Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day One Hundred and Thirty Nine: Mom's Footsteps

"This is your Ma ma," she says, "and I'm in Fort Qu'Appelle. Lanelle was sick, and Ian called, and here we are."

"That's cool," I say, as I continue typing on a proposal I'm writing, sitting on the bouncy ball in my office.

"So, I thought I might walk with you in the morning."

I stop typing. "Sure. That would be great."

"I'm pretty good these days. I can walk 45 minutes on the tread mill." Mom has had two knee operations within the last couple, maybe three or four years.

"We could leave at seven, and I don't walk all that fast, anyway," I say.

Mom and I are walking down the lane by seven-thirty. Dad has dropped her off. It's a misty morning, with some frost. Mom tells me about an interesting guy she met from South Africa who was subbing with her in a school. He's here in Canada with his Doctor wife, but back in South Africa he taught in an all-black school, even visiting a student in jail and all three levels of security checks were sure he was in the wrong place, what's this white guy doing here? Says he loves Canada.

And then the geese interrupt. First just their honking distracts us. Soon they're flying overhead, making the morning all about them. At first, Mom and I wonder if they're swans they're so white. But then we decide, in our collective wisdom, that they must be geese. Mom tells about the last flock she saw swarming above a field, a cloud of geese, followed by a storm front of geese. She and dad pulled over to watch.

Mom is ahead on the road quite a few times, as I stop to take pictures. I'm playing catch up almost half the walk. No need to be polite and visit, this is my mom afterall. I detour into the field, catch some geese swarming beyond the trees.

I catch up before we do a little off-roading, prairie walking, ditch crawling. Mom holds my arm for a minute, then says, "I'm doing pretty good. This isn't so bad."

We are at the rail tracks. "Woe. Wait up there. I want a picture," I say.

Mom puts one foot on the rail, arms out for balance, and then she actually walks a step or two. I see that little girl she still is: spunky, cheeky, athletic.

"I think you've done this a time or two before," I say.

We're down into the ditch and then up onto the edge of the Highway, and Mom starts to go across. "Wait," I say, "There's a semi coming."

"Well, that's a long way off," she says. "We're moving a lot faster than it is." She steps onto the Highway.

I reevaluate, and she's right. I follow behind. Just like I've been walking in her footsteps all my life, and these treaty walks are no different. Teaching upgrading in Regina, her students shared their stories. She saw the devastation of residential school and colonialism in the few years she practiced Social Work. She had friends, Sunias and Wuttnee. She and Dad took me to powwows when I was little and we met Chief Dan George. We sang along with Buffy Sainte Marie "now that the buffalo are gone" and Winston Wuttnee "as I walk out on this land of my own."

 We order coffee and egg sandwiches at Robin's Donuts. No big deal. Just another day being Mary's daughter.

Here I am, home, after a full-day teaching and then hosting the dessert room at dinner theatre. It's late, late, and I've been working on that proposal some more. But the last thing I'm doing is thinking about Mom, and the way we tease her about having tiny feet. But tonight as I consider her footsteps, there's nothing small about them.


  1. AWWW! So sweet. I was telling Char that aunt Mary was always dad's favorite cousin- ohoh, hope none of his other cousins are reading this!! ;)

  2. I'm not anonymous but couldn't figure out how to publish any other
    Love the days walk, a real treat to read and I imagined I was right there walking with you both....Thanks Sheena.....I have a story or two I could tell about residential schools when I was counselling at the jail....
    Some of my favorite times in Momma Mary's French Class was singing Dominique-nique-nique!!! Freudenly, (Is that a word?) I started humming it in my head while reading your NAILED BLOG :)Sherry

  3. I love Mary. She reminds me of all the good in all the women over the years that I have called Kokum, Auntie & Mom. She makes my soul smile. Your Mama is a precious gift. <3