Monday, March 21, 2011

Recipes from Madeleine

Recipes from Madeleine
Many have written to me expressing their sadness at Madeleine's departure from this world and support for me and the family during these difficult times. The family and myself are extremely appreciative of this. Support that poured in from everywhere well and truly helped in coping with her death.

As reported previously, the compilation of the great majority of the recipes for 'Recipes from Mauritius" involved intensive discussions between Madeleine and myself about the cooking techniques and the intent of the original recipes. I learned a lot from Madeleine from these discussions. I also have a collection of draft recipes that are yet to be published. Her approach to Mauritian cuisine was directed at retaining this unique Mauritian taste and aroma that can only come from true Mauritian cuisine. She literally disliked the modern approach whereby shortcuts are introduced mostly for commercial expediency. "True Mauritian cuisine comes from the heart" she said.
The Recipes from Mauritius website recently underwent a major update and that resulted in visits increasing by 1500 daily. These days, the Mauritius Australia Connection portal web site, incorporating the Recipes from mauritius web site, receives in excess of 5000 visits daily. That is, 1.8 millions visitors annually.
I am currently have on my project list the following tasks:
1. Writing a book titled "Living and Coping with Cancer-I will always love you" on Madeleine's battle with breast, ovarian, secondary breast and metastatic ovarian cancers, including its impact on Madeleine and sharing our experience with others facing a similar predicament.
2. Upgrading the Mauritius Australia Connection web site into a format similar to the Recipes from Mauritius format.
3. Writing a book on Mauritian Cuisine transmitting Madeleine's legacy on Mauritian Cuisine.
4. Establishing a web site entitled "Les Bonnes Manieres" reflecting Madeleine's advice on good manners that she dearly passed on to her family, especially the grand children. Something that is clearly missing in this modern day of TV dinners.
On a personal note, it has extremely hard coping with her departure. However, she still lives on in our heart. The above projects hopefully will assist in accepting her departure from this world. We all miss her wonderful presence. As per this famous Malagasy saying: The departed ones never die if we keep them alive in our thoughts."

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

May I Tell You About Madeleine?

May I Tell You About Madeleine?
The shock is easing off but the pain is still there with the highs and lows. I alternate between acceptance and downright grief asking myself: “Why her and why me?” One minute I am all cheery and the next minute, tears are streaming uncontrollably when I flashback to the happy times we had together. In church last Sunday, tears were streaming down my cheeks at the thought of her not being around anymore. Grief drives you to feel like you are lifeless with no incentive to do or start doing anything. However, when I think of Madeleine, she would not want me to let go and be miserable. So I recompose myself and get going again. She was not one to let go and I remember the good times we had together and her support for all things that I wanted to achieve.

We had more than a great marriage. Some people called it “Love story”. Many referred to us as the perfect couple. The two individuals merged into one entity. She knew me perfectly and I knew her perfectly. We daily exchanged our thoughts on things that took place during the day. No important decision was ever made without an exchange of opinion on our personal views. After 34 years of marriage, we were still in love like 17 years old teenagers. She loved me unconditionally and I loved her unconditionally.

We were best friends and thrived on one another’s company; we kept in touch with each other at all times. I remember when on one of the rare occasions that she travelled overseas without me, the phone bill was greater than a return air fare to where she was. That did not matter as we had to know what each other was doing at all times.

When anyone asks me about Madeleine, I always tell them that she was special and the perfect partner. Her mission in life was to make sure that I was never wanting for anything and that the family was OK. In return, I made sure that she was not wanting for anything and that no harm came to her. On top of it all, she was classy without being obnoxious. A kind of subtle classiness that made sure that good manners, good dress sense, respect for others and considerate behaviour prevailed. She was forthright in her views and left you in no doubt as to what her thoughts were.

Every morning, I would leave home for work and kiss her good bye. She would make sure that I was dressed properly and would remind me to be careful on the road both to and from work. Every evening, she would welcome me with a welcome kiss and tell me about her day. One of her most important tasks was to feed me well and make sure that I had the best meals that could ever be cooked.

When I asked her last Christmas and for her birthday “What she would like ?” she responded by saying “ I have everything and there is really nothing that I particularly want.” I gave her the same answer on similar occasions. We generally agreed to something that would be of common interest or something that that one of us would really want to have. That’s how we bought an iPad in December last and that was her last present to me. Of course, we both prayed for her health to come back.

Losing Madeleine was what I feared most in life, but I didn’t see it coming despite her long term battle with breast, ovarian, secondary breast cancer and metastatic ovarian cancer. She would win one battle after another and despite her worsening condition during her last two months, I was used to her battling her way through. It hurt real bad when she was in hospital with only days to live. She said to me: “Please help me” and there was nothing I could do. So far, I had been able to fix things for her every time all the time. Cancer had me beaten this time.

We all know something about grief and loss. When someone is diagnosed with cancer, we go through a grieving process: the death of our former selves, followed by finding our new normal. That's what Madeleine and myself did, although this time I’m grieving her death and the end of my life with her, and finding my new normal without her. Grieving the loss of Madeleine has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Every now and then, I cry uncontrollably and begged God to help me through this pain. Missing Madeleine and not being able to do anything about it, except linger in this achingly slow passage of time is agonizing. With the support of the loved ones, I realize that while it doesn’t seem like it, I am beginning to slowly move forward. I am moving though some of this pain and grief. Half of me is gone with her but half of her has stayed with me.

I take comfort that Madeleine was respected and loved by all. Messages of condolence poured from all over the world and the church overflowed with loved ones, family, friends and work colleagues during her funeral service. “Caring, sincere and loving” were some of the words I heard over and over to describe her; she did things because they were the right things to do, and so many people told me how much they loved her. She was a person who put God, loved ones, family, friends and doing the right thing above all else.

Madeleine (or Loune as I called her), I will always love you, need you, want you, miss you and marvel at you. I know you are with God. Please call and let me know you got there alright.

Clancy Philippe