A Memorable Place A heartfelt message from France By...

PERSONAL JOURNEYS

April 21, 2002|By Special to the Sun

A Memorable Place

A heartfelt message from France

By Lisa Gerrity

SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I am a true Francophile -- I love everything French: the culture, the language, the food, the people. The experience I had recently, however, will be forever marked in my memory.

I was in Paris, my favorite city. Even though it was mid-January, the skies were crystal clear, and the city was enjoying springlike weather. It was so beautiful that I decided to walk everywhere that day -- to the Louvre, through les Jardins des Tuileries, Place de la Concorde and up the Avenue des Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe.

During my stroll up the Champs-Elysees, I walked past the most beautiful building. I stopped and asked an older woman who was passing by which building it was. She explained to me that it wasn't a building of any particular significance and that I happened to be in an area of Paris where there are a lot of beautiful homes.

I marveled at the house, and she said that as beautiful as it was on the outside, the inside likely would be even more spectacular.

She asked me where I was from, and I told her the United States. She then asked, in the most personal of tones, and with such warmth in her eyes it was as if she knew me personally, "How are things in America?"

I knew immediately that she was referring to Sept. 11. I told her that things were getting back to normal and that with each day, more healing takes place. The events of Sept. 11 had drawn Americans closer and inspired more patriotism than I had ever seen before, I said.

The lady took my hand in hers and said: "Please tell your family and friends when you get home that the people of France and the people of Paris have the American people in their prayers. It was an awful thing to happen, and we must all be strong together and pray."

As she said this, tears streamed down my face, and I replied, "You are so kind, madame, you have no idea what that means to me."

She asked if I had lost anyone in the attacks, and I told her that, no, thankfully, I had not. She bid me au revoir, and I stood there, unable to move because of what had just happened. I was deeply touched by her kindness, and I will never forget her words to me and the warmth in her eyes.

Later that afternoon, I came across the statue of Liberty that stands on an island in the Seine and was reminded of the long-standing friendship between France and America -- and for the first time in Paris, I felt homesick.

Lisa Gerrity lives in Edgewood.

My Best Shot

Bill Hughes, Baltimore

Handsome team in Alaska

My wife and I were in the great state of Alaska recently for a delightful visit. We spent most of our time near pristine Denali National Park and Preserve, and the seaports of Seward and Valdez. Along the way, I got this shot of two beautiful sled dogs.

Readers Respond

Where is your favorite public garden for enjoying spring blossoms?

Sherwood Gardens, Baltimore

Max Gold, Baltimore

"My mom took me to Sherwood Gardens in the spring when I was about 3 years old (I am now 8). I loved the tulips so much that I picked one and wanted to take it home with me. My mom told me that I could not pick any more tulips. I liked running through the gardens and seeing all the flowers and bugs. I still like looking at and planting flowers."

Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pa.

Constance Ambrose, Chestertown

"William Wordsworth's poem 'Daffodils' -- 'A host of golden daffodils / Beside the lake, beneath the trees / Fluttering and dancing in the breeze' -- could have been written about an outdoor informal garden at Longwood Gardens. A sea of red tulips outside the entrance, extensive indoor displays, and immaculate outdoor formal gardens and found displays create lasting memories."

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