Our mother had a last-minute, everything-is-an-emergency call for lots of things we had to do. On that lovely, breezy summer day when everything should have been perfect for a Popsicle, dolls and drawing pencils in the shade far away from chores; she had one of those “Oh my! I forgot! Why doesn’t HE (she meant Grandfather) phone before he leaves for the cottage!”
Too late to clear off!
“ Christine! The cat!” my mother exclaimed.
“ Oh”, I thought. “ If it’s the cat, it’s ok”. I love all cats. Couldn’t be too hard.
“Christine! You have to go to grandma’s apartment! The back door is unlocked and the cat was supposed to have been fed two days ago! I forgot! Go in to the larder and get the cat something to eat!” She put her hand on her forehead. “And milk!”
I thought, in that heat there would have been no milk as there was no ice in the ice box as nobody was home. The larder would have been empty of everything except dried peas in a glass jar.
Mother was an intelligent woman but she never did think well. She didn’t think of those things. Well, I had, but then I was a kid and had been well taught never to question adult intelligence or adult law.
I was told the door would be unlocked at the back, to go in and feed the cat. Off I went, with one junior sister – I was always stuck with one of them trailing after me.
I got there, and went up the stairs, the sun beating down, all hopes of shady hideaways shot, not a Popsicle in the future. Irritated at my mother, thinking of cleaning the poopy messes that waited for me inside.
The screen door opened but not the kitchen door. Cross and worried about the cat and with no adult to boss me, I went downstairs, got a rock, went back upstairs and broke the lowest pane and opened the blasted door.
No cat. I rattled the latch, which was like the dinner gong for the cat.
An enraged neighbour from downstairs erupted, shouting: “I’m going to call the police! Who are YOU?”
Explanations, tears and much adult indignation later, back home, my mother is screaming:
“YOUR FATHER IS GOING TO HAVE TO PAY FOR THAT BROKEN WINDOW! GRANDPA IS GOING TO BE MAD AT YOU! WHY CAN’T YOU THINK ?? DADDY HAS NO MONEY TO PAY FOR WINDOWS!!”
I was crying and thinking: “I tried to do what you wanted!” Then, I realized I needed a reward for good intentions. I said to myself: “I am going back to grandma’s, will steal a milk bottle, trade it in and reward myself with a damned Popsicle.” Later, boldly up the back stairs: after supper, the awful neighbour was on her front porch, and I got my reward. No one wiser – junior sister in bed, so no sharing. A perfect day saved.
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Later, after a sketchy go through high school, she worked my way through University (Concordia in Montreal) working 3 or 4 jobs.Illness put a stop to my hopes for a few years.In the meantime, love replaced ambitions, and softened the culture shock of moving into the country from a big city. Paintingis my current passion and writing is a renewed interest.
She says, "My other name: Christine Lenoir-Godin is how I sign all my paintings, to remember my Mother who taught me a lot about art."