Feeds his mother Duty

Mélikah Abdelmoumen was born in 1972 in Chicoutimi. He lived in Lyon from 2005 to 2017. He holds a doctorate in literature from the University of Montreal and has published numerous essays and short stories, as well as several novels and essays, including Disaster (2013) and Twelve years in France (2018). He was editor of the group Villa-Mary Literature in Montreal from June 2019 to 2021. His next book, Baldwin, Styron and I.Will be published by Mémoire d’encrier in February 2022. He is the editor-in-chief of the journal Quebec characters.

I’m helping her eat at my mother’s house in Bagotville, Saguen’s CHSLD.

My son, my husband and I jumped into the car and left Montreal a week before Christmas. Given the progress of the Omicron variant, we feared that it would be complicated to move from one region to another or that the number of carers allowed to visit CHSLD residents would decrease.

I live in Montreal and my mother has been back in her hometown of La Bay for several years. My aunt Monique, my uncle Remy and his wife Martin are the first three on the caring list. I am fourth, because those who live in La Bay take care of her every day.

I am feeding my mother like feeding a baby. I am not allowed to leave, I am not allowed to use the toilet in the room to eat or drink while taking off my mask. Omicron has already begun its frantic advance, and these warnings are necessary to protect the mother, her neighbors, and all the workers who care for them.

Good time

The last time I came, there was a silence towards the epidemic. I was allowed to stay in the common dining room with my mother, other boarders and attendants. There are incredible memories of these moments spent with them, caring for four or five of all the residents of 2.And On stage they joked, trying to inspire those who pretended to give up, presiding with firmness and delicacy at all stages of the meal. And they were clowns around, teasing Borders, teasing each other. I was there, seeing each of their jokes with a big open smile, and it was great to see them and feel it with them.

I think when feeding mom, alone in her room with her, like all caregivers, forbidden from the common room, omikron is obligatory. My mom and I, despite our strained relationship, shared it: a certain very teasing humor, sometimes laughing at the worst moments. This is one of the last things that left him: his joke. My jokes no longer affect him, even the simplest and most childish. He does not understand them.

I’m trying to convince him to eat his meat. On the wall, just behind him, is a picture of him in his forties, which he once opened at a stationery counter in Montreal. He sold pens, feathers, cards, paper, trinkets, gifts. After years of teaching immigrants French for the school board, he decided to try it out: start another life, run your own shop.

A life before

The woman I am spoon-feeding and whom the CHSLD staff knows is ill, declining, suffering from dementia, this woman’s star and they are caring, her life was full of adventurous projects. Politics in the world of music, then with this business.

Earlier, he met a Tunisian on the corner of his country and welcomed him into his life. They are married and have two daughters, my sister and I. They left Saguen for the big city of Montreal. They got divorced and he opened this store where I got my first job as a student.

All this life, her life, comes to mind when I look at this photo of her, holding her head high, strong will, beautiful and full life behind her checkout counter.

I look at the one in front of me today and I tell myself that even if he doesn’t remember it he carries it inside him.

And all the other Borders, the seniors who live here because their families are unable to give them a place, what adventure, what achievement, what insanity and exploitation is hidden in one corner of their brain where they no longer have access? What memories and what small revolutions are they no longer able to count or remember?

I remember the servants who took care of them, smiled at them, gave them all the necessary care, almost two years after the epidemic, without giving up, without losing their rigor or their commitment to work, and I say to myself: they and they It would be impossible not to know in detail all the ways behind each of their inhabitants. But one thing is clear: the way they address their residents and their families, the staff members of CHSLD de Bagotville, even after two years of this incredibly difficult situation, continue to work with the respect that bothers me today. I sincerely thank them.

Because, it seems, in each of their poses, they and they know that behind this fragile, damaged body, without memory, behind this creature without sound, there are people who have survived through critical moments and done great, incredible things. Things, who vibrated, acted, brave.

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