The four of us sat down to lovely souris d'agneau and confit de canard, generally chowing down on some pretty fine food. We were at the Café Crème on rue de Birague - a favourite of mine for ages now, most visitors end up there with me at some point.
The dinner went smoothly enough until we started to talk about dead people that we knew. Well, they started to talk about dead people that we knew. I was happy talking about how handsome the waiter was, to be frank.
At the change in conversation, my cousin scuttled off for a crafty fag. I wished that I smoked.
My Mother produced a whole series of things from her handbag and started to get all teary-eyed. "Now these things," she started, "these things all need to be buried with me. They're always in my handbag and they need to be buried with me." At which point she started to cry.
She handed me the last photograph she'd had taken with my father. The last note he'd ever left her. The last card he'd ever bought her. Apparently these things are always with her.
Not wanting to be outdone, my Aunt chimed in with "well, I want to be buried with my cross". And she proceeded to produce a cross from her handbag that she also carries everywhere with her.
Now, I know what you are thinking. You're thinking that this is a small cross, that hangs on a necklace. Maybe gold or silver? Maybe decorated with a stone or two?
This is a wooden cross.
It is a good five inches high with a pointed end.
It looks like something you'd use if you were a Victorian gent who'd been sent to Transylvania to save your sweetheart from the clutches of an evil Count.
I waited for her to produce a vial of holy water and a clove of garlic. She didn't.
"Where did you get that from?" me and my Mom both blurted out at the same time.
"From off Grandma's grave," she said. Apparently, it had been the grave marker before the stone was in place.
I leaned back in my chair and looked at these two women. I marvelled at the fact that we are living on the same planet, let alone that we are from the same family.
My cousin came back inside from the terrace.
"Did I miss anything?"
Please. Someone. Send in the troops and get me out of here.