Valerie and Amaury 2005

Amaury and Valerie, Spring 2005.

Amaury, Valerie, Kathryn

Amaury and Valerie with Kathryn in the streets of Philadelphia, Fall 2004.

Amaury and Motorcycle

Amaury has always been a motorcycle enthusiast. Valerie has moved from riding pillion to managing her own beast on lengthy tours.

Valerie with Kathryn and Margaux

Valerie with Kathryn and Margaux 2009.

Conde Family on LIONESSE

From left to right: Husband Amaury, sons Arsene and Aymeric, Kathryn, Valerie, Jim on the aft deck of LIONESSE in Isla Mujeres, Mexico – March, 2005.

Amaury and Valerie Wedding

Wedding Day on the steps of the Chapel at Les Invalides. Young participant Mitchel in yellow pants.

For days, I couldn't stifle bursts of laughter when thinking of the news that Mother was expecting another child. This is during the winter of 1963, and it must have been the surprise that made it so funny to me, as we were then headed for my 24th birthday, Mother’s 47th and Father’s 58th! A "do-it-yourself grandchild" is the phrase that popped into my mind. This new baby was also going to be 16 years younger than my sister Caroline.

While we were raised in the same household, Valerie and I have never lived under same roof, due to the wide age difference. I had left the nest long before she put on her appearance. We have quite different childhood experiences and grew up in different eras and circumstances. To this we owe our escape from any sibling rivalry, but also missed out on the easy camaraderie from daily sharing of the family environment. It is only during her adult years that we have grown the mutual respect and affection that I treasure today.

Valerie and her husband Amaury, an executive in the business information field, have made a success of their family life. When seen together, their behavior and body language speaks to their devotion to each other, and they enjoy experiencing new adventures as a couple – motorcycle rides and shared business trips to exotic cities (New Delhi, Istambul, and Johannesburg come to mind). All three of her children have grown into responsible adults with serious careers before them (marketing, finance, and engineering, quite a spread!)

She is rational. She is steadfast. She is sensible. With a sunny, even temperament, Valerie has been a real comfort to me when she has acted as a buffer in dealing with the hostility suffered during years of estrangement with my other sister, Caroline, and my mother.

Valerie and Margaux

Valerie and Daughter Margaux enjoying a shared summer vacation in Corsica.