passport so he could have duel-citizenship. I required a long-term French visa. Plus, I had to close down Law Offices of Jay W. MacIntosh. It was complicated with snags galore, but we did it. And, here we are.

Hopefully, this blog will be the forum for me to explain how we did it – especially at this time in our lives. I am older than Steve – by 13 years, so moving home – lock, stock, and barrel, is not the norm. But, going to law school at age 59 was not the norm either. And, going from Georgia to the University of Wisconsin was not the norm. Moving a family and furnishings from Georgia to California was not the norm. So, I can say – I was not the norm. Neither was Steve. So, I am going to write about France, moving to France, and living in France – from my perspective. I plan to post pictures and write about the setting. Don’t expect this to be a travelogue — no.

This is my first post. Welcome aboard.  BY JAY W. MACINTOSH

 

OUR NEW HOME IN NICE

When Steve and I were making our plans to move to France, our first consideration was a place to live that we could afford. Steve was more skeptical than I was. He was convinced we would not be able to afford anything fit to live in.  I, on the other hand, had lived in various homes in Los Angeles, in various neighborhoods.  During the time that I was working as an actress, I worked as a real estate agent (eventually becoming a broker) as back-up. Thus, I knew to look for help – a real estate agent in Nice.

After an extensive search, I heard about the site www.angloinfo.com. I created a page on that site and began posting comments regarding our upcoming move and our need for help. I got several responses, one of which was from someone named Andrea Emond. She was a Canadian, living in Nice. She said she would be glad to help us.

Andrea and I began corresponding back and forth. That went on for almost two years. Our plans changed so much that I was afraid Andrea would get disgusted and disappear. But, she did not do so. At some point, she realized that a major stumbling block – other than Steve’s obtaining his Italian passport – was a place to live. So she began sending us setups regarding properties that were within our budget, knowing that there were still a lot of snags to our getting on a plane. When we began to see what was available and prices involved, Steve and I both got excited. We could afford Nice.

In 2015, we made the decision to move by November 1st. We made one offer that did not fly, but the second offer did. We leased a furnished three-bedroom, one bath condo in an area called Cimiez, starting October 1st. That didn’t mean anything to us, but Andrea said it was one of the best neighborhoods in Nice.

(Note: Unfurnished units sometimes don’t have complete kitchens – no stove, refrigerator, etc.  And, long-term lets are difficult to find. Nice is a short-term rental town. AND, international moving companies are expensive.)

We decided to unload our all of our furniture (except for my Steinway piano).  We sold all of the furniture, both of our cars (2 BMW’s), and lots of personal items. THAT was very difficult for both of us to do – that’s how much we wanted to make the move. I am posting a picture of Andrea and her partner Slav (http://www.home-frenchriviera.com/).

Andrea and Slav

Below are some “before” pictures and “after” pictures of our condo. We have done some more things since these pictures were taken. And, I am not including all of the rooms.  But, these give you an idea of whom we met, what we saw, and how we have begun fixing it up. We’ve ended up using some of the landlord’s existing furniture, but we got them to take away most of it, including all of their personal items, like pots & pans, dishes, towels, and such.  The unit now is warm and cozy.

We bought pieces at Habitat (https://www.habitat.fr), on the French version of Craigslist(https://www.leboncoin.fr/annonces/offres/provence_alpes_cote_d_azur/) and at a donation outlet named Emmaus (http://www.emmaus06.fr/). We shipped my Steinway piano, artwork, kitchenware, clothes, and linens.  

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This is the incredible view!!

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Best, Jay

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THE NEIGHBORHOOD – CIMIEZ

Two months ago, I started my blog, Jayspeak. My husband, Steve Orlandella, started his blog, Stevespeak. And, we both were off and running. I had ideas galore about future topics, and so did he. We both had followings on Facebook. We hoped we could get followings for our blogs. That same weekend, he didn’t feel well – thought he was coming down with the flu. On Tuesday, August 2, 2016, I rushed him to the emergency room at Hopital Pasteur. He was transferred to Hopital l’Archet immediately. Diagnosed with acute pneumonia on life-saving machines. He got a tad better and was transferred to Les Sources for further treatment – in the intensive care section of the ICU. For a month, French doctors tried to save his life. Without success. He died on August 31, 2016 – a date I will never forget. That day, my heart broke.

