: to confide in, to entrust
Il ne faut confier son secret qu'à celui qui n'a pas cherché à le deviner.
One must only share one's secret with the one who has not sought to guess it. --Diane de Beausacq
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A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse
I was in our cellier, hanging laundry along a network of string that zig-zags from one end of the small room to the other, when I heard my husband call out.
"Madame asked me to tell you that she finally got her tooth pulled."
Madame? Tooth? Finalement? I stood there, a wet sock in one hand, a gant de toilette in the other, trying to make sense of the "news".
Peering around the corner, I saw Jean-Marc pitch another log onto the fire.
"Our neighbor," Jean-Marc offered, sensing my confusion. "T'étais au courant?"
Was I aware? I had to stop and think, étais-je au courant? Well, I should be aware! ...but had somehow lost awareness—or, to put it plainly, I'd forgotten!
Distressed, I began to jog my memory. "La voisine... oui, sa dent.... la dent de la voisine..." I returned to the cellier allowing my mind to continue the exercise of remembering; meanwhile my hands continued the exercise of laundry.
Yes... I vaguely remembered the conversation. My neighbor had come by with a gift of farm fresh eggs. I had been touched by her offering, given her hens had been on strike for weeks.
"Elles sont têtues! They're stubborn but they've had a change of heart," my neighbor said of her moody chickens. We were seated at the dining room table, drinking tea and eating the remains of a sweet cake that previous visitors had brought by.
My neighbor said she couldn't stay long, she had to get home to chop some wood for the fire that heated her cottage. It seemed a tiring task for a retired woman, and a widow. I didn't want to pry but went ahead and asked how she was feeling. I remember coaxing the information out of my neighbor, who isn't one to complain or to talk about herself.
That is when she must have admitted to having a toothache. I remember urging her to see a dentist.
"It's something we put off," I sympathized, "I know. I have a bad tooth that needs looking at, too, but I'm afraid of what the dentist will find!"
My neighbor nodded her head, and her eyes were bright with understanding. "...et puis, on a un peu peur..." and we're just a little bit afraid," she admitted, at which point it was my turn to vigorously nod my head.
In the cellier, I shook out another wet sock and another wash cloth. How could I have forgotten her tooth? I must have been quite interested in that tooth—concerned enough to make my dear neighbor feel compelled to send the update that would put my mind at ease.
But my mind was far from eased! It was troubling to think that the information she had shared may have gone in one ear and out the other. Could I have been as careless as that? To want to comfort my neighbor... only to move on to the next deed on my list, forgetting the one that came before it?
No! I sincerely care about my neighbor! She is discreet and undramatic about aches and pains and matters of the heart. An attention-seeker she is not, precisely the kind of person who needs attention! It is the self-effacing types who go unnoticed; meantime, others—my grandmother would call them "squeaky wheels"—vie for our attention, demanding time and energy that could be offered to toothless angels.
I thought about some of the squeaky wheels, or, as Mom calls them "toxic relationships" that have derailed my focus. Whether pushy or manipulating or narcissistic—they are caustic! These are individuals who make me feel I should do this or I should do that (most often for them!). They say, in so many veiled words, "you owe me!"
It is time to reclaim needed energy and to get attention back on track and focused on toothless angels. I have chosen 7 people to pay more attention to in the coming year. Far from "squeaky wheels" you wouldn't even know it if they cried themselves to sleep last night, and sadly, they may have.
In order to be of more use to loved-ones, it may help to spend less time with online correspondence (email, Facebook, et compagnie...) in order to correspond with those very near and dear "toothless" angels. What about you, do you have any relations toxiques that you'd like to swap for angels in need?
...Or maybe you need to carve out time to get a tooth fixed? I'm going to try to pick up the phone and call my dentist now....
With wishes for a peaceful and healthy new year, take care,
P.S. how do you know if a relationship is toxic? How do you feel in the presence of this kind of relationship? What do we really owe another? When you give, do you expect something in return? What are your resolutions for the new year? What and what will you focus on? What will you give up? Who really needs your help? Will you help someone you are mad at? Can you forgive? Does someone need to forgive you? Thanks for sharing!
le cellier = cellar
finalement = finally
t'étais au courant? = were you aware?
un gant de toilette = wash cloth
la voisine (le voisin) = neighbor
et compagnie = and the rest
Smokey's parents: that's Sam, left, and Mama Braise on the right.
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi