My most recent Post in this series ended with 2019. At the end of that year our son and his friend had paid us a surprise visit in France and we had a fabulous time. But there were times when I listened to RD talking with them, joking with them, that I realised just how much he missed that interaction, missed ‘the craic’ as they would say in Ireland, or ‘the banter’ as they would say in the UK. We loved our neighbours and French friends but the language was still so restrictive for them as well as for us. Listening to RD with the boys was another message that had been sent my way to consider our position.
For the first time RD had work through the beginning of the winter, and although it was still tough it wasn’t as tough as it had been in previous years. So still the doubts crept in from the Spin Doctor’ who lives in the left hand side of our brain: ‘Were we doing the right thing leaving our pretty French house?’
In the early hours of New Years Day, our beautiful cat, Molly, died in my arms. She was twenty, it was expected, but I know now that it was also a marking of the end, a reminder that all things change, that we have to let go. It was at that point I know that ‘Life’ decided to push the issue because we weren’t truly listening…
By the February of 2020 we were again scrapping around for work, and the euphoria of Tom’s visit had worn off. Winters in France are bleak, everything shuts down, it’s literally like everyone just battens down the hatches and disappears. The message from ‘Life’ was clear: Get out! It’s never going to get better!
As if to re-enforce this, some really good friends (two of only a handful) came to see us at short notice and told us they’d had enough of France and that their house was on the market. We were sad, RD was close to Bri, and they had been good friends to us, some of the few ‘nice’ ones. They told us they had just had enough of the bureaucracy and of the English in our area, and that another couple that we knew and liked were also selling up and going back to the UK. It made us both individually think ‘we do need to go, this is not for us.’ Knowing that other people were thinking the same us, felt the same as us. It was as if ‘Life’ was underlying what we sub-consciously thought. But how could we afford to get the money together to leave?
Lou had been working on the Channel Island of Jersey for nearly a year, living away from home. The money was regular and good and she suggested I go too. I didn’t want to leave RD, or my beloved furries, but ‘Life’ was sending this to us, it was pushing us, and I knew I had to bite the bullet and go.
That decision was reaffirmed by ‘Life’ because within two weeks I found myself on the Channel Island of Jersey.
Leaving RD and the puppies at the port at 6.30am had been one of the hardest things I had done, I cried once RD was out of sight and he cried in the van. It set the train of thoughts on track to make me really question what the hell I was doing, this was the only way we could survive, but it wasn’t the life either of us wanted.
As it turned out my first placement was with one of the most fabulous people I will ever meet in my lifetime. We just clicked immediately, she was ninety-four years old, and wise. Every day that I cared for Barb she asked me why I was doing what I was doing. Would tell me I was so clever and could do anything I wanted. Every single day….When I left her it was with the understanding I would go back to her on my return.
And then Covid hit town!
The role involved working two weeks on, two weeks off, but of course that all went South after Covid. I found myself Literally trapped on Jersey for over nine weeks. My one blessing in what was such a difficult time was the new person I had been placed with, and her fabulous private carer. They made it all more than bearable, showed me Jersey and I am still friends with them today. I still refer to us all as ‘The Three Amigos’. But I also knew that there was a reason that I worked for that length of time, because life was giving us the tools we needed to get out of France.
Living away from my family was not part of my plan, our plans. Life is too short to be away from those you love, and as we well know, and understand, everything can change in a heartbeat.
However when I finally got home we still talked about how, with regular income, we could still stay in France for one more year, to ‘enjoy’ France. I loved the people I cared for, so I thought ‘yeah I can keep doing this.’ So ‘Life’ then started to get pissed off because we weren’t listening and hit me round the head to make me see sense…..
I returned to Jersey a month later. After a difficult journey on the only mode of transport during the pandemic: a fishing boat, which involved a terrifying climb down a long ladder and a step back across the void onto the boat. When I arrived in Jersey I was left in a hotel for five days with zero information about my placement. I was on the understanding that I would be going back to my previous client, but I found out that in fact I would be going to a client that could be challenging, and where proper risk assessments had not taken place. I was told I was ‘ good with difficult situations’ and that was it! I felt as if I was back to being the person clearing up everybody else’s crap and it triggered me . I realised at that moment that I could not continue with the job if that was the role I was going to be given, with no continuity. I found myself spiralling into a frightening place to the point that RD just wanted me to go home.
