It’s interesting, the things we remember from long ago. Really long, like our childhood. And what triggers those memories. Last week I called my aunt. The last of my mother’s sisters who’s still alive. She’s far from young now and not so well and I guess, when I got off the phone, I was a bit melancholy. Ours had been such a large, and close knit family and there’s not many left.
I didn’t think much about it right after the call, but I guess it must have been weighing on my mind. Because days later, while reading, I suddenly had a flashback. I was really young, maybe three or four, five at the most. I was in a car. My grandfather was driving. My father was in the passenger seat. My aunt, this same aunt, her fiancé (very recent) and I were all sharing the back seat.
Like most little kids I was jabbering away. It was clear this was not my aunt’s idea of heaven. I could tell because she sighed a lot,
loudly. And pouted. And frowned. And flounced around as much as she could, given the limited space we had back there. She obviously wanted some alone time with my uncle; and there she was, stuck with her father, her brother-in-law and me!
Trust me, that was never gonna happen. The alone time. My grandfather was pretty straight-laced.
Loving and kind and fun to be sure, but there was no way he was letting them out of his sight until they were safely married. Which wasn’t happening for a while, unfortunately for my aunt and uncle.
Don’t ask me how I knew all this. I just did. Observant little brat I was.
What I don’t remember is getting into the car, where we drove or what came next.
But just as if I’d been on some kind of a hallucinogenic drug, this single memory, this ‘vision’ sent me down a path of reminiscing that lasted quite a while. I remembered her wedding dress was a very pale ice blue, instead of white. But I don’t remember the wedding. Then I remembered a Friday night dinner at my grandmother’s. By then I was probably six, maybe seven.
We went every Friday night, but this is the only one I remember. The ‘picture’ is so clear, I remember where we were all sitting. My aunt was pregnant with her first. Right after dinner she and my uncle left.
We didn’t know it at the time, but she’d been having labour pains all evening. Never said a word to anyone. And instead of going home, they went to the hospital. Only after it was over did they call to say she’d had a baby boy.
In those days, in Montreal, children couldn’t visit anyone in the hospital. You had to be sixteen. My aunt’s room must have faced the parking lot because I remember driving to the hospital with my parents, my mother going upstairs and leaving me with my father. He and I got out of the car, walked to the end of the lot closest to the hospital and waited. Suddenly my father told me to look up, pointing to a window several stories up. I could barely make out the outline of my aunt, holding my new cousin.
Then I remember going, with my mother, to my aunt and uncle’s apartment to see the baby, once they got home.
That was it. At least as far as my aunt is concerned. But my trip down memory lane was not quite over.
Next thing I was re-living a time when my mother got really pissed off with me. A great uncle of mine (who happened to be just fifteen months older than my mother) was getting married. I was really young, maybe three or four; and I was their flower girl. I LOVED my dress. It was pale, pale pink tulle, with tiny fabric roses scattered here and there in the many layers of the skirt. I always had very sensitive skin and I remember the tulle scratched and itched like crazy. My skin was all red. But I didn’t care because I felt like a fairy princess in it.
Oh, yes, my mother’s wrath. I remember nothing of the wedding itself, other than me, walking hesitatingly down the aisle, carrying a small basket of flower petals, which I scattered on the red carpet. But one rainy day, when I was bored, I found a stash of photographs my mother had. There I was, walking through one of the arches. But the photo was in black and white. When my mother came into the living room to check on me, because it was way too quiet for her liking, I was busy ‘colouring’ the picture. “Don’t do that Fransi”, my mother shrieked, grabbing the pink crayon out of my hands. “You’re ruining the picture!”
“My dress is PINK”, I shouted back.
Well, you argue with that logic.
Funny, isn’t it? I don’t remember the ‘befores’. I don’t remember the ‘afters’. I don’t even remember all the details. But, I’m realizing, as I write this, it doesn’t matter. What does matter, what is wonderful, is that I remember the significant moments. Because they’re all part of the milestones of my life. And I treasure each and every one.
Got any you’d like to share?