Tuesday, November 07, 2006
My First Second Language
My great-grandmother (we called her Mimi, a French endearment for grandmother) lived with our family for my entire life until she died. She spoke French and broken English, and I spoke to her in broken English as well -- my first second language. I knew that it was very different than what I said to my parents and at school and much louder since she had hearing trouble. Out of all my relatives, she had the most beautiful soul born out of a lot of pain -- all four of her sons had died years before she did -- of accidents, cancer, alcoholism. And unlike everyone else in my family, she had incredible longevity -- she made it until her nineties when everyone else seems to be lucky to hit sixty. A month before her death, she spoke a lot to the air. When my mother asked her who she was talking to, she'd say, I'm talking to my sons. Can't you see them? She never spoke of her dead children, so I felt certain they were in the room.
Mimi served as an incredibly calming presence to the house. She couldn't walk very well and loathed the idea of a wheelchair so she managed to either use a walker (to get to the car) or scoot around the house, using her arms to propel herself forward. She moved fast and got wherever she needed to go. She didn't much like our poodle, the dear Peppi, but she would hold up his little paws during "Ring of Fire" and make him dance whenever Johnny Cash played. We didn't have a very big house so I slept with Mimi every night. When she started talking to her sons, I felt a chill. I wondered what they looked like as I'd never seen a picture. Everyone says French is a beautiful language, but murmured late into the night, it seemed otherwordly, beyond beauty and meaning, like a glimpse of something veiled that you'd see sooner or later.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I'm not a fan of real life." Nick Nolte
Drinking movie suggestion: North Dallas Forty
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Election Day!