Reunited 2008 travel blog

Beach on Brittany coast at outdoor restaurant

View outside front door, Jacques house

Jacques House near Scrignac, France

Bench and countryside at Jacques' home

Morliax to Scrignac, France

Early 2007: Before Ruth died in Nov of 2006, she asked to be cremated with Bob’s photos upon her death; then most of her ashes were scattered at sea off the coast of Florida as per her wishes. She was a very practical person and had no religious or other ceremony planned when she finished her life on earth, probably trying to save feelings and money. Yet, we felt that something was missing after her passing and decided to hold some of her ashes back to eventually take to France and be placed at Bob’s gravesite.

In early 2007, when we first started planning our trip, we were researching the location of the cemetery and internet links led us to a newspaper article that had been written in 2004 in Cornwall, England. We were able to trace the article to a very helpful woman in Nova Scotia, named Patsy H., who had been researching the history of British War Brides in England. She and her cousin Mylinda, had posted the article, written by an English newspaper reporter named Ian Sheppard, and Patsy eventually sent us a scanned copy of the article and spoke with us on the phone. The article told the story of Simonne as described by her son, Jacques, who was then a college professor in England; they had been trying to find Bob’s family because it was Simonne’s lifelong dream to contact them. We tracked Ian to Cyprus where he currently lives but we were unable to find Jacques until a chance search of the internet led us to his daughter and then to him.

Over the next year, we made plans to meet Jacques in May of this year and quietly take the ashes of Ruth to Brest to be reunited with Bob. Jacques surprised us with a ceremony at the graveside, including press coverage and representation by the mayor's office so that our arrival would eventually become an occasion that we never anticipated.

15 May 2008- Around noon Jacques met us in Morlaix and it was like meeting an old friend. We said our farewells to Stafford and Jenny and drove to a beautiful restaurant on a bay where over a delicious lunch, we heard the story of his family as he recounted his parent’s life during and after the war. Then we drove to his country home near Scrignac, toured the town and settled into his home for a two night stay. That evening, Jacques prepared a wonderful dinner that lasted over 3 hours and afterward, he played the guitar and sang. We were fortunate to have his sister, Marie-Claude join us so we could get to know her as well. Both of them told us many stories about their family and of their Mother, Simonne, who had unfortunately died tragically a few years earlier.

Jacques lives in a rural setting, looking out over a green farmer’s fields with a view of rolling hills that go on for miles. The bedroom was so comfortable, with wooden floors and ceilings made of tongue and groove pine boards and the bed was covered by Simonne’s down comforter that embraced us as soon as we fell into bed. When we awoke in the morning, we knew if our sons were with us and looked up at the ceiling, it would have reminded them of their childhood bedrooms in Germany with the same pinewood ceilings and comforters on the beds. We prepared to go to Brest the next day, where the reason for our trip would play out.

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