We spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve of 1999 in Paris.
We toured Notre Dame Cathedral. Le Louvre. Avenue des Champs-Élysées. L’Arc de Triomphe.
We lit a candle for my dying grandfather in Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, beneath the sacred heart of Christ. I prayed for him. My candle – alone – went out. We left the cathedral in tears. We knew.
Later to the South. We toured the Langedoc: Montpellier. Carcassonne. Nîmes. Le Côte d’Azur. It was cold and grey.
We celebrated the Millennium at La Tour Eiffel. A German stranger planted a big wet sloppy kiss on my right cheek. We drank Champagne on the Avenue de New Year near the Palais de Chaillot, looking across the river to the fireworks. That effervescent edifice that signifies all things French.
I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. But I missed him. Still do.
In my secret heart, I think the WWII Merchant Marine would have gotten a kick out of that city on that day. I know he’d have enjoyed my being there on that other day. All those other days. So, I try to make it up with my one remaining grandparent. Handsome’s inimitable grandmother, the Capo di Tutti Capi of his clan.
I’m pretty sure it’s not enough . . . that too late is just too late.