I knocked on grandmère’s back door. No response. I walked in. As I announced my arrival, she walked out of her bedroom looking at me with a sheepish grin,
“Quoi?”, I chuckled. “What?”
“Oh… ehhhh…rien,” seeming to beg me to ask what was up. “Ohhhh…nothing.”
“Vraiment?”, I said coyly “Really?”
“Oh, I was just about to throw this away”, pointing the wastebasket with photo in hand.
With her arthritic hand, she slowly gave it over to me.
“Grandmère! C’est-tu toi?” “Is it you?”
“Hi hi hi, oui”, slightly shouldering her head as she looked up at me with an open-mouthed smile. The smile she gleams when she realizes she has been caught telling us something surprising.
A bit like this one.
I couldn’t believe it. In all my life, I never imagined grandmère kicking up her heels for a photo shoot in her maillot!
That’s grandmère: full of surprises and stories!
These days her stories of times past are muddled together with memories of moments just passed. Now this wartime nurse, and resolved Catholic mother of 3 equally tenacious men, needs assistance doing what she always helped others to do: living a life with integrity and dignity.
Grandmère spent the better part of her life fighting for the equal rights of mentally and physically challenged people in our province. Her fight wasn’t in vain. Our community (Clare, Nova Scotia) now has two facilities that care for and support the well-being of such individuals. Grandmère was indeed a force to be reckoned with!
And so now, at 90, she needs similar care and support. She can’t cook for herself, and she spends most of her time napping in her rocking chair. She can’t tell us stories anymore.
But she still has the same smile, and for that, our family is grateful.
On Monday, it’ll be her 90th birthday. I won’t be able to be there, and she may not realize who I am if I call. Instead — in honor of the yarns she used to spin — I wanted to share this with all of you, and maybe through this process, she’ll somehow know that I am thinking of her.