Every year, my mom used to send me to my grandparents’ house, in the south of France, where I would spend my entire summers. For a small kid like me, born in the Parisian suburbs, this was like going to heaven.
The small village, of only 200 inhabitants, was a giant playground. I still see myself playing hide-and-seek in its tiny streets, running between 300 year-old houses. Sometimes, I would climb the trees that surround the vineyards. There, everybody made wine. Even my grandpa. He had several vineyards. Every year, after the grape-harvest, he would bring his crop to the wine-growing cooperative to produce one of the best vintage wines of the region. The summers were warm, so every afternoon, I would go swimming in the river, down in the valley. The water coming straight from the upstream mountains, was usually pretty chilly, yet so refreshing! Like all the inhabitants in the region, my days were timed according to the church bell; 7am, 12pm and 7pm sharp: breakfast, lunch and dinner. The days passed by like this. I was so happy that I could have stopped the time here forever.
But the years have passed. Now I am an adult. Yet, when I go back to the village, it feels like time has stopped in the past. My grandparents’ house remains exactly like it was when I was a kid, with all its antique furnitures, tiles and tapestries. At 94 years old, my grandma is now the elder of the village. But to me, she still looks like the grandma that used to cook my favorite meals and that had me pray Our Father before going to bed. Only one thing has changed; my grandpa passed away five years ago. He now rests in peace in the cemetery that happens to be right behind my grandparents’ property. From the familial vault, he actually has a stunning view of the house. The house where he was born and where he ended his life. My grandma likes to think that, from there, he watches everything and that he is soon coming to get her.