The best parts of the short Montreal getaway were the dinner, tucked-in-bed and morning pre-work conversations with Paula. I laughed too hard all the way from Ottawa to Montreal and back.
She shared a lot with me about family life, and the deepening bonds she has with her 3 girls (Sy, Kh and Sa), aged 15 to 21 years. It’s funny because some of it does sound like what you’d see on a North American sitcom :p But there are heartwarming anecdotes (and undoubtedly milestones from Paula’s perspective) that reflect the maturity that children growing up in difficult circumstances often emerge with. I have not met her girls, but I feel like I ‘know’ them. I would hear her on the phone with them; although they spoke in French, I could tell that she was recounting her day and also telling them about me. Not 2 sentences would pass before she would break out in laughter, with similar crackling from the other end of the line.
“Sometimes my mum says it’s better to have girls, coz daughters take care of you more than sons will…”
“Oui, it’s true, we say that too!”
“Lucky you then, you have three :)”
“Oh, but you can’t imagine the number of shoes we have at home…”
(While telling me stories of older people who don’t dress their age) “Yeah, so this woman is with her grandchild and wearing hot pants and high heels… I mean, why would you want to wear stuff that lets me see nothing except what has gone wrong?!… I would want to be able to clearly tell who’s the grandchild and who’s the grandmother!”
(About her recent move to a new house) “So we get in and it’s this open concept home… and I find out that I don’t have enough walls for my art. Even after I’ve placed some in the basement. And no, the girls have imposed a ban – no big art pieces in their rooms…”
“Ceiling, Paula, think ceiling…”
“Excesses! It’s a good lesson God teaches through a move like this. A box I haven’t opened in 8 years, I’m thinking of opening now. She asks me – why bother? Why bother to find out? You haven’t needed it, and you never will.”