Language and love

For all her want of memory Mme El remains fully motivated for the subject she is most interested in and which when addressed will produce prompt, clear, logical reactions.
This subject is love and everything to do with it. She likes to deal with it in Oc, as in her favourite dictum manja ou dremi ou l’amour entreteni – eat or sleep or love, which one do you prefer, she asks me. I hold back my answer and she volunteers that she prefers manja. Then she answers for me ‘you prefer love, coquine!’ and a bit later still that I’m quite right and really she, too, prefers love.
In the routine of every-day life love, for her, is limited to marriage and marital fidelity, a moral issue, ‘marcher droit’, walk straight, that’s what she learnt from her grandma. The wife lives for the husband, helps him, supports him, makes the burden of life easier for him. She expects that he pays back in the same way and woe to him if he doesn’t! I understand that in respect of love her grandma didn’t clamp down on her son as she did on her granddaughter.
Certainly Mme El was devoted to her husband. When he died she fell very ill and nearly died, too, prompting tears in Gerrer’s eyes. Subsequently she took to greeting him every day in her diary by writing ‘bonjour, Bernard’. She has a diary with a page for every day and has always enjoyed writing and writes well and with verve. Elegant lines and an ornamental dash on capitals, like on the ‘B’, initial letter of her husband’s name, sometimes a long wriggle all the way down the page.
She makes a point of greeting him in her diary every morning.
The other day she had forgotten and I reminded her. But she said with a deep look that it’s been done already, the greeting.

I told her that I greet my Maman every morning and she concerned ‘how old was she?’ Then she proceeded to writing ‘bonjour’ into her diary.
Her father, I hear, whom she called by his surname like everyone else and a nice name, too, meaning ‘falcon’ or ‘falcou’7Falcou, common patronym originating in latin (Falcon) widely spread in both northern and southern Europe in the form of Falke, Falcone, Falcon, Falcou and others, the latter particularly present in the ‘département’ Aude while Falcon occurs most in Haute Loire and Ain, was a jolly man enjoying life, not working beyond reasonable limits. She frequently says that without expanding the point beyond a meaningful laugh. He was a passionate hunter and a keen choir member. He brought his friends home and her grandmother provided many a good meal for the merry company. She mentions one in particular, ‘De…’, surname only, one of those who took an interest in her, the motherless girl. I was ‘gâtée’, she laughs, spoilt, and I don’t understand what she means, for I comment ‘good for you’ which she dismisses without saying much except ‘bah’. I wonder did they give her presents, but she waves this idea aside, saying that she doesn’t remember and then with a stern face ‘imagine these men who all had wives… how can they… no ! It isn’t right… they shouldn’t and they mustn’t, full stop’. She herself is for straight – ‘droit’, making the relevant movement with her hand, ‘marcher droit’, she says yet again, that’s what her grandma taught her and that’s what she has done all her life. As for her father, she shrugs her shoulders.

Her husband a ‘coquin’, she says repeatedly. Did he…
She doesn’t know and it doesn’t bother her, but certain things she finds unforgivable. Is a man allowed to look at another woman, I ask, you can’t forbid that! She ponders a little and then answers, no, he mustn’t! I ask, did she ever look at another man. She is a little bewildered at that before saying a definite no. She distantly reminds me of my mother who no doubt held similar views on this subject. Mme El’s attitude is marked by her grandmother Marie, also her mother’s name – as distinct from the merry grandfather? In reply Mme El repeats ‘I wouldn’t have had a ‘vadrouilleur’ , thus making clear what she understands by this word and she tells me about somebody’s friend’s husband who forsook his wife for the benefit of another woman, a relationship which, however,
came to an end and the husband was received back into the fold. ‘Would you have had him back???’ Mme El asked me, eyes flashing, ‘I wouldn’t!’. Didn’t she look determined!

Mme El : ‘mon grand-père, mon père … des vadrouilleurs’ (ladies’ men) moi : ‘je sais maintenant ce que vous entendez par là!’
Mme El : ‘vous vadrouillez?’
moi : ‘et si je le faisais?’
Mme El : ‘c’est dangereux…’
moi :???
Mme El : “le mari…”

Mme El: ‘my grandfather, my father … they were roaming’
I: ‘I now know what you mean by that!’
Mme El: ‘Do you roam?’
I: ‘What if I did?’
Mme El: ‘That’s dangerous…’
I : ???
Mme El: ‘the husband…’

Mme El is obviously quite capable of shifting the focus from moral to practical. Love is ‘amusant’, amusing she says. Not that she would have allowed herself to look for amusement elsewhere.

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    Falcou, common patronym originating in latin (Falcon) widely spread in both northern and southern Europe in the form of Falke, Falcone, Falcon, Falcou and others, the latter particularly present in the ‘département’ Aude while Falcon occurs most in Haute Loire and Ain