Death of Anne-Marie, sister of Father Jean-Luc Gouiller


Chipata 17th April 2013
Dear confreres, greetings.
This is just a few words to tell you that one of my sisters, Anne-Marie, died in France yesterday, after some ten years of Alzheimer sickness. She was 72. She suffered a lot at the end. May she rest in peace! Easter time strengthens us.
We are 11 children in my family. She was the fifth one. (I am the third one). She was married to Bernard Fléchon. We pray for her husband, their four children and their families. The long sickness of my sister has strengthened our family links.
Alzheimer is a terrible disease. As the sickness gets worse, the sick person becomes less and less able to express clearly what is in her mind. Then tears and crying come. One feels helpless when in front of it, but we learn to just stay with her and for instance hold hands.
When young, my sister had taken part in and learnt from the animation of sessions and camps for the Rural Movement of the Christian youth. Then she became a teacher in a basic school. For quite a time she had a class of children with learning difficulties. The patience and the calm she had with them was marvellous. During two of my leaves, she called me to meet her students. One feels proud to see that. I happen to meet one of those students later, a girl, who was extremely grateful to have been able to grow out of her difficulties and, in her turn, help others. Anne-Marie had a gift also for making songs at family celebrations, including for my 25th anniversary of missionary life in December 1989. I still go back to that song at times. She came to Zambia in May 1996 with her husband and a brother of mine and his wife.
From the time both my father and mother had died, apart from staying some days in my home village at a brother’s home, I used to have a room at Anne-Marie and Bernard’s place. We felt very attuned to one another, until, in 2003, it could not be anymore.  For instance, my brother in law had to see to it that Anne-Marie would not forget to turn the gas off in the kitchen or would not get lost when walking, …walking…  That year, I moved to another sister, a widow, who makes me feel very much at home also.
The funeral Mass of my sister will be celebrated next Saturday in a parish where there is a great fellowship among the parishioners. The Parish Priest was one of my generation at the diocesan Major Seminary. My sister was much involved in the animation of the liturgy in that parish, including accompanying the singing with her guitar. Until, some days, she started getting lost, a little at first and then more. That was the beginning of the sickness. It was painful for her and for all. Her guitar was brought to the Home where one day she had to go and reside. But it had become useless to her. It’s hard to learn how to die that way. But the Lord had not forgotten her. On the Octave of Easter, the last 7th April, unexpectantly, she had some kind of a quick awareness, and she murmured  several times to those around “merci à tous”  (thank you to all), …an “Adieu” from her. One of her grandchildren, an 11 years old girl, was then getting ready to be baptized the next Sunday, another joy for the family. My sister died two days later.
Now I feel that our sister is again with us. The Communion of Saints is a reality. We can again relate with one another in another way but really, in the Spirit.
Thank you
Jean-Luc Gouiller, M.Afr

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