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past future

from Asia in Switzerland
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post #2
bio: asia

first post
that week

Great Aunt Mary
One day my 93 year old Great Aunt Mary and her good friend Ingrid were walking through a mall in Greater Victoria, Ingrid had a massive coronary and died. As Ingrid fell, she knocked into Mary's walker and she also fell and broke her hip. She lay helpless and in pain under the body of her dead friend for half an hour before anyone noticed what had happened.

Mary is a tough old bird and is now (after a brief wallow in questioning fate and the order of the universe) up and again frequenting every matinee and garden party she can find. She is also the terror of her Bridge Club.

Mary is the second youngest of five sisters, my Nana being the youngest. She is the only one to not have children and she subsequently adopted us... my Nana not being the most loving woman in the world, we happily accepted this arrangement. She met her husband, Max, in a logging camp in Jasper on the Alberta border. She was driving a logging truck and he worked the rails. He was also one of the most obnoxious people I've ever met. When he got served last for tea he would, without fail, shout out, "what am I the Nigger or something?" It was the first time I ever heard the word and my Mother spent most of the following day explaining why it was BAD and why I should never repeat it. This was before the word had been (mostly) stripped of its power by being rapped over every media a million times per day. The family legend is that Max never let her have children because then his status as her only child might slip. I suspect this might be true.

My mother thinks Mary is a lesbian, or at least would have been if the times had allowed.

I think if she ever suggested it, Mary would have been the one dying of a coronary. I also think Mom might be right... and I still have no idea how she ended up driving a truck in Jasper.

My mother likes to find interesting and slightly scandalous explanations for things - especially if it concerns a woman staying with the wrong kind of man. In her mind an oppressive society is to blame for most of woman kind's mistakes. Her mother (my grandmother) ran away with her husband's (my grandfather's) father's female secretary when Mom was seventeen. That might be where it started. She likes to lecture me on how ungrateful my generation is for all that her generation did for us. I like to tell her that they did it so we wouldn't have to be grateful for what we have seeing as we never knew it any other way. But that‘s mostly just to irritate her.

She was a real hippy back when it meant something. She hitchhiked from New Jersey to San Francisco in 1969 to demonstrate, and did really trippy embroidery and weaving in her spare time. She was at Altamont which is, I admit, one of the more dubious 60's landmark events. But its always been preferable to me. Everybody's parents were at Woodstock.

She got bored at some point and took a ride off a board to Vancouver. She said there were two, one going to Arizona and one up to Canada. She went home and dreamed about water so she decided to go to Canada. Thirty-one years later she still lives there and doesn't seem to have any plans to go back. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I'm 28 years old now. I live in Switzerland, in Bern, with my boyfriend who is the only reason that I live in Switzerland. A couple days ago I was walking down the street and a tiny old woman was walking about ten meters ahead. She was distracted by a flower stall and her foot got caught on a hidden water hose. She tripped and fell face first onto the sidewalk but her momentum was such that she slid about two feet further, head first into a sandwich board. The first person to reach her was an Arabic man. He tried to help her up but she wouldn't let him touch her, "get away filthy Arab!" She started shaking and wept hysterically. A group of people gathered around most of them a little afraid to try to help her. Finally a woman knelt down and tried to lift her up. The woman slowly raised her face. A mess of blood and tears and make-up. Her eyes had the look of deep mortification only found in someone with too much pride to begin with. This is a common Swiss failing. It made me think of my Great Aunt and her racist husband and I suddenly felt more sympathy for the Arabic man who was just trying to help.

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