Listening to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald and thinking of my great grand-aunt Rose who loved so much carnations. Born in 1909, the last of eleven children she has been her entire life a model of strength, determination, honesty, infinite love and generosity; and all this with a serious dose of humour!

There are facts that I know about her, things she used to tell. Her injury caused by a train while she was a working kid, her work as a maid in a family in Paris together with her older sister, how they went to Galeries Lafayette on their day off, just to contemplate, and of course their love for ice cream, whipped cream and that special cake we call Saint Honoré. She could walk 20 kilometers just to buy one!

In the years of Popular Front she fought among others for the right to strike, the right for annual leave, for a limit of 40 hours of work a week. During the second world war with bravery and courage she passed informations and food to members of the resistance. She was so proud to tell us her adventures and how she did it. Her life took a somber face when her husband, a miner, died at an early age and left her widow at the age of forty. She has been mourning him until her own death, her eyes were full of tears every time she talked about him. He was the love of her life. When we visited her, she was always pleasant and our time with her was full of laugh, good food and good spirit. She was the kind of person who always cheers you up, looks at the bright side and keeps moving on.

When she died, there was a carnation bouquet on the fridge, in front of the picture of her husband smiling at her. There was a carnation bouquet this day, like all the other days. Every week a new one, different colours but always a carnation bouquet.

She isn’t here anymore. I can’t smell the Nivea creme perfume in her neck anymore. I can’t put my hand on her, chat with her, let her read my destiny in cards.

I only have carnations now and her loving memory.



All rights reserved Carole Rey



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