LOUISE PENNY’S

The Bistro

The Bistro

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Join us here in The Bistro for a discussion on the entire Gamache series. Feel free to ask or answer any questions about any of the books or the series as a whole.

Discussion on “The Bistro”

Dear Nancy,
Thank you so much for sharing your son Jason with us. How very challenging the last few weeks must have been for you all, particularly finding Jason. I am thinking of you very much and sending you and your family thoughts and prayers. What you and your husband wrote explains simply, yet captures beautifully, the essence of your son, his life and his passing.
Please accept hugs and heartfelt sympathy. When it is hard and the night is long we will be here in the Bistro ready to hold a hand or just sit, or talk. Xxxxxxx

Thank you, Anna. Yes, it was difficult finding him. That’s not the best memory. But we were fortunate to be able to see him at the crematorium (they weren’t sure that would be possible because of the delay in finding him). The staff had done an amazing job so he looked very peaceful and I’m sure that helped us to say goodbye. This was especially important to his siblings and friend. We could write with markers on the casket/box if we wanted and then my husband read some songs that he felt were appropriate (Go Now in Peace, Be Not Afraid). His brother and friend acted as pallbearers.

Be Not Afraid is a favourite of mine. I find that line running through my head a lot especially when life is hard. It is very Three Pines too….Noli Timere…

Oh Nancy, I’m so sorry for your loss! I had the comment page open for hours typing a sentence at a time so I didn’t see yours till just now. Extra special warm thoughts of peace for you, your husband and your son’s siblings. This has really been a hard year for so many in individual ways. Lots of hugs.

I wrote a nice long post. Really. Guess it was my turn to make one disappear. Only I know what happened. I went back a page to refresh my memory and when I returned… poof, gone. Oh well. And that’s the attitude I’ve stumbled upon in the last few days. “Oh well.” It’s a lot easier for me to deal with the many ‘this year is different’ things that have popped up. Do I like all the extra medical appointments and tests. Of course not. But I’m very grateful that basically I’m OK and my immediate family is doing well and going above and beyond helping me when I can’t do this or that so I’ve decided to just be happy as much as possible.

Some moments are still hard, but I think those may always sneak up on me. Like when I let Mike convince me to go with him to Toys R Us to shop for the grand- daughters. Looking at the assortment of Christmas Stockings I saw one adorned with a soccer ball and net. I pointed it out to Mike and said, “Look, my dad would love it!” Then… I remembered my dad passed away two years ago. Oh, that was a hard moment. I had to stop and take several deep breathes before moving on, but I did it. I got passed the moment and we found the perfect gifts for the little ones.
They were all over yesterday and since my speeds are now turtle or stop, I missed wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and/or Happy Chanukah but I can wish you all a Happy Boxing Day if I don’t delay much longer.

Please know I have loved reading everyone’s messages and I’m grateful to have this warm and cozy space (thank you Paul) when I’ve needed to hide from the real world for a bit with a cup of hot tea. Blessings and warm wishes to all.

Now that Christmas is past I want to explain why our Christmas was not the usual one. My husband wrote most of the following message to our friends which explains all. So this is ..” to inform you all of the passing of our middle son who died in his sleep of a heart attack at age 45. The doctor who came stated that he had been dead for three days when we found him on Friday morning, December 9. We had not heard from him since Tuesday night.

Jason has had heart issues for the past five years, yet had not taken his meds on any regular basis, nor was he willing to change his energetic life style. A truck driver, he was not a church person, yet had a simple and effective faith. He could carry on a conversation with virtually anyone, and was an influence for good with many people he met. ….he had said numerous times that when he died , he did not want a service, and that he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes scattered along the north shore of Lake Superior–a beautiful region where he had lived and traveled through many times while driving truck.”

He had never married and had no children. One brother was not able to be here in time but his other brother and twin sister, along with my husband and I, my best sister/friend and his close trucker friend gathered at the crematorium on December 13 to spend time with him and say our goodbyes. We will go to Northern Ontario next summer to scatter the ashes.

Jason was not happy for many years although he often wore a happy face. He felt that he didn’t belong anywhere and preferred to live his life “full out” rather than restricting it in any way. So we knew this was coming but the reality of his death is still a shock. I had the thought the other day that he actually did what few others can say…he lived the way he wanted to and died in his sleep (he had his earbuds in and had been listening to music) the way he wished. And now he is at peace.

