Monday, April 28, 2014


From time to time we would travel to Spirit River and stay with Aunty Adaline. We would bunk in her basement—a roomy place with comfortable furniture and a generous bathroom that was private for guests. But on one occasion we called her to say that we would be camping nearby at Saskatoon Lake. We would visit her for an afternoon. If her objection was only half-hearted, we did not notice. “It can be cold out there,” she said. “The weatherman is predicting cold weather.” “On July 31 we are certain it will be fine,” we said. We had not planned for snow. Saskatoon Lake is named for its bounty. The bushes hung heavy with purple deliciousness. But nobody likes to pick saskatoons while wearing mittens, so we did not pick a bucket for Aunty Adaline as we had planned. Instead, we called to say that we had changed our minds about staying over at her house. We had not been fully aware up to that point that Aunty Adaline’s health was changing. Where once we would have arrived to a warm welcome and the irresistible aroma of cake in the oven, we found her flustered, preoccupied with the combined effort of a search for her lost Life-Line Alert button and the remaking of her bed so that we could sleep under clean sheets. Her basement was messy, she reported, due to a recent flood. Though fully cleaned, it remained disorderly. She would not entertain the idea of our going there. We would share the big bedroom in her room. She would sleep in a single bed elsewhere. When bedtime came, we climbed guiltily between her sheets. The curtain of sleep descended. I was dreaming deeply when the wall spoke her name. “Adaline,” said the wall. I was not particularly surprised. Walls will speak to those who feel guilty. Deeper into the dream went I. “Adaline,” said the wall, more urgently this time. “Adaline, are you all right? Shall I send an ambulance?” Here is my best advice for those considering possible life-mates: Look for someone who will know what to do if the wall begins to speak in the middle of the night! For while I pulled the covers over my head in a hopeful attempt to silence the thing, David informed the wall that we were Adaline’s niece and nephew, spending the night in her bed. “Her Life-Line Button has been pushed,” the wall replied, and David, with characteristic practicality, dug in the space under the mattress until he found the lost button, and removed it from its hiding place so that it would no longer be activated by the process of rolling over in bed. . “Good night,” said the wall. “Good night,” said we. So the wall did not send an ambulance, and David was soon breathing the deep inhalations of a peaceful sleep restored. But I lay awake, wondering how long it might be until the RCMP would pound upon the door, sent to investigate the possibility that two sleepy robbers had somehow disposed of Aunty Adaline/

No comments: