1967 – Percé and Me

One summer my parents took me on a trip to the ocean. Well, almost the ocean. We were going to visit a place where there was a big rock in the water with a huge hole in it. Apparently this was something to see. When we got there, I looked at the hole, looked at my parents and wondered what this meant about being an adult.

 

On our way to the big rock, we stopped at my dad’s great uncle’s house. He had been a judge and a politician his whole life. He and his wife, were now retired and lived in this big house with lots of books and an old orange cat named Percy.   As we headed up the dusty driveway, the cat who was laying in the sun, slowly got up and moved into the shade under the porch. My parents hated cats. I was afraid my father would run it over.

 

« Cats are no better than rats. » said my father. « A hairy nuisance with a bad character. Can’t trust them. »

I thought the same thing about my cousin Harry.

 

The judge was a tall thin man who wore his silver hair like a crown. In his reading room he had a rock collection that he wanted to show me. He had a reading room. He must have been intelligent. He spoke slowly and used words I had never heard. He explained how rocks can be like humans, hard and soft at the same time. Somehow, I understood everything he said.   I thought it was a good thing to have him as a relative, even if it was a distant one. He smelled like cologne and wore a white shirt and shiny shoes even on weekends. His wife, Justine, didn’t speak much and her eyes were always filled with water. Her eyes were in high tide. My mom had explained to me that they couldn’t have children which was a real mystery to me. Their house had at least six times more bedrooms than ours and we were six children.

 

From where we sat in the living room, we could see the big rock with the hole. Justine served us tea and shortbread cookies.   Her heart was like that rock, a big hole with water pouring through it.   Maybe I could fill that hole.

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