‘Friday, May 9th 2014 – Dining & Dancing on Tables in Paris!’
I was looking two years ahead. Plans were hatching for a big mad party. It never happened.
When my 60th birthday rolled around, we were in Dublin. My husband Larry, not much older than me, had only days to live.
Despite the appalling situation we found ourselves in, we celebrated my birthday with an excellent Chinese meal in the apartment I had found for us in Clontarf, near the seafront.
A feast of mouth-watering goodies, Dim Sum, special prawns, a couple of delectable chicken dishes, extra veggies and scrumptious sauces reminded us of so many Chinese meals enjoyed over the years. Especially the excellent ones we had eaten in Chinatown in Paris.
Larry’s special tray, something I found in our brilliant local supermarket and hardware store, Nolan’s, made eating a pleasure. With a solid wooden top and a soft, bean bag effect underneath, it allowed him to enjoy food and wine in total comfort, sitting in his favourite armchair, while keeping pressure off his legs.
Food was a big part of our lives. Eating just to stay alive was an alien concept to us, and whether a top class Chinese takeaway in Dublin or the Magret de Canard that features on almost every menu in the 'Grand Sud de France', we embraced food and wine with gusto.
Enthusiastically tucking into the food, Larry reminded me of an evening in France years before, when we were eating a typical French dinner with an elderly Madame.
She suddenly said: “you know, when everything else is failing, I hope my sense of taste will stay until the end.”
His sense of taste had certainly stayed. Despite the pain, the cocktail of drugs prescribed for him and the overwhelming sadness both of us were unable to hide at times, he managed to enjoy many meals during those last months.
My birthday dinner on Friday, May 9th, was the last one we shared.
For Larry it was, literally, his last supper.
By Saturday evening it was hard to believe Friday night had happened. On Sunday afternoon he was in hospital. The following week I was arranging his cremation.
We didn’t dance on those tables in Paris, but we had done all that. And not only in Paris.
At home in France, I always lit candles and wore long earrings for dinner.
On my birthday night, to compliment my splendid Lilien Czech earrings, Larry insisted on using his special napkin holder.
Poirot like, he adored this silver chain with a clip at each end to hold his linen napkin in place.
That was SO us, a bit eccentric perhaps, keeping up the things we got such a kick out of doing, even in difficult times... but these small things made all the difference.