Aunt Martha at Fair-
mont Bagel Bakery
Without understanding a word of the sermon she still knew precisely when to join in unison with all the motions. When to kneel down on the pew in prayer. When to cross herself. When to perform all the other movements in parallel with the rest of the congregation: actions that I myself recognized but did not remember the precise cue to carry out.
I suppose Aunt Martha's familiarity with the rituals of Mass makes sense. She grew up in the Philippines where she was evidently raised with a hearty dose of Catholicism.
Aunt Martha is the first to arrive among several guests whom I expect to host over this summer. ("Aunt" is more of an honorific here. She's really my dad's second cousin.) This morning at Notre Dame Basilica she followed along with Mass conducted entirely in French despite not having any ability in that language. Service at the Basilica in the Old City has become one point among the main sights of Montréal--and beyond--where I offer to take out-of-town guests when I guide them around town over their visits.
Aunt Martha and David Atop
City Walls, Québec City
Aunt Martha outside Le Lapin
Sauté, Rue Petit Champlain
One thing I'll say for Aunt Martha: she's among the best people I know for meeting up anywhere on the planet. Most recently we saw each other in her new hometown of Washington, D.C.. Before that, we'd connected in-person in Los Angeles, Urumqi, Chicago, Nashville, and Long Island. Who knows where we'll next rendezvous?
Finally, on Wednesday Aunt Martha will return to her home in Washington, D.C. after a full week visiting me here in Montréal. Thanks for taking the time to come calling, Aunt Martha!
Then, just 17 hours after she sets off my next guest will roll into town.