Throughout the months I have spent here with friends, there have been times each of us wished we had been a bit closer to home for one reason or another. One of these times was whenever a family member or friend had passed away and we felt the need to be around our relatives. I experienced this in mid-March when my Grandpa Tim passed away. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go home and remember him properly with my loved ones.
Grandpa Tim was such a character. He served the local police force for 30 years and touched many lives through the D.A.R.E program. He was a man of few words and loved to joke. Some of the best memories I have are centered around watching Westerns, sitting at coffee with his crazy friends, and playing cards at Grandma's every Sunday. When I found out about his passing, I immediately received support from all of my family, in the US as well as here in France. The support I got from all of my friends here was absolutely astounding. I had people approach me via Facebook, in the hall at school, and through text just to offer a kind word of support. Even with all of these lovely people by my side, I still felt the need to go home and be with my family, as most people feel in this situation. I got to go home for two days and was able to read the eulogy at Grandpa’s funeral, which was a huge honor. It was so wonderful to see my family, some friends, and the glorious mountains of Colorado. I also got to eat some Mexican food!
Although it felt wonderful to be in a familiar place, it felt distant and weird as well like being thrown back into my culture for such a short period of time would be. This allowed me to see a lot of cultural differences between the U.S and France. The usual things like eating habits and the types/qualities of food, dress, and overall lifestyle. The most interesting thing to observe was peoples’ reactions to me when they saw me. A lot of people that I have known for many years ignored me and pretended to not see me even if I was in clear sight. I was the one to approach them about 80% of the time. I have never experienced this in France. Even if I met a person once for five minutes, if I see them again, they are sure to greet me and I them.
This little glimpse back into my American life intrigues me and I am curious to see how my re-entry into the American culture will pan out. I am hopeful that a lot of the French cultural practices that I enjoy stay with me and that I am able to create a balance for myself. Perhaps even show others my perspective too!
|In Memory of Timothy Pepin|