|CHOICES MADE: Fathers and Sons
Journal Entry of CeCe Chaumbers
December 10, 1978
I look at my life and see it change, except some things donít change. Society is more open now. There is more freedom to live your life, but repression and class warfare live in the undercurrents. Ambassador Freneau despises me; I donít know why. There are others in his circle, even younger, who look down their noses at me and donít hide their feelings in any way. Callous remarks are common enough. No matter how polite the society, their tongues are sharp. Iíve tried to analyze the situation, but am at a loss.
I wonder what he would say if he had visited the Foreign Ministerís office with me. They remembered my grandfather, Guy Chaumbers! There werenít many who recalled working with him, since he died before I was born, nevertheless those who did held him in the highest regard. I remembered Maman saying he had worked with a government agency. Only a passing comment by the Ambassador made me think of going there. I got lucky, really lucky, to have tried there first.
It was interesting to find out he worked on a project promoting French and American business associations, so had been sent to St. Louis to meet with businessmen there. That had to be where Papa and Grandfather MacGregor met him, my grandmother, and Maman. According to dates they gave me, Maman was sixteen when they went to America. Less than two years later my grandparents died in a car accident. I donít know where theyíre buried, France or America. Maman never visited a grave, never spoke of it. I vaguely remember her saying Papa helped with the arrangements; that must have been when they fell in love.
I understand some of my upbringing now! Mamanís rules of etiquette were always so strict. Her constant thoughts of dressing properly for every occasion certainly had a basis in Grandfather Guyís position with the Foreign Ministerís office.
The conversation with the secretary was enlightening. I loved hearing her speak of Grandfather and how particular he was about having flowers in his office. Maman always wanted flowers on the dining table, no matter how poor we were.
Iíll cherish the personal items they stored after hearing of his death. She thought Maman would return one day so saved them for her. She was happy to give them to me. Iím happy to have them. Finally I know what my grandparents looked like. The photo of them was the one he kept on his desk. Fantastic! Even the picture of Maman at that age is priceless to me.
The secretary got all teary eyed when she looked at the photograph of Grandfather in his suit, stiff white collar, and cane. She said he was an impeccable dresser, very vain, and remembered staff parties with my grandmother, who was beautiful. Maman looked like her. Maman always said I was vain; now I know where I got it.
I wish Maman had told me stories of her parents.
Well, all the rules of etiquette and proper dress help advance my cause now. I need to know all of these things in the company I keep. Attending parties at the homes of rich people when you are poor puts me under the microscope.
I remember years ago when Granges was surprised that I knew the proper utensil to use for the dishes that were brought to the tableÖ Damn, why did I let him in my thoughts? He doesnít belong there. I want to forget him. Well, I did fool him when it came to the French drug connection. When they laid out their drug deals, they didnít know I spoke fluent French from speaking it at home.
Well, thank you, Maman, for keeping your family alive by pressing the rules and teaching me to speak French properly; it serves me well now. There isnít anyone, not even the Ambassador, who doesnít think I wasnít born right here in Paris.
I am an American in Paris with impeccable manners, impeccable dress, and the language skills of a native. How better to fit in high society!
I must remember to tell JaNi about this. They are his family and I want him to know things about them. I feel a bit more a part of this world now.
A man needs a history.
JOIN JAMY ON HIS CONTINUED
Copyright © 2005 Choices Made. All rights reserved. Revised: August 18, 2012 .