Bri and Lou also sold there house and told us they would be leaving France in September. Bri and RD had been each others support as Lou and I worked away, and now that would be changing too and I worried for RD at the thought of him being alone in France for the winter. My mind was made up, I knew that ‘Life’ had its hand behind our backs and was now pushing us to where we needed to go. I refused to work longer than my two weeks and went home to put our house on the market. It was up for sale by the end of July.
Now this was where it started to move quickly. I returned to Jersey and Barb and I spent a fabulous month together laughing in her garden whilst watching the birds. Barb told me I should be with RD, that she felt that moving to Ireland was the right thing for me, that I should always believe in myself. It was clear that this was our goodbye and I will always treasure that time.
Houses in France do not sell quickly, and can take years to sell, as the French tend to rent rather than own. We had the added advantage of Brexit looming and the frantic rush that had caused Brits wanting to buy a house in France, to purchase sooner rather than later. But there were no guarantees and houses could still take months to sell. When RD and I signed the agreement to sell the house we both looked at each other and said “‘Life’ will show us the way.” We knew and believed that from all the things we had learned over the six years in France. And she did, we sold our house in 10 days!
When I returned to France we had a shindig with our French neighbours and friends, a last hurrah, although we didn’t realise it at the time. When we we told them the new people seemed nice they replied ‘but they’re not you and Richard’, our eyes filled with tears. They were all the truly best part of being in France. I would be lying if I didn’t say it made us wonder again: were we doing the right thing. I remember saying to RD ‘But we can’t stay because of them, because all things change.’ But I won’t lie, sometimes listening to ‘Life’ is hard and the last time I walked around my garden in the early autumn sunshine was poignant.
By the October I had left work and returned home. As if to reaffirm my words to RD I returned to the sight of a bereft Nadia, she and Marc had split up suddenly and Montaigu never felt the same again.
During October we were busy packing our belongings. People had heard we were leaving and RD was busy doing final jobs for them. But despite this it was tight pulling everything together for such a big move: Diagnostica reports, vet fees for the furries jabs, boat fares, air BnB deposits, but still everything just fell into place. Every time I put something up for sale I sold it within a day. I got on really well with the wonderful lady who owned the cattery (even though I had never met her) and she said we didn’t have to pay anything until we picked the cats up when it was time to leave. The boat fares, for some reason, came in at over a hundred euros less than we had estimated, as did the vet fees and so much more. It was literally like the dominos at the beginning of this blog, we were doing what ‘Life’ knew as best for us and it was making it happen, because we believed.
There were some things that really stood out for me: we were going to book the boat after our house monies had been realised and leave France on the third of January, but when I checked (before the sale had gone through) there were no boats available to accommodate the dogs. I had no option but to book the boat there and then for the thirtieth of December. I was concerned that paying for it immediately wouldn’t be possible but when I checked our bank account there were enough funds there, and some. It was because the lovely man we were going to rent from in Ireland didn’t want any money up front. Something he had told me only the night before I had checked the boat sailings, enabling us to book the boat and arrive in Ireland on New Years Eve.
Ireland locked down on the 2nd of January! ‘Life’ pushed us to make that booking for an earlier sailing, and we had enough belief to listen.
There will be more, about how our life has come together here in Ireland. I would say ‘as if it was meant to be,’ But I know it WAS meant to be!
If this series of posts has inspired you to open your mind, then I am doing what I was meant to do by just sharing our story. If that’s you here’s some books you may want to read: ‘Synchro Destiny’ by Deepak Chopra. ‘Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life’ Dr, Wayne Dwyer, God Doesn’t Have Bad Hair Days, Pam Grout. And, of course, ‘The Road Less Travelled’ by M.Scott Peck. But be warned if you travel this path you may well leave some people behind. That’s why it’s called ‘The Road Less Travelled.’
Before you buy one of these books you do need one things: an open mind.