I often admire how self sufficient the people round here are. It is of course partly due to their hatred of waste and spending money “unnecessarily” and goes back to the fact that this was, until relatively recently, a very poor and isolated area, but there are limits and unfortunately our mayor was recently a victim of this do it yourself attitude: on a sunny Sunday a couple of weeks ago, he had a chat to a neighbour at about 12, left to have lunch, but decided to quickly fix a problem with his roof first. He fell from the roof and after an airlift to Toulouse and a lot of ups and downs, the family had to decide to switch the machines off.
I don’t share this tragic event lightly, but it is part of my life here and Gilles Bousquet, maire of Bournazel was quite a part of that, taken away at 49 and leaving two young girls.
A funeral in the around here is a very different event to one in Britain. Firstly, they happen very quickly after the event (usually on the third day), this one took slightly longer to organise. Secondly the rules about who goes are different as well. You are expected to go if touched in any way by the person; an example was when a work colleague of mine lost her mother, I was surprised that everyone kept asking if I was going. At first I said no, seeing no reason why I would be going to the funeral of someone I had never met. After being asked for the third time I consulted a local oracle, and discovered that I was expected to go to “support my colleague in her mourning”. There are plenty of other examples of why you should go, not least in my case the fact that I only work until 2 pm so am available!
Our village of 300 can certainly be proud of the touching, respectful goodbye we gave to our mayor. The church which is closed for refurbishment was reopened, no easy task given the mountains of paperwork required in France. Chairs were shipped in, the various associations, the members of the council all came together to clean and organize. People started arriving two hours before the service, the population of the village nearly tripled for the afternoon, but near silence prevailed through the village. For the service the church was full to bursting as was the square outside and all that could be heard was the sound of the crows circling the chateau and the church.
People don’t wear black, best jeans will do, there’s no pomp, but this was a final farewell that the village can be proud of.
Goodbye, god bless you Gilles