And the wind blows. Gosh…watch the energy drain away when walking in the biting wind. We had to stop frequently to refuel. The first stop was Au Petit Coin Breton for crepes and to admire the different types of winter attire on everyone braving the chilly day. I did try my French but suffice to say I am much better reading than speaking.
Peter had already been for a walk and took us to the Lower town, by the road not the stairs. I am not good on hills and with a cold I get breathless even going down as there is still a bit of ice despite obvious clearing and salting. Must cost the city a lot of money!
The lower town is pretty but the shops are very touristy. We popped into a couple including the sugar cabin. Not sure I appreciate strawberry flavoured maple syrup..I like the regular flavour! We rested by the fire and I caught my breath then we wandered over to see the icy River. I found it spectacular but dangerous!
Unfortunately if one comes down to the lower town and one’s hotel is in the upper town, a climb must ensue and the funicular was not running. Ugh. I made my way slowly up the stairs and found a seat to rest upon. I sent Erin to buy herself popcorn from the popcorn boutique. We many varieties from which to choose she went with plain! We took the hill slowly. I think I would have been okay if my nose wasn’t blocked. At the Chateux we rested but the wind! Erin, who is devoid of fat, was looking miserable.
We opted to head for La Buche cafe and more food. Pete and I went soup and hot chocolate but Erin devoured sausages and eggs as though breakfast, a couple of hours before, had never happened. Back at the hotel we are resting in preparation for dinner at Chez Boulay. It is only a short walk thank goodness as it should be snowing by then.
Pardon any of my mangled French above!
Her is hoping that life settles into comfortable post Christmas routines for all.
I am thinking of you and sending strength Cathryne. If you look to the East and up a bit I am waving from my hotel window. I totally understand when you say you feel vulnerable.

Ah, but you can find yourself fireside even outdoors, Anna! How I envy you your adventures in a strange, while still familiar, land! Having read Bury Your Dead for the Manyeth time (thank you, Cathryne), I know it must seem familiar even though it’s your first time there. Cathryne – I’m so sorry your mother is having a hard time. I hope it’s “just the holidays”, as that’s soon got over when you get to the January usualness… (I must admit, to me, they’ve always been the “January Blah’s”, though not as bad as the dark days of February. I always think that after January, you should really start to see some movement toward spring, and of course, in Winnipeg, that just doesn’t happen. I realized one year that every time I’ve ever left a job, it was in February – I just get antsy for things to change, I guess! And if the weather won’t, then I will! Luckily, it’s not so bad and February seems much less dark and dreary here in Seattle, so it’s a feeling I haven’t had for quite some time. But I will always conjure it up in my mind a bit, as February looms… It seems the darkest and longest month, though it’s neither.

Visiting the cold and snow is a very different prospect to living it every day. I am not surprised you sought spring by Feburary!

Hello all. So good to hear from you Cathryne but I am sorry about your mum. I know the stress it creates when mothers in care are being difficult. The worry is great.
I shall try and bring you little stories to lighten your day. I am typing this from an Adirondack chairbeside an outdoor fire on Rue Du Le Petit Champlain near La Petite Cabane a Sucre. Julie is right a little bit of cold stops no one and its a bonny -12 C. A creeping cold….insidious. It feels fine till you realise you cant feel your face!

Merry Christmas to you all. I have been enjoying your posts very much and they have all brought Christmas joy when I most looked for it. There is much, much to be grateful for in my life, as always, but I’ve been up and down and somewhat vulnerable lately. My mom has been quite hostile to the caregivers where she lives, angry and hostile with many relatives and some friends too. It’s not a new thing, but seems worse. So hard to know if it’s the holidays or signs of things to come. My sons and their families and my husband have been a great help and my mom’s friends and sister have been amazingly kind.

Anna, your description of “standing in the hotel window watching the snow bluster by while all sleep” was lovely and I have enjoyed it in my mind many times. Also your pleasure in looking out over the ice flows and the old town, while “sticky with Taffy.” Ahhhh, I was there with you, warm new coat and all. I have to reread, for the manyeth time, Bury Your Dead.

