Friday staff pick: Louise

Friday staff pick: Louise

Friday staff pick: Louise

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.

Louise, Anita Lebeau, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

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  1. Hi, This comment on St. Anthony really brings Louise back to me in a special way. As a youngster I remember being asked with a sibling to search a potato bin for my Mom’s (Louise) tiny earring. The potatoes had sprouted so what were the chances! She said she would invoke St. Anthony as we searched. We did find the earring. Once after I was married I lost special earrings and called her-they lived about 25 miles away. She said she would pray while I searched and I did find the earrings. A few years after she was deceased my husband told me he had lost a piece off his mower and wouldn’t likely be able to replace it. I didn’t feel confident in praying myself but called on Mom “up there” to pray while I looked. Hubby was amazed when I showed up with the piece. Wish I could have a little figurine like yours Carolyne especially if it had come from Mom!

    — celine lebeau,
  2. Hi Anita,
    Thanks so much for your comment. My visit with Mimi was stellar. We ate Queen Elizabeth cake she made, watched the hockey game (Montreal Canadians won 8-1) and just as I was leaving she brought me into her room and handed me a pocket-sized St-Anthony figurine. “Keep this one preciously,” she said. “It’s my best one.” I believe her. It glows in the dark.

    — Carolyne Weldon,
  3. Louise also swore by St Anthony, and if I remember right, credited him for locating a granddaughter’s hearing aid in the middle of a wheat field.

    Hope you had a nice visit with your Mimi.

    — Anita Lebeau,