24 January 2009


On Wednesday, my grandmother - or as we call here "memere" (can someone tell me how to put an accent grave on the "e" using my Mac????) - turned 97 years old. Wow. Saying the number 97 is perhaps less meaningful than saying that she was born in 1912. Are you kidding me? That is before the First World War I!

My memere moved to Cornwall, Ontario when she was but a child, at age 10 (exact age to be verified!) from Quebec. She did not speak a word of English. When her parents sent her to school, at an english only school, she didn't understand anything her fellow students or the teacher was saying. As such, her formal education lasted but a couple of days. She returned home, where she helped out around the house and eventually got a job at the local textile mill. As her education was so brief, she never learned to read or write. Much like Jacques Demers, her success in life has come despite the massive obstacle of her illiteracy. She married young and went on to have 12 children - all of whom are still alive and well. I lose track of the number of grandchildren, but it is over 50, similarly for great grandchildren and even a handful of double grandchildren. Wow, truly a matriarch if the word ever had any meaning.

Of course at 97, she has to keep pushing for 100. That is sort of like working for the government and retiring with 29 years of pension time - why not stick around for the full deal!

On her date of birth, the following were all true:

  • Man had just reached the South Pole a month before (see blog on Amundsen)
  • New Mexico had just become the 47th state
  • The republic of China had just been established, three weeks prior
  • The Titanic had yet to sink and was preparing for its maiden journey
  • The marines still had not invaded Cuba!
  • William Howard Taft - he of the famous White House bathtub - was US President
  • Fenway Park had yet to open
  • The Chateau Laurier was to open later in the year
  • The following had yet to be invented: crossword puzzles, the bra, the zipper, fortune cookies, band-aids, television, robots, bubble gum, parking meters, canned beer, and thousands of other modern inventions.

To a woman who has literally lived through the most dynamic century in human history, I say Happy Birthday!


Anonymous said...

great blog post rich. your grandmother must have some fascinating stories to tell!

p.s. check this site out for french accents on a mac.


Anonymous said...

Awesome tribute to your grandmother

Unknown said...

A woman of that vast experience and history needs her own blog! You could take dictation and post it for her. How cool would that be!

Josh said...


álsó í dónt knów hów tó typé àn ë wîth ãn áccént övër ît ön thè màc.

(The page Amanda points to lays it out pretty well... the Mac uses a special accent character that comes before the accented vowel... I can never remember them, but it's general Option-(then the key of the letter most likely to have that vowel).

For example ´ is Option-e, since that accent is often over the e.

And ˜is Option-n, as that one is usually over the n.

The exception of course is ` which is Option-`, since that key basically looks like that accent.

Anonymous said...

Cool post! Although your grandmother isn't as cool as my grandfather who was born in 1900 and passed away at the age of 102!

Anonymous said...

Great tribute to Mamere. I will have to print it & read it to her. These are the reasons I keep telling Aunt Lucy to get online

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