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Marie-Hélène L.


by Maryvonne F.

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“My father was a “seafarer” and my mother a housewife. He was left for 9 months to South America and when he coasted France, my Mother took one of us to join him for example in Bordeaux or in Le Havre. Then we sailed with the rest of the crew to Dunkirk or Hamburg. For young children, it was an extraordinary experience. One time when he came back home, I no longer recognized my father, and I said “I have 2 dads, the other, he is on the boat...” When it was my brother's turn, I went to the neighbouring farmers, which enabled me to experience farming life. I could also continue to go to school.My father was at first married to my mother's older sister, who died in June 1944 with their son, in a bombing. The village inhabitants had built a shelter in the garden. There were 13 deaths total, including 6 children and their mothers. And only one child survived ... My father then remarried one of his wife's younger sisters, who is therefore my mother. This tragedy remained quite present in amidst the family and the neighbourhood.”



“Living in a small town, I went to boarding school run by nuns in St Brieuc at the age of 12. It was not easy and after 5thgrade, I went to one of my aunts. After the brevet(French middle school diploma), I wanted to take care of children and enrolled in a childcare assistants school in St Brieuc.After getting my diploma, I worked 2 years in the Paris area, in a children's surgery department, which was really interesting! Then I got married, had a baby boy and divorced 3 years later. I finally moved to Alençon where I had a few cousins.During my second marriage, we lived in Morocco before returning to the Paris region, and later settling in Saint Malo after giving birth to my second son. Settling there was not easy for me on a professional level: I had togive up childcare to work for the elderly. It was the beginning of home care services and I took part in creating a company in Dinard,where we only 2 auxiliaries at first (today, there are more than a hundred).We had to take care of relatively able-bodied people : thye mostly needed support and monitoring of hygiene and drugs. We had time to chat with them, we were often told we were “their daily ray of sunshine”. I stayed there until my retirement, but it became very hard: caring services have changed: more and more people are disabled disabled, or suffer from degenerative diseases ... There’s a lack of lifting devices or appropriate equipment. But the relationships with the patients were interesting. I really enjoyed my time spent there.



I knew my grandparents on my mother’s side well. We went to see them almost every Sunday, because my mother was often alone with my brother and me. Then, after my grandfather died, my grandmother remained a widow and lived alone for ten years. She often came to our home, by foot, looked after us, she remained very active, mainly in her garden. Then naturally came the time where she no longer could stay by herself, and moved in with my parents: they were already retired and my aunts wereworking ... My father agreed to take her in and it lasted 10 years.RETIREMENT My husband –who’s older than me –retired at 66, and it was around this time that my mother, who’d been a widow for several years and had been suffering from Parkinson's disease broke her femoral neck. She came to our house as my brother couldn’t take her in. It was difficult for her to find herself in our house smaller than hers. She only enjoyed herself when she was outside.As I was working with a patient, I got in an accident at work: I got a severe tendonitis which led to a extended break from work, followed by my retirement.It was about time, because taking care of my mother, of my children and grandchildren, getting numerous family visits: it all had become very hard to balance.Fortunately, my husband agreed to the situation and all was going well.



We try to keep up with physical activities, crafts, embroidery 2 times a week. I volunteer as an Art Therapist’s assistant at the Saint Malo hospital once a week, in case something was to occur. We also exchange on the toughness of the disease, on how strong the people battling with the latter are, and how they face life with a smile. I really enjoy spending time there. Three or four times a week, I stroll with my neighbours who walk their dog, I go to the theater, concert cinema, once a month, and I also like to read.My husband can no longer hear: the auditory nerve has been progressively paralyzed for 35 years. Even with hearing devices, he only hears noises without being able to analyse them ... As a result, I am always on alert, day and night: telephone, medical visits, company related issues... I also have to assist him for trips outside the municipality. It is not easy for himbut for me either. Fortunately, I have these thing I do for me. I also take part distributing vegetables at L'AMAP, an association of organic producers.



I had long thought about it, but turns out it’s almost better. We are free and we live at the pace we want. I watch a little television when there is a good movie, interesting shows about healthcare, history, sometimes even politics, but not variety shows.I am also the secretary of the Association of the village which organizes the event of St Jean (without the fire, which is prohibited), the galette des rois, the couscous and the cleaning of the “wash-house”, built by the men. They take part in it, whilst setting the world to rights, the women come and share a snack...


My husband’s always on the computer, so I have very little access. However, one day I will have to get into it.



We have to accompany the younger generation, talk to them about the bright side of life, telling them they should do do what they want do it well, to the fullest, to hold on, and that everything isn’t brought on a sliver platter. My children are practically our neighbours, and our grandchildren often come by. My granddaughter and I are very close. She’s very mature interested in all kinds of things, even embroidery, painting ...In the end, I’m enjoying life, often thinking about what I want to do. At our age, we no longer project ourselves in the way we used to.



I am all for it. We must remain united and strong, to face Russia, China and the United States. United, we can do it, and Europe is very important when facing the World.


My motto, live happy and with a smile!