Now, I am trying to re-group. How do I reinvent my life?  How do I write a blog about life in France? What do I say?  Steve was my best friend, my constant companion, my lover, my life. We had places to go; things to do. Our retirement years in France were just beginning.  Now, that is not going to happen – at least, not the way we planned.  Stevespeak is silent…forever.  I still have a voice.  I am here.   SO, here goes.  Jayspeak speaks – anew.  Hang in there.

I had planned to write about Cimiez – the area where we live.  Well, I still live here.  And, the things we both loved about the area, I still love.  I am posting pictures of the view from our condo – out the window; the grocery store Monoprix; the Park Café; the Roman ruins; the Monastery; The Monastery Garden; the Museum Matisse; the Monster Munch we loved at the store; the Hot Dog sign at the Park that was only there from time to time; the Bus Schedule for the bus near our condo – that we took every Sunday to town; the neighborhood palace Regina that we saw every day; and others. I can hardly write through my tears. But, you get the picture.  Life was good.  We were happy and in love – with each other, with Nice, with Cimiez, with France.  I still am….

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The Gorgeous View out my Living Room Window.  See the Observatory?

 

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My great grocery store!  Fresh orange juice every day!
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The Park Cafe – delicious croissants and coffee!
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Roman Ruins
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A Functioning Monastery and Chapel. Beautiful in side!
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The Monastery Gardens with beautiful flowers – tended all year long by professional gardeners.
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The Matisse Museum.  Gorgeous inside!!
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YUM!!
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Steve’s Favorite munchies!!
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The great #17 bus stop near our apartment!
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This is “The Regina” – the summer home of Queen Victoria, now apartments and businesses. Gorgeous architecture!

MONASTERE DE CIMIEZ

The Monastère Notre Dame de Cimiez, which is usually called the Monastery of Cimiez, is a stone’s throw from our condo. It is an 800’s monastery with gardens overlooking Nice, plus paintings by Brea, a museum, and Matisse’s grave. It includes a church (which looks like a Cathedral to me), a cemetery, and a convent where some Franciscan friars still live. The church has significant paintings by 15th century local artists, the Brea brothers. The convent houses the Musee Franciscain (which is decorated with 17th century frescoes), many documents, and a recreated cell showing how the austere religious life is lived. The chapel dates from the 17th century and the lovely gardens have sweeping views across Nice and out to the sea – where I take pictures of the roses I post on Facebook. I walk by it every day.

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The painter, Henri Matisse, is buried in the cemetery. His grave is signposted ‘sépulture Henri Matisse’ from the cemetery’s main entrance. Raoul Dufy (1877 – 1953) is also buried here. I am not familiar with Dufy, but I have seen the paintings inside – beautiful.

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It has been particularly meaningful to me. As many of you know, Steve was a devout Catholic. Always has been, as far as I know. Last Christmas, we went to Paris for six days and stayed in an Airbnb in the Marais – next to a “church” – which also looked like a cathedral to me. I wanted to light a candle for my children, but wasn’t sure how to do it. He took me inside and showed me where to get a candle, pay for it, light it, and pray for my kids. Which I did. It was a beautiful moment.

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Since that time, I have frequently gone into the Monastery Church and lit candles for many things. And, I lit two candles almost every day after Steve got sick. I continue to light a candle most days. Doing so makes me feel better. 

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These are pictures that I have taken over the year – both in Paris and here.

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I particularly like the one I have used as the Featured Photo – Steve standing in front of the Monastery, trying to get his camera phone ready to take a picture.

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Best, Jay

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