Letters from Armorica— 15 Janvier 34 AF

Dear Journal,

Amelie's father has passed. He died in the night, in his bed, with Amelie by his side.

It was not a surprise, not for any of us. He had been growing weaker by the day, and for the past week I have had to carry him to his seat by the fire each morning. He wanted to be there, where he could see us. He did not speak during his last days, but I think….I think he was no longer worried about Amelie, or about me, for he smiled at me when I laid him in his bed yesternight.

I was making tea when Amelie called my name, and hurried into his room. She was holding his hand, but the light had gone from his eyes. We sat there until dawn; then I went to tell the Tremblay's, and fetch help.

He cannot be buried this time of year, of course; the snow lies deep over the graveyard behind the little church. But there is a grotto nearby where he may lie safe and dry in his coffin until spring comes, and then he shall be laid to rest. It is bittersweet to think that the same priest who blesses our marriage will also bless his grave, and likely on the same day.

We carried him to the grotto, I and five other men of the village, attended by Amelie and the rest of those living close by; and then we returned home and sat by the fire in our chairs.

I was staring at the little models of wood dotting the ceiling, staring but not seeing them for thoughts of my father-in-law, when Amelie said, "Tomorrow you must take down the sign."

I'm afraid I looked blankly at her, for she repeated, "The sign. Tomorrow you must take it down, for it is not right. Our name, it is Tuppenny. It would have been wrong to change it while mon pere was still with us, but now it must be changed. And with the snow to the eaves, zut alors! When shall it be so easy to get at? So you must bring it in, and I shall repaint it while you work on your models." And she nodded so decisively that it did not occur to me until much later to question whether the other villagers would see it as she did. But if I cannot trust my Amelie to know these things, I am lost. Tomorrow I shall bring in the sign; and then I shall continue to work on the control problem for my little models; and so it will be until the snows melt.

photo credit: mikecogh Basic Coffin Type 1 via photopin (license)