One of my favourite people in the world is Antoinette Godbout née Leblanc aka Mimi, my 95 year-old Acadian grandma. She lives alone in her big house on the south shore of Montreal, where she cares for dozens of abnormally healthy house plants and makes the best date squares ever. When you go visit, your role is to forget you are less than a third her age and have two strong legs, sit down at the kitchen table and get served tea and many wonderful kinds of baked goodies. You may be able to get up and get yourself a glass of water, but don’t think you’ll get away with cleaning up or anything. My grandma gets vexed if you even start looking at the dishes.
Once in a while, Mimi sends me letters in the mail, to wish me a nice week and tell know she’s been praying for me. (Her go-to guy is St-Anthony of Padua, patron saint of lost things. She has votive candles all over the house for him. They’re thick as thieves.) My grandma’s been praying for me for 29 years and 4 months now, every day since the day I was born. (I dare you find me a more moving statistic.) She is always full of the best advice, which she doles out on the sly, like the mints and brightly wrapped chocolates she passes us when the others aren’t looking. As we sit on the couch at her place, my hand in hers, she recommends me to not wait so long before I start being happy, and tells me that after all she has seen – and she is 95 years old – the best years of her life were when she was young and independent, working as a grade school teacher in a one-room school near Saint-Omer, in Gaspésie. “Work, Carolyne,” she tells me. “It’s a wonderful thing.”
This week’s staff pick, Louise, reminded me of my grandma – a lot. It tells the story of Louise, animator Anita Lebeau’s 96 year-old grandma, who also lives by herself near Bruxelles, Manitoba. It’s hard to say whether I enjoyed the animation more (the images are really lovely) or the narration (courtesy of Louise herself, the accent is gold), but this charming animated short really made me miss my Mimi – terribly – and decide I’m going to visit her this weekend. We’re way due for a little date-square and green tea hang-out session. Actually, I think I’m going to give her a ring right now.