As she grew older and more feeble, we'd go to Mass alone, then visit at her old, raised wooden house about a quarter mile from the church, complete with a creaky front porch that oversaw the Mississippi River, while she watched Mass on television.
I was young, so I always tried to escape to that porch instead of sitting through a second Mass.
Like clockwork, as the second Mass was ending, my great uncle would show up and bring Grandma Julie a communion wafer. No matter what, I was expected to go inside that old house during the communion.
I was pretty young when Grandma Julie died, having lived well past the normal life expectancy of someone born in her day.
Oh, did you think her name was Julie?
No, it was Julie, pronounced the French way. Her name sort of started with a z sound and the emphasis was all different.
Living in south Louisiana, we studied French in school, due to our many Cajun relatives and ancestors. But Grandma Julie didn't teach me school French. Oh, no.
That sweet old lady taught me all the dirty words in French.
French was her first language, and though I never spoke it fluently, it passed from her blood to mine.
I hadn't thought about Grandma Julie in a long time. Even when the terrorists attacks on Paris happened, and I felt them in my heart all the way across the pond in America, I didn't think of Grandma Julie.
But when I opened my planner tonight to write a blog post about planners, I noticed that French is so much a part of me that pictures of Paris are the design of pages I've chosen for my planner.
I've never been to Paris.
My heart squeezed. Suddenly, I understood why the Paris terrorist attacks, more than any other attacks, gripped me so tightly.
I've dreamed of visiting Paris, of seeing the home of my ancestors, forever. It's on my very short bucket list. French culture is a part of my culture.
For me, an attack on Paris was no different than an attack on America. Both made me scared, angry, and sad in the same way.
As long as I knew her, Grandma Julie had a crooked finger from some long forgotten injury. She warned us that if we were bad, she'd shake that finger at us from her grave.
At her funeral, my dad swears that he saw her shake that finger, right there in her open coffin in that old, beautiful church where we always celebrated Mass with her.
I can picture her, up in heaven, shaking her finger at those attackers for harming her beloved people.
I've never been to Paris. But Paris is in my heart.
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