Whenever I begin to feel sorry for myself in the area of love and romance, I stop, and I think about my grandmother. You see, my grandmother, Rosemary, met her boyfriend, Henri, when she was just a spry 80 years old. Henri himself was only a couple of years older than her, young at the age of 83. Both of them had been married once before, she to my grandfather, John, and he to his wife in France. Both of them had been married to their spouses for many years before being parted by the deaths of their first loves.
Rosemary met Henri while he was being given a tour of the facilities at her retirement complex here in Anchorage, near 20th and Muldoon. His gentlemanly manor, his wit, and his French accent immediately caught her attention, for Rosemary was a lady who appreciated a man with taste and class, and Henri clearly had both. Soon afterwards, Henri purchased an apartment on the floor above hers. I always suspected he did so only to be closer to his white haired beauty, but whenever I would ask him about it, his eyes would twinkle, and he would only say he bought it, “for the view.”
Soon Rosemary and Henri were spending all of their time together. They would take walks together, holding each other’s hands, and he would make her dinner with all of the rich cuisine and fancy wines of his native country. He cherished Rosemary and together they would spend hours talking about anything and everything while he prepared their evening meals. It was only a couple of months into their friendship when grandmother first became sick. The cancer was discovered during one of her routine checkups, but it was one which grew quickly, and soon she was admitted to the hospital to begin treatments of chemotherapy, including series after series of painful tests and designer drugs. Even though their relationship was still very new, their hearts for each other were full of love and life. Henri came to see Rosemary every day in the Critical Care Unit and on some nights, when the nurses could not bring themselves to ask him to leave, he would sleep on the couch next to her.
Every day he would sit there, holding her hand, and tell her stories about his travels around the world as a pilot for Air France. He would tell her how much he loved her and how beautiful she looked to him, even in her condition. Lying in bed, she would giggle like a school girl at his funny ways of speaking certain English words in his thick French accent. Rosemary and Henri were regulars in the hospital and everyone witnessed how their love and respect for each other was more about the art of love than the science of medicine. You see, for over the next six months, despite being told Rosemary was never going to leave the hospital, she not only got better, but she recovered enough that she left the Critical Care Unit with Henri at her side, still holding her hand. As they left, Henri walked her up to the front of the hospital where there was a new, red, Mercedes convertible waiting for her. He told me he had recently purchased the vehicle, just so he would have something as beautiful as Rosemary to “show her off” as he drove her home.
She and Henri had five more amazing years together before she finally passed away. In her remaining years, I saw my grandmother as happy as I had ever seen her in my entire life. I don’t know much in this world which is absolutely for certain. I know that tomorrow the sun will rise, and tomorrow the sun will set, and I know I loved my son new born son from the very first moment I laid my eyes upon him. The only other thing I know for certain in my heart, and in my head, was if it wasn’t for Henri, my grandmother would have died in the hospital. It was love that saved her, and it was love which gave her the strength to get better. Henri gave her a reason to stay here with us. I would not have been able to enjoy my grandmother for five more years if it was not for Henri Sadrin and his devotion to her. I will be forever grateful to him and although they were never married, Henri is my friend, and my family, not in blood, but where it truly counts, in love.