My family is french canadian which means absolutely nothing to you unless you also happen to be french canadian. Careful observation of my people revealed our most significant cultural traits:
1. A love of butter.
2. Deep dark sarcasm.
3. Generally emotionally stunted.
4. A love of strong tea.
5. Very, very funny.
This brings me to this woman.
This is my Memere with my mother.
Like most of the french canadians of her age, my Memere's first language was french. She learned english as an adult when her children went to school. My memories of my grandparents are filled with the unique version of french spoken loudly in much of New Hampshire fifty years ago. My Memere was what we affectionately call "a piece of work". She was very funny and often a bit, well, saucy.
Once she left me a voice mail that said, "God damn it all to hell!"
She wasn't fond of answering machines.
There is one story that she told my mother and my mother then told me.
My Memere went to visit a friend who was not a tidy housekeeper. It was actually said that her house was a complete pig sty. Utterly filthy. I digress.
The way the story goes is that this friend sat all day chain smoking and drinking tea. Being a polite hostess she offered my memere some tea. As this friend went to the kettle to boil some water she noticed something dark on the floor. She bent over and looked at it.
"C'est la merde?" Is it shit, she asked?
She stuck a yellow nicotine stained finger into the pile and sniffed it.
"Oui, c'est la merde!" Yes, it is shit!
For some reason this phrase has stuck with me and this morning when Rebecca woke me to tell me that the dog's crate was full of diarrhea I was grateful that my cultural heritage has given me this most perfect turn of phrase, this gift for perfectly summing up the situation.
I went downstairs, still groggy and looked in the crate.
Is it shit?
Yes, it is shit.