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June 19, 2020

I was just about to start writing my entry this morning when my cell phone rang. I recognized the international number on the screen. It was Jeannie in Paris. “Happy Birthday! I’m calling a day ahead because I may not be able to call tomorrow.” I was thrilled to hear from her. I’m staring at the box you mailed to me last month, I told her. “Well, open it!” she said, in her usual matter-of-fact way. It’s only a card, she added.

Well, it was more than a card. It was a lovely collage of photos of many memorable times together – on a bridge in Paris, a barbecue at our home, outings with young Jacqueline and little John, hers and Stephane’s stateside wedding reception, and her visit here last year when we shocked her with a surprise appearance of our dear friend Rocky. Jeannie was the most incredible host when Rocky went on his European adventure several years ago. It was priceless to see her practically faint when Rocky “appeared out of nowhere.” On that visit, she had brought Louie gifts of beautiful authentic French berets.

Jeannie and I met in 1979 at Spanish language school in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and we’ve been BFFs ever since. She’s everything you would want in a friend – honest, sincere, funny, and someone you can count on for everything and anything. Jeannie is the best communicator, her mother used to tell me. She was right. We’ve shared young motherhood, our children in college, our children as adults, recovering from illnesses, and now the coronavirus.

An example of Jeannie’s generosity – and honesty: When Jacqueline’s high school class did the traditional trip to Europe, Paris was one of the stops. Jacqueline and her friend Anika (who is now a newspaper editor) were given permission to separate from the main group of students to spend the afternoon with Jeannie who had planned an agenda with all things French. She had taken the girls to a restaurant to experience foie gras. But the service at the restaurant was not to Jeannie’s liking, Jacqueline said, so, they all walked out. When they returned home, I asked Anika, “What was the best part of your trip to Europe?”

“Meeting Jeannie!” she replied without hesitation.

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Barbara Place
Barbara Place
21 jun 2020

I have wanted to return to Paris for years. In 1971 I went to a Spanish language school in Cuernavaca. It had been started, I believe, by Ivan Illich. I stayed with a Mexican family. I wonder if it was the same one.

Most importantly, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

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