This is the third in a short series of posts about my family’s history, living in Canada as landed immigrants in the 1950s and 60s. You can read the second tale here. This particular series discusses my mother’s experiences living and working on a southern Alberta farm as a child.
I wish I could say that my Mum and René left Georges be. But if they had, I wouldn’t have such tragic and funny stories to tell. So we plod on, and discuss some of Georges’ evening habits… and his fears (aside from the twin spawn of my grandparents).
When I last spoke with Mum and René, they told me and my brothers that Georges had a bizarre aversion to gophers. He didn’t dislike them as some people do magpies or mice. He was afraid of them. Evil vicious little things, he thought.
Naturally, the twins wanted to leverage this little-known fact. And since the last story I told you dealt with Georges’ morning routine, I’ll tell you a little bit about his evening routine.
It would seem, through some clandestine reconnaissance, René had discovered Georges’ method of getting into bed. The man liked to climb under the sheets, and jam his feet toward the foot of the bed underneath the covers. René’s mischievous brain conceived of putting a bunch of brushes into the foot of Georges’ bed just underneath the covers. Combine Georges’ foot-shoving behaviour with a fear of gophers, and you have a truly nightmarish way of falling asleep.
René found some brushes and did just that. These would be the gopher stand-ins and would help Georges’ learn the true meaning of terror. But what’s terror without pain? Nothing, according to my uncle. So he found a detached sledgehammer head.
He found it because on the farm, these things are always lying around somewhere. He also found it because he went out looking for it thinking to himself (en Français), “I’m going to find something very very hard — the head of a sledgehammer — and place it in Georges’ pillowcase.”
And that’s what he did.
And then it was bedtime. It actually never occurred to me to ask my mum if they went to bed early or late. I think it really depended on the time of the season. Sometimes you had to stay up late working and always you had to get up early. Georges was no doubt settling down for a good night’s sleep after a long day of back-breaking farm work and avoiding the twins. My mum and her brother were no doubt barely containing themselves in their own beds as they waited and listened for Georges to discover the gift they’d left for him.
From Georges’ perspective, and in my imagination, it went down a little something like this:
Position self on bed. Slide feet quickly into the foot of the bed under the covers. Feel something unusual brushing against feet, triggering thoughts of evil gophers. React by stiffening and slamming body very hard into the mattress… and pillowcase. Bash head on sledgehammer head that used to be a very soft pillow. Experience a combination of terror and extreme pain simultaneously. Nearly wet self. Hear laughter of irritating bugger children. Become enraged. Curse loudly in French.
Knowing what little I do know about Georges, I would imagine the poor man had a very awful sleep that night. Nightmares of some kind of terrible reverse Whack-a-Mole dancing over his brain. Désolé, Georges!
In my next post, I’ll tell you about how the twins were able to ruin Georges’ breakfast. And I’ll cap off this short series with some words on the kinds of things my uncle and mum have accomplished since their childhood.