Monday, August 3, 2009

Evangeline's trail

When my mother was in eighth grade she memorized 22 lines from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Evangeline. Over the years, she would recite the lines, impressing me always that she could continue, into her 90s, to remember what she had learned at 12.
Today we talked about Evangeline again. Ben and I are traveling to my paternal grandparents' birthplace in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia in October. I told her about our reservations at a B&B just off Highway 1, the Evangeline Trail. I asked her if she knew the history and she said, "Oh yes, the...who are they, now?...they were expelled from Nova Scotia."
I went to get her copy of "Evangeline," from the bookshelf. It was published in 1909 the year my mother was born, and given to her for Christmas 1918 by her Uncle Dan. The historical preface says, "in so far as it is inspired by facts, Longfellow's Evangeline is based on the historic event known as the 'expulsion of the Acadians' from Nova Scotia in 1755."
"Oh, that's right, the Acadians," she said.
Once again, at my behest, she recited those lines. Her facility of expression, her near perfect diction, her sparkling eyes reminds me how blessed she is, how blessed I am, that she has her mind and wits about her.
Then she said, "I used to have instant recall."
I laughed and said, "I've never had instant recall."
In spite of all the drama surrounding the daily business of attending to a centenarian, my mother's life is a gift to me.

1 comment:

Cynthia said...

How beautifully written. Such an important piece of our history and how amazing that your mother has such memory of that work. Amazing, she's something to treasure.

My name is Cynthia and I work with Nova Scotia Tourism. I came across your post and had to leave a comment. I hope you enjoy your visit with us. There are many opportunities to experience Acadian heritage. Here is a clip of the Acadian museum.

and some info about tracing your roots.

I hope you have a wonderful vacation and some new stories to share. If you have any questions or need some help, feel free to contact me