I was heart-broken earlier this week when I learned of the passing of my dear friend and mentor, Alisa Bearov Landrum.
Alisa hadn’t been well for many months. But that did nothing to reduce my shock and immediate grief when I picked up the sad message from her husband Charles.
A devoted wife, mother and grandmother, Alisa was also an incredible friend. This is evidenced by the outpouring of memories her friends have been sharing on social media over the past few days.
Like me, Alisa loved France – and especially Paris – from an early age. Alisa spent time in Paris as an Au Pair in the 1970’s, as part of her first degree in French.
Alisa was an extremely intelligent, curious woman. She built her career around law and teaching. Alisa also spent time in senior roles within department stores. Alisa shared that it was this time in her life that fostered her love of fashion. And it’s safe to say that Alisa was a supremely stylish woman.
Alisa was a fluent French speaker who also taught the French language for many years. She was instrumental in improving my own French. That said, I’m convinced my slow progress provided her with no end of frustration.
Alisa and I got to know each other through Distant Francophile. Alisa was a regular commenter on DF in the very early days. She’d provide different perspectives or insights on the subjects I wrote about. We started corresponding outside of DF when Alisa started her initial battle with cancer. Eventually we reached a point where we were catching up via Skype regularly. Sometimes we’d use the time for me to practice my French. Other times, we’d simply chat.
Despite the fact that we were on opposite sides of the Earth and from different generations, Alisa became a close friend. I can’t express how much I’m going to miss her sage advice and never-ending encouragement.
If you want to get a feel for how Alisa approached life you might like to read her comments on some of my blog posts. I loved the creativity that came with her comment on How To Wear French Girl Dresses. And her comment on New Ideas – Gifts For Francophiles gives you an idea of the care Alisa took with the details. Alisa was also my very first guest on The Franco-Files. If you’d like to learn more about a truly remarkable woman, I encourage you to listen in to episode one.
Scotty and I were lucky enough to spend some time with Alisa when we in Paris last year, just before her illness started to do its worst. It was a joy to share a meal with her in her delightful Parisian apartment. She’d had so much fun decorating the inviting space.
And I’ll remember forever the time she and I spent in the Musée d’Orsay. We explored the Degas à l’Opéra exhibition and chose French themed books for her beloved grandchildren. Scotty took the photo above on that same night, as the three of us headed toward the Tuileries Métro.
Thank you Alisa for enriching my life in so many ways. I’m so grateful to have had you in my life. I’ll miss you.
Our deepest sympathy goes out to Alisa’s husband Charles and her beautiful family. We know their hearts will be heavy right now.
Until next time – au revoir.