Please excuse the hiatus in journal entries over the past few days. Unfortunately, I have some sad though not unexpected news to report. Some of you may know I’ve been doing a fair amount of traveling to France this year to be with my grandmother, who has not been well. Last Wednesday after a final illness she passed away.
Nothing I can write here would adequately explain what an extraordinary person she was. Very few people can claim to have a grandmother who has climbed the Andes mountains, traveled to remote villages in India and Africa in the nineteen sixties and seventies, or visited China after the death of Mao. She island-hopped throughout the Pacific and crossed the Congo in a jeep, the heart of darkness notwithstanding. She was at ease in a tent, in a kimono, before an emperor, in a grass hut, in a royal banqueting hall, at a tea ceremony, treating everyone she met with the same respect, kindness and curiosity. She had absolutely no fear.
When she was still well enough, the last book she was reading was ‘Unsuitable for Ladies: an anthology of women travelers.’
She was bed-ridden only three days before she died. As she lay there, she told me eagerly how much she was looking forward to this last and most intrepid journey. The only problem, she said, was that there was no travel literature she could brush up on before going on to that Other Country. Never mind, she said. It’s the unexpected things that bring the most joy.
I will miss her more than I can ever say.