I met my husband, Claude, while I was on vacation on a small Caribbean island. He was the chef at the 10-room resort where I stayed. It was pretty much love at first sight for us. We were engaged 2 months after we met and married 5 months after that. We welcomed our first child (a girl) the next year. We also moved to the Caribbean where Claude was the Executive Chef at another resort. Before you think that living on an island in the Caribbean is fun, I can assure you that going to the beach every day gets boring after a while. And lets not forget the hurricanes! After nearly 4 years we moved back to the U.S. We had our second child (a boy). In many ways I believed that our relationship was much like a fairy tale. I did not realize how accurate my belief was. Most fairy tales, before being made more palatable, had tragic endings. Read the original Brothers Grimm to check that out! I lost my handsome prince, not to a dragon or ogre, but to something much scarier - cancer. Throughout his illness my husband was brave, stoic, and optimistic. As long as Claude had a breath in his body he fought. He handled his illness with unparalleled grace and strength. He died in my arms on Valentine’s Day 2004. I miss him every minute of every day. And I am sad that my kids are without him. Claude and I would have celebrated our 13th Anniversary last month. I’m not going to tell long stories about him, but rather will share what he was doing towards the end of his life and for a time while he was ill.
Claude was born and raised in France. He studied to become and became a chef in Paris. And, wow, could he cook! After we returned to the US, he worked in a restaurant not far from the house. But he wanted to build his own business again and he turned to making chocolates. He also started to paint for enjoyment. Without overstating, he was an artist with both paints and chocolates. See for yourself.
Just a couple of his many, many paintings:
A Painting of the Riviera:
A New England Lighthouse
And here are some of his wonderful chocolates. We had 19 different assorted chocolates and 6 types of truffles. We shipped in North America only and sold at some speciality stores. We used no artificial ingredients or preservatives and everything was handmade.
For Valentine's Day a White Chocolate Box filled with chocolates and surrounded by Coeur de Passion (heart shaped dark chocolate filled with a passion fruit filling) and Noix de Muscade (a type of truffle):
And a close up of the Heart Box (edible):
A four-tiered box for Christmas:
And this is what you saw when the box was opened:
A 1 lb box of Christmas chocolates:
Claude was a remarkable man. He was talented, intelligent, funny, and most of all he loved me with all of his heart. I hope that wherever he is, he's at peace.