Scribbled notes, at best. Bouts of dazed rest. Dazed with an overall sense of pleasant. Standing at a window, for example, a few minutes early for an appointment. Taking in the light, the way plants do – although I doubt plants then start thinking about a relative they never knew.
Standing at the window in the Community Center, I thought of my paternal grandfather. All I know of him are a few snippets of family legend: the first French-Canadian to become a heart surgeon. Studied at the Sorbonne. His mother had a thing for the letter A; her seven children had names beginning with it. My grandfather’s lot in the name lottery? Adhemar. He died of pulmonary edema, a condition described to me when I was a child as a slow drowning in the liquid accumulating in the lungs. An impressive description, especially when made to an imaginative child. I recall a few long bouts of reflection on my unknown grandfather lying in the upstairs bedroom while my grandmother entertained the lodger who became her second husband. This, also a bit of family lore. The second husband sold organs (no, not kidneys or livers, church organs) and drank strong-smelling mixtures out of bottles hidden in unlikely places. Visits to this grandmother sometimes involved variations on the Easter egg hunt called Find the Bottles.
Long gone, these people. Long gone, Nelly whom we called Nen, who cooked and cleaned, and scolded the blind cocker spaniel called Snap (which he tended to do), and let me feed bits of lettuce to her turtles.
No appointments for two full days. All public buildings are closed on Monday. The Romanian doctor will pick me up and we’ll do his two-hour French conversation lesson at the medical clinic. He must pass his French oral exam on May fifth, in front of twelve medical doctors. Yesterday, we role-played. Sometimes he put the questions, and I answered. Sometimes, the other way round.
House-cleaning. Paying attention to the voices in my head. Picking up the story. This morning: Something like stepping back to take in a painting in progress before taking on the next part. Children’s voices? Perhaps, but maybe they are only echoes of all those I heard yesterday.