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July 28, 2023

The older I get, the less I cry

8:05 a.m. at the coffee shop
Could my heart be hardening? I don’t remember the last time I cried. Dry eyes, dry skin, dry mouth and the invasive dryness of old age. Thank goodness, my ink still flows. For the longest time I washed my hair with the water I collected from the clouds’ tears, just like my mother used to.

When I was a child, I bawled for nothing and everything. I cried when my brother crumpled my drawing, stole my eraser or chewed on my colouring pencils. I sobbed when he put strawberries in my basket without destemming them first and when he hid his marbles to keep me from playing with them. I remember my brother as some sort of Dennis the Menace before his time..

Mother cried in her room or on the shoulder of our neighbour Mrs. Berthelot when Dad’s job as a travelling salesman would take him away on his business trips. During those years, misery looked like an Olympic-sized centipede capable of climbing anywhere and slipping into any crevice.

When Dad came back on Friday nights and opened a bottle of beer while listening to Mario Lanza, our living room filled with sadness. I often wanted to dry the tears that fell on his big cheeks, but I didn’t. Our small bodies never got near the warmth of our parents. There were never any hugs, no pet names or kind words and never any rewards that might have made us feel like we were good kids.

I guess our sorrows were washed into the sea when the tide went out and we grew up like wild weeds on the side of the road, without tenderness or solid guidance. The absence of love between our parents was like permanently living with a ghost in the room. I regularly heard them quarrelling late at night: my mother grumbled and my father wept. What else could I have done at that time but to believe that life was an unfair and unforgiving mistress who governed our lives? I knew nothing about the important things a young girl should know as she grows into adulthood.

I cried night and day in silence every single year I was married: when the mother-in-law criticized how I cooked, when my sisters-in-law talked behind my back, each time the husband forbade me to see my parents and almost every night once the kids were asleep. My eyes were constantly tearing up as soon as I found myself alone in the apartment, behind closed doors. Eventually, I escaped with the children, and it’s as if the sky cleared and all the clouds dispersed. I rebuilt my life on solid ground. Day after day, I started believing in miracles, angels, fairy godmothers and in the helping hand of a superpower who exists is to love humans.

My happiness now consists of dressing up the ordinariness of each day. Smile, lend a hand, acknowledge, give, pray, love and write. Writing to feed my lines, quench lonely hearts and ennoble my soul.

I write almost anywhere, but I prefer the coffee shop, surrounded by people. I hear the music of their chitchat, and people send dozens of sweet hellos my way. One could think that the hustle and bustle of the place bothers me, but the opposite is true. I always have a smile on my face.

Maybe that’s what I’ve taken away from all those years I worked in restaurants. From cook to boss, I loved being surrounded by customers. Today, I write. I compose delicious letters with the same enthusiasm I had when all I wanted was to please those sitting at our tables.

I still love to serve you your first Sunday morning coffee, dear readers, and surprise you with an entertaining story. I especially love recounting everything there is to say on the great banality of everyday life. It’s my favourite theme..

The older I get, the less I cry. I learn to dedramatize my life, including even the smallest daily annoyances. I misplace objects; I lose my keys every other day, my sunglasses, my credit card holder, my grocery list and so on. I have my ways to foil my forgetfulness.

l get around a bit slower than I used to. I think before I act; before leaving the house or coffee shop where I write, or heading off to the office twice a week.

Did I forget something? Where is my cell phone? This electronic telecommunication gadget is absolutely essential for me. If I lose it, I’ll cry.