If I stopped right there you could already imagine what an incredible life she has had.
Last year her husband passed away and she came to live with her daughter, another dear friend who looks like Leslie Caron in Chocolat and who is married to the gentleman who sometimes brings me pastries from a French bakery.
Anyway, Jeanne and I often sit together at church. She is like a tiny bird tucked next to me. Sometimes we write notes to each other. Sometimes I draw pictures and make her smile. I hope that's not too terribly irreverent.
Once, in the middle of the week, she sent me a letter with pictures of her garden in France.
Sometimes we go to lunch together and when we do, we speak mainly in French.
She always orders fish and with that, potatoes. When the plate arrives, she regards it like a child on Christmas morning.
"Oooh, j'adore les pommes de terres!," she exclaims, "Surtout avec le poisson." And then she eats every bite.
Eating something yummy with one of the loveliest people you could imagine while speaking in French: is that the recipe for ultimate happiness?
Last week we had a lunch date and she told me about one of her favorite desert plants, creosote. She kept talking about how good it smelled, how one time she took a branch of creosote back to France and placed it in a cupboard, and every time she opened the door, she was filled with the aroma of the desert.
Which reminded me of my Easter tree, so I told her about the branches I had in my home which smelled like fresh rain.
After lunch I took her to see the Easter tree and guess what? It turns out my plant and her plant are one and the same plant.
Jeanne was absolutely delighted.
Creosote, dear reader. If you ever come to the desert I hope you get to smell it. It has the zen, calming aroma of the first moments of rain.
This week I finally accepted it was time to take down our Easter tree. I thought of Jeanne, who is returning to France for the month of May, and had a tiny idea.
A creosote sachet, filled with the aroma of the desert. For her to take back to the land of wine, cheeses, and rolling hills of lavender.
This way she'll know I'm thinking of her, hoping all is well, and looking forward to exchanging notes in church when it's time for her to return.