Julie, I can see myself having a particular meal in order to make a dish from the leftovers! It sounds so good!

Barbara, relatives who knew us “when,” yes. I’m so glad you embraced the experience and allowed the shared memories to give you pleasure. “Beautiful memories,” indeed. The holidays bring these opportunities to us sometimes.

Nancy, I hope your Christmas that was “not the usual one” was …what? Better now, more usual now? I send good thoughts. By the way, I’m with you on F. and C.

I have, for many years, liked January, for its day after dayness, its sameness, no holidays, a river flowing with stability and predictability. I guess I like its usualness!

Millie, I hope you are well and that you have had many joyful times with your granddaughters over the holidays. I had a very happy time playing with modeling clay today with two grandsons.

Warmest wishes.

Merry Christmas, all. Our day starts slowly here, so I feel very virtuous that I was up and out of bed before noon, hahaha. Our Christmas feast this year will be roast beef instead of turkey, but I’ve also been spellbound by a recipe for Christmas “leftovers” – a pie of dressing, turkey and cranberries that I must try, too, so I’ve been figuring on a small chicken tomorrow. Topsy-turvy world for me when I plan a meal around the leftovers I’ll get from it, hahaha. I hope everyone is where they want to be, surrounded by loving family, warm and happy.

Merry Christmas to all. I wish happiness and joy to each of you. Carol and I spent a lovely few hours with a 2nd cousin and her husband, son and daughter. Her Mother and my Daddy were 1st cousins. The two cousins were always close and her family a part of our Harley Christmas Celebration. It was nice to remember those wonderful Christmases and Linda when she was a little girl. I miss all of those loved ones so much but am warmed with beautiful memories.
Again Merry Christmas !

I’m glad you’re getting some snow, Anna. I’ve been thinking of you and wishing for a Snowy Christmas. Yes, I do live in Montreal ( the borough called N.D.G) and in Fahrenheit it’s been up to 39 degrees with melting snow everywhere. My children are fine with C. but I still haven’t figured it out except that 30 C is hot (about 90 F. ??) and O C. is 32 F.

I wish you all a very Merry and peaceful Christmas. Ours has not been the usual one but I will tell you about that another time.

Dear Nancy, whatever is going on for you This Christmas I am sending warm peaceful Three Pines kind of thoughts. Its lovely to think you are just up the road. I shall wave at you in Montreal when we fly back on Wednesday. Wish we had longer to explore but need time to build a home in DC too.
Its snowing and its just turned to Christmas. Joyeux Noel to everyone. Find peace and joy in whatever small way you can. Like standing in a hotel window watching the snow bluster by while all sleep. Blessings upon you each and everyone.

Happy Christmas Eve, all… may the world rejoice in peace and tranquility for at least this full day… Glad you are enjoying Quebec City’s Old Town, Anna.

Happy Christmas Eve to you and yours, Anna !
I’m leaving the house in a few minutes in short sleeves. No snow for us.
Merry Christmas Eve to everyone. Hanukkah begins at sundown also. The story of Hanukkah is one of my favorite Old Testament stories.
Peace to our world.

But Barbara, I’m scared whatever mangled words I produce will be less benign that calling the night a fruit.
Guess what I am doing….sitting outside the Chateau looking out over the ice flows in the river about to taste maple taffy!
The old town is gorgeous and just as wonderful as you imagine and Louise described. I am a little overwhelmed to take it all in and sticky with taffy!

I know what you mean about the clothing Julie. Pete is sweltering at Montreal airport in a Tshirt. I was hot there too. Made it to Quebec and Pete will be along in a couple of hours. It was interesting watching Erin’s reaction to landing in a Francophone territory. Canada is bilingual but the difference is French being the main language. It is different when the conversation begins in French before the speaker quickly realises you are hopeless at French and switches gears smoothly to English. I am glad there are so many different languages in the world and different cultures. Makes life interesting if occasionally challenging. I am trying to speak French garbled though it is. I am just too slow.
The other thing that makes me laugh is that of course Quebec City is a city, not just the Old town world of Bury Your Dead. But driving through the ‘regular’ town makes the world Louise created seem like a movie set. See how I feel when I have actually been to the Old part of town!

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