It is November and more so than any other month of the year, my thoughts turn to Michael. It’s always a very strange month for me when others want to join up to celebrate Michael’s life, and I just want to be alone with my thoughts and memories.
This year I visited his villa in the South of France. I was on a ship that docked in Monte Carlo and I rented a car and drove to the villa on the chance that the present owner would actually be there and allow me entry. The villa was always a happy place for us all and Michael was always very relaxed and at peace there.
I was in luck. After getting lost a couple of times (some of the surroundings had changed, and it was a Sunday –not many people around to ask directions) we finally drove up to the gates. I was very nervous as I rang the bell and the gardener, looking quite annoyed, came to find out who had arrived - uninvited. After a slow start, (I don’t speak French), he finally went down to the pool to ask his employers what he should do with the lady who wouldn’t go away. I did get that the new owners –who have no interest in the music industry, do not wish to be disturbed by ‘the fans of Michael’. Even though I explained that I was family, he was very hesitant to go to his employer.
After a few minutes, a very attractive lady came walking down the driveway that I know so well and as she did, the gates opened. She came up to me and introduced herself and said she would be honored to have me come in and see what she had done to preserve the property. As we walked toward the house, she stopped and asked how I was related to Michael –clearly the translation from me to gardener, to owner had taken its’ toll. She gave me a hug and called out to the gardener, “This is the sister of Michael”. A half hour later, after a tour of the newly furbished home, the four of us were sitting around the pool over a beautiful bottle of wine.
This is a lovely family and Michael would be pleased to see what they have done to his former home. Esthetically they have made the best choices –many things that Michael had spoken of doing himself. They have opened up the original structure, and expanded upon the vegetable garden that Michael was so proud of. They sent me off with olive oil from the trees in the garden. I told them how my daughter and I used to make little lavender pillows from the bushes on the property and they gave me a supply to bring home. It was a wonderful, joyful, melancholy, afternoon. Of course I felt Michael everywhere. They invited me to return and stay next time. I am glad I waited this long to visit; I was ready for it. This was a day full of healing for me.
The owners do understand and respect that Michael has a following and they told me that occasionally there are floral arrangements outside of the gates; but I beg you, even if you know the address, please do not bother these wonderful people, they deserve to enjoy the property as their home.
My heartfelt thanks to all of you who have sent messages of love and hope over the years. I am constantly surprised and overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and concern that comes our way. We all appreciate it so very much.
I wish you all a safe and inspirational Thanksgiving. Michael we love you so very much.
November 20, 2009