If you've ever fallen in love with a place while on vacation and wondered what it would be like to live there for more than a usual vacation's worth of time, you're my reader. Step right into a vicarious travel experience as Larry Lawyer and I try to make ourselves at home in Provence. Stay with us -- we've got a virtual guest room -- as we spend a month in each of four consecutive years in the pretty, medieval town of L'Isle sur la Sorgue - pronounced 'Leel sur la Sorg' - in the heart of Provence." Don't worry if you can't speak or understand French. Hang out with us for a while and you'll speak it as badly as we do.

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Oct 26, 2012

By the time Peter died at the age of 15 and ½ he was sexually mature. I remember the morning I turned town his bed sheets and noticed sperm on his upper thighs and in his scant pubic hair. This is not an experience that mothers and their adolescent sons should be sharing, but, to choose less outrageous examples, I shouldn’t be brushing his teeth or shaving his cheeks either.

      “What is that?” Peter asked me as I sponged him off with a warm, soapy washcloth.

      “That’s sperm. It means you had a wet dream,” I answered.

      I went on to explain, keeping my voice as level as possible, that lots of sexually mature boys and men have dreams about making love to women. Pete knew about sex. He was no innocent, and besides he had an older brother.

“And when they have these dreams, I went on, they often ejaculate sperm.

      “Well that’s not fair,” Pete said. “I just had the wet. I didn’t have the dream.” Somehow, as was often the case in our whacky family, Peter helped us to find something to laugh about. But inside I was crying.

      My husband Larry and I had spoken reluctantly about Peter’s sexuality. We projected our thoughts into the future; when he was 18, or 20, or 25 what would we do? We thought about hiring a sexual surrogate. It seemed too cold-blooded, too weird. How would we introduce her into his life? In my naïveté I imagined we would try to find someone his age who would start out pretending to be a girl friend. After a few dates, she would introduce sex into the relationship.

      We never had to face that eventuality. Peter died before most physically well young men have sex. He was never deprived of that particular one of life’s great pleasures.

      And now, over 30 years later, comes a movie called “The Sessions.” The relationship between the therapist and her physically disabled, but sexually able client is not the dishonest, pretend love story I had imagined. It is a contract between two consenting adults – kind, honest, gentle, sensitive, loving and mutually rewarding.

      If Peter were alive today, I hope he would seek such a relationship.