Paulette Therése Villáin Grissett was born January 16, 1936, in Paris, France, and died October 16, 2023, in San Antonio, Texas. She was the only child of Alice Vidal and Paul Villáin.
Our mother was French and fashionable and beautiful... she was also haughty, volatile, and hard to please. She was never one to wrap you in a warm hug and offer soothing words, and if consoled herself she rarely showed gratitude. Her rules had to be followed and there were immediate consequences when they weren't. But she taught all of us to read well before our formal schooling began. She painted pictures for the walls of our childhood rooms. She made fresh, healthy, organic meals; beautifully decorated birthday cakes; and created amazing picnic spreads for family outings. She sewed most of our clothes. She was well-read and intelligent; multilingual and impatient. She was fiercely proud of being a naturalized American citizen, and unforgiving of people who heard her pronounced accent and asked where she was from. Although her wine she preferred French, dry, and acidic, a mirror of her natural self. The mind contains multitudes.
She experienced WWII firsthand as a small child, living in the city of Paris when it was bombed and occupied. She adored her father and lost him too young. After studying art history at the Sorbonne, she met a young Air Force cadet stationed outside of Paris on a blind date, and though he spoke no French our dad was enchanted. They eloped in Casablanca, Morocco, and began a marriage that would span 62 years until our father's death in 2021.
She bore five children, losing one to leukemia at a tender age. As a young mother, she was an only child with no family support, raising children in a land foreign to her and with a husband often on military deployment. For some, such adversity is a catalyst for resilience and connection - for others, it is bewildering and isolating.
As Mémé, she loved her grandchildren. She was no more patient with them than with her own children, but did not miss a birthday or celebration. She praised their accomplishments, and noticed what she perceived as faults. She did not love any of us perfectly. But she loved us the best she could. And we loved her back, the best we could.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her son Craig Anthony Grissett, and her husband Marvin Wendell Grissett. She is survived by her children: Deborah (Dennis) Bass, Brenda (Dave) Mallery, Beverly (Bill) Lowry, Derek Grissett (Scott Matthey); and her grandchildren, Courtney Gonzalez, Kendall Gonzalez, Creed Lowry, Case Lowry, and Kemper Lowry.
"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents." HP Lovecraft