Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Eternal Life

Cloudy, rainy, cold - then sunny, hot and humid. Canada, eh? temps 15-28

Had a quite amazing day. Found out after only 4 days on sale En plein coeur is on the bestseller list.

And, if you're wondering who the man holding En plein coeur in the photo is, it's Jean Gamache - the man who was the initial inspiration for Armand! Eight years ago Michael and I were going to England for a wedding and Michael needed a new suit. Someone suggested this tailor in Grandy - Jean Gamache. I was just beginning to write Still Life and struggling with who the main character was, even his name was unclear. Off we went to the tailor - and there he was. Partly it was his physical appearance that inspired me - but mostly it was his character. Thoughtful, courteous in an old world way, with deep brown eyes that were many things, but mostly kind.

Voila. Gamache.

As you know, many others contributed characteristics, including Michael, my husband, but meeting Monsieur Gamache was the breakthrough. And as a homage to the man I used his last name.

I can't tell you how desperately moving it was to go there today to present him with a signed copy of the first book out in French. And he was still kindly and cheerful, intelligent and courteous.

Before that, earlier in the day, Michael and I had visited Louise and Jacques in the hospital. We'd talked about prayer the last time we visited, and the prayer of St Francis in particular. So Michael printed out a few copies and we sat around Jacques' bed, holding hands, while Louise read it, in English then in French. And then we all took turns talking about what it means to us.

As Louise said, reading it with jacques, at that time, gave each word of the beautiful prayer a significance and power it hadn't had for us before. Like most people, we all saw it was inspired. As a stunning example of grace. As well as a practical blueprint to how to live a happy life. But saying the words with Jacques, especially the last line, sent electricity through all of us. Not of fear or discomfort. But of power. And, oddly, calm.

It was a very beautiful time.

Louise was asked by CBC Radio's The Current to talk about her experience right now, losing the man she loves. You can hear the interview tomorrow morning on the national radio programme....or it will be available on their website later. It's in a larger package examining euthanasia - a big debate these days in Quebec.


Reen said...

He's beautiful.

Marjorie said...

Here is the text of the prayer in French and English to cut and paste:


I think that Mr. Gamache is lovely and I really like his suspenders!

Marjorie from CT

Linda said...

You are good, Louise! M. Gamache is who I pictured when you first described Armand. --20 days 'til Bury Your Dead!!
Thank you for sharing Louise's and Jacques' personal journey. They sound like beautiful people.

lil Gluckstern said...

Mr. Gamache is indeed perfect. Thank you to Marjorie for the website for the Peace Prayer. When I first encountered this, it really informed the kind of person I would like to be. And peace to you, Louise, and Jacques, and Louise.

Sandra said...

M. Gamache is a man who looks to be at peace with himself.
At our small county library, I found two of your books and read them both last week. Marvelous writing, you capture the hope and pathos of most of us.
As to prayer, it's the backbone of my life; I love talking to God and knowing He hears and listens. "Cast your cares upon Him, for He careth for you/me"...I believe He cares for me and loves to hear from me so I pray constantly and tell Him of my day, my plans...HA! Man plans, God laughs...my joys and sorrows. It's a fearful and wonderful thing to know the Creator of all loves me/us.