One wedding, two funerals and a ”nouvelle maison”.

Pop goes the French champagne cork of my life on the eve of  2011.  How else to  capture the fabulous happenings of 2010 which have taken Olivier’s and my life together to a higher plane.

Goodness. Who would have imagined I would sell the film option for my best-selling book From France With Love, but  young Adelaide film-maker, Peta Astbury wants to bring my love story to the big screen.  And whoever would have thought I would face my greatest fear  and launch my own website in May 2010.  There were daily challenges, but I have written 90 articles since and husband Olivier has dutifully posted them all with accompanying photographs for your information and entertainment. ( hope.)

The year of our family began with the wedding of my step-daughter Sylvie to her long love, Alain, in Pine Creek, Northern Territory.  It was a simple garden ceremony while the rain bucketed down onto the white marquee. A sensational French banquet prepared by a young French chef named Julie, who happened to work there at the bar meant we feasted on oysters, barramundi and entrees galore.  Dessert was a multilayered masterpiece.   The event triggered my return to travel journalism and we enjoyed a trip on The Ghan in platinum class, and the article was publishedin 50-Something magazine.

This was also the year sadness struck our family. Olivier lost his French mother, Giselle, who in Avignon. Despite a mercy flight courtesy of Qantas, he missed saying “Goodbye’ by half an hour. But she knew he was in France and on his way because he telephoned her from the airport before taking the TGV within 50 minutes of arrival. It simply wasn’t meant to be, but at 91, she was suffered a fatal heart attack as he passed the hospital gates.

Despite his grief, he chuckled somewhat when the priest of the historic St Martin’s Basilica in St Remy de Provence was a French speaking black priest from the Ivory Coast. “Maman would have loved a black priest conducting her funeral,’’ he later related.

It was a humble farewell with few villagers attending and she was cremated in Marseilles.

He and his sister, Francoise, scattered their mother’s ashes in the pine forest behind their first home in Pont Demay as she wished.  She lived in the white house close by as a young married woman during the war with her two toddlers before her life tumbled into poverty.

I met Olivier in London in August and we visited Edinburgh with our London family, daughter Serena, Jon and the three grand-children and attended the sensational Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Another glorious road trip around France, a few days in Paris and we returned home to move ourselves from Belair (where Oli had lived for 35 years) to Hindmarsh Island.

I need to backtrack because while Oli was conducting his duties as the only son, I was left alone here in  OZ to pack up our belongings. That one word “belongings’’ is a story in itself as his much-loved things far exceeded mine because I had sifted through my stuff three times.

Our seachange has also presented challenges, not the least being travelling to Adelaide repeatedly. But our island home sits on the marina where the River Murray flows past and all we lack here is a boat tied to the jetty at the bottom of the garden.  Birds are our neighbours.

However, our biggest change this year, a sometimes overwhelming challenge, has been to raze our home at Belair to build our new retirement home.  This is not a task for the faint-hearted!  We took our lunch the day the bulldozers arrived and it was an emotional event for husband Olivier.  However, the foundations of our new retirement home have been poured and we say roll on 2011 to bring us back to our real home – Belair.

My three  children have wrestled all year with the deteriorating health of their dad, Graham Williams, my former husband, who suffered from melanoma. He lived to see his son, Tyson, turn 30 and we had a happy celebration at Tyson’s house on June 12.  Graham died in his bed on November 1 and by chance, I was staying unexpectedly at Tyson’s house that night.  It was a poignant moment, as was Graham’s funeral a few days later. Naturally, the children have been grief-stricken. I don’t know how ex-wives are supposed to feel, but I have wept this year, too, because we were married for 15 years and together for 20 years.  I have much to thank him for especially my tertiary education and at this time all those happy memories rise up in the mind.

To happier things.  In October I was guest speaker at my largest society event – Novita’s Spring Rose Garden lunch which was a sell-out and in November, this event connected me to a prominent South Australian who is keen to try and find funding to bring From France With Love to the screen. Peta has also fulfilled an important clause in our contract and has hired a screen-writer.  So, watch this space.

Challenges help us age well, which is a reason why I started up my Facebook page Life & Style by Nadine Williams in November!

Christmas was a delightful, fun expression of our crazy family life… great French food on Xmas Eve,  traditional turkey and trimmings riverside on Christmas Day, wonderful friendship and great experiences.

However, this has been a unique year because it is the only time I will be living anything like my Germanic forebears,  great-grandmother and grandmother, who lived on the River Murray at Caloote. And I treasure each day here.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year, Joyeux Noel and do check out my website

Be Sociable, Share!

2 Comments to “One wedding, two funerals and a ”nouvelle maison”.”

  1. By Marie Jonsson-Harrison, 04/02/2011 @ 11:38 pm

    A very interesting read dear Nadine, both happy and sad, a snapshot in time with lives lived to the fullest. Maybe they better think about making a mini-series! Love Marie xx

    • By ole, 07/02/2011 @ 1:07 pm

      life is such a continuum, isn’t it?

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply