Saturday, September 13, 2014

Madame Mere Has Arrived...To Stay

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If you have been wondering why Lindaraxa has been blogging sporadically for the last three months and posting recipes on canning and coffee cakes lately, this is why.  This post has been on my draft file for a couple of months.  Nothing much has changed.  Les appartements prives de Madame Mere are still unfinished.  She has been on the main floor now going on three months. The contractor is on The Most Wanted List...In that time much has happened, but we are still talking and hugging each other.  

Yes, you read it right the first time.  Madame Mere, Lindaraxa's mother, has arrived to stay...as in living with her...and her daughter, two female dogs and Coco the cat, in the same house, forever for the foreseeable future.

For those of you new to this blog, the name Madame Mere was given to my mother by one of Lindaraxa's dearest and oldest friends whose family has known hers for three generations.   There's no way Lindaraxa can pull the wool over this friend's eyes, or vice versa.  Each knows exactly where the other is coming from and where all the skeletons are buried in their respective families. They know each other very well.

The term Madame Mere is one of affection and endearment, nothing else;  but said friend knows Lindaraxa's frustrations with her mother and the different characters and personalities involved.  He loves to tease.  He often telephones Madame Mere, all the way from Paris,  particularly when he knows she needs a good laugh.  Lindaraxa knows that, more often than not, they talk about her, something that gives  Madame Mere  great joy and tons of fuel for the battles ahead.  What MM doesn't know is that these phone calls go both ways.


Letizia Bonaparte, Madame Mere

In case you don't know, Madame Mere was the official name given to Letizia Bonaparte, Napoleon's mother.    Immediately after his imperial accession Napoleon granted titles to his family, including that of 'Prince of the Empire' for Joseph and Louis.  However, Letizia was so chagrined at hers - 'Madame Mère de Sa Majesté l'Empereur' (or 'Madame Mère', 'Madam Mother') - that she boycotted the coronation. The title may well have been a deliberate slight from son to mother over family arguments and the Emperor tried to make amends a year later, in 1805, by giving Letizia a country home with over 200 courtiers, high-ranking servants and vast sums of money. 

Madame Mere died in Rome in 1836.



Laetitia Bonaparte portrait by Ramolino in 1835, age 85
  
There is much more to this lady that can be found here.  Suffice it to say that the similarities between my Madame Mere and the original are  many  few, except for their strength of character, thriftiness, deep family roots and loyalty to the family.

 Letizia Bonaparte accompanied Napoleon into exile,  something Madame Mere would have done as well.  Come to think of it, in a way, that is exactly what she has done, although I am a far cry from the emperor.  Yes, it is strange that both she and I have come to live together again, with my daughter, in a strange place.  Elba..., now why didn't I think of that before?!  Never in our lives did either of us think that we would move, lock, stock and barrel, to a small town in the north of Georgia.  It is not a place I would have chosen, although I have been relatively content.  It is peaceful here and I get to spend time with my grandchildren, but I miss the sea and my friends and the hustle and bustle of New York City. 




Madame Mere, June 2014, age 89...no surgeries on that face, just good genes 

She arrived on June 23rd and life, as we both know it, will radically change. I feel sad for MM having to make this change at this stage of her life but we will do everything we can to make her life as happy and peaceful as possible.  We are building an apartment for her in the lower level of the house where she will have independence and a view of the garden.  Work hasn't started yet and, while we wait, she will be staying in the guest room on the main floor. There are no courtiers or high ranking servants here, although sometimes I think she thinks there are.

Shortly after she arrived, she got to meet her third grandchild, little Harper Glen, now two months old.

Stay tuned...the fireworks are about to start!


Photos 1-3 Google
Photo 4 Lindaraxa









16 comments:

  1. Life seems full of surprises, including living where we never ever thought we would. From the photos I've seen of your home, Madame Mere should be very comfortable and I know she's enjoy her grandchildren and certainly eat well. You are a warm, loving and generous daughter and I commend you for it. Hope you are enjoying the bit of cool weather we have this morning. I feel fall in the air.
    Sam

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  2. Thank you but it is her granddaughter who is to be commended. It was she who made the decision that her grammy could not continue to live alone. It is an adjustment, particularly as in some things she IS just like the original Madame Mere.! though of yoyu with this weather. Divine!

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  3. What a very lovely, generous and thoughtful post… We all know there are difficult times in a situation like this, but you really have come across here as so understanding and patient. And, of course, a sense of humor is essential!
    I'm thinking of all of you. Yes, strange where life takes us, isn't it?

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    1. Well in all honesty it was written just after she arrived. Much has happened since then but we have finally reached a certain level of detente. The delay of the basement has not helped but we are managing, especially now that I have gotten her a courtier to take up some of the daily rituals she is used to. I am learning patience, which is not my strong suit and it has been a big readjustment, for all of us, but it's working...kind of.

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  4. Words fail me this time---other than to say that this delightful post has made my day.

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    1. Ah Toby, there you are. I know this you understand as you have an elderly mother also. I am glad you enjoyed. Life has changed...who would have thought!

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  5. I think that your readers all liked it when Madame Mere put in an appearance here. Perhaps now with Madame Mere on hand as a source of continuity and tradition, we will be treated to more of your family's reminiscences and customs, food-related or not.
    --Jim

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    1. Well you have a good point there, Jim...after all this is season 6 of this blog. As with Downton Abbey, we must introduced new characters to keep the audience from getting bored. Think of the Dowager Duchess coming to live in retirement in Georgia and you get pretty close to what I'm talking about. I have just finished the next post and she's all over the place. The funny part is she does not know we all call her Madame Mere. When my neighbor met her she did a curtsy and told her how glad she was to finally meet Madame Mere. I had to cut her off. MM is not computer literate and would not be amused. I get the sense of humor from my paternal side and I am most grateful for it!.

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  6. What a beautifully written and thoughtful blog post this is! I'm sure your mother, who looks to be quite jolly, elegant, and no doubt feisty, will be well taken care of, especially once you've completed all of the things required to make both your lives comfortable under a single roof.

    You are to be commended for your caring spirit and your attitude to overcoming all the challenges that await. I'm sure they'll be plenty of laughter and good times thrown into the mix as well.

    The artwork you feature is beautiful, as is the portrait of your mother. Beautiful!

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    1. Thank you for you kind comments. As I said before, it is my daughter who has to be commended for it was her idea to bring her to live with us. I have to confess I was a bit skeptical but knew it had to be done and we certainly could not even think of the idea of putting her in a home. Not this lady, no way. So here we are.. That's life, right?

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  7. A lively and lovely post filled with honesty and yet gentle optimism. I think life has just handed you a wonderful opportunity to write about to hell with little women: women with big personalities living together in an unexpected way. Rather like the Sous Chef and Coco without the fur! Which may or may not be flying.

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    1. You have just given me an angle, home. Now why didn't I think of that?! I am so glad you stopped by. Thanks.

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  8. I may have lost my mind... but I'm glad to have my family with me. Georgia ain't so bad :)

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    1. Yes, dearest one, that is true. You are an angel to put up with the two of us and will be amply rewarded in life. I love you.

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  9. Despite the blips, it'll be a time of your life you'll always cherish. I know from experience.

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    1. That is what I keep telling myself, John.....every single day!

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