Autumn 1958 (Age 83)

Randolph and Arabella visited the Riviera to help celebrate their parents’ golden wedding anniversary. All of the children gave their parents a rose garden at Chartwell, and an illuminated book showing the design of the garden with individual pictures of roses by Britain’s leading flower painters. A blank page was left for Sir Winston to add his own picture, but he never did. His last painting, “Oranges and Lemons,” had earlier been completed. Advancing age had ended his hobby.

France showed its appreciation for Sir Winston’s wartime efforts. Author Jean Cocteau presented him with the Medaille de la Courtoisie Francaise and Charles de Gaulle presented him with the Croix de la Liberation. On the latter occasion Churchill reminded his audience that contemporary problems were in some ways greater than wartime: “It is harder to summon, even among friends and allies, a vital unity of purpose amidst the perplexities of a world situation which is neither peace nor war.” He reviewed the troops—very slowly—and reminisced about both wars during lunch. Although he spoke with some animation to his guests his French was improvised, his speech was slow and his thoughts wandered. De Gaulle commented to the organizer of the ceremony, “How sad!”

Sir Winston had met Greta Garbo that summer and had been enthralled. He had seen all her films and frequently invited her to dine. One evening he asked her not to hide from the world and to return to the screen. For a time they talked of a comeback in a French film but, like her host, her days on the world stage were over.

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