Elephants, swimmers, grampas and centennials

We’re just sitting here talking about Lila-Jeanne’s noises – not the gas inspired farts and burps, or the air squeezing through narrow passages giving life to snores and hiccoughs – no we’re talking the trumpeting, nasally charged noise that is Lila’s personal signature. There’s no telling when she’ll join the conversation with an insouciant riff just letting us know she is there.

Out shopping with maman this afternoon she was on a roll. She had a monologue going on loud enough for other shoppers to hear and then look around to find the source. When their eyes lit on Lila, Mé looked at them and said, “I’ve got an elephant here.” Yes, there were smiles.

It’s been a sporty day. Nellie and I went for our first swim together. This was a contentious issue for Noah last night before bedtime and all morning from wake up to school drop off. There was some behaviour on the loose and well articulated unhappiness pointedly delivered about his absence from the pool excursion.

Nellie had a blast skimming along the water’s surface like a boatman supported in papa’s hands. Then she saw the slide. It was a must do. Nellie and another girl were taking turn about and watching each other’s exploits as they whizzed down and landed with a splash in their respective parent’s outstretched arms. The perpetually wet plastic makes the ride slick and speedy. Nellie leaned too far back on one of her descents and banged her head on the slide hard enough to make the tears flow.

After some hugging, buoy like bobbing and softly spoken words we made new fun over at a basketball net. Nellie was the champion player coming in to the basket with ball firmly gripped in both hands. Just as we approached, I whooshed her out of the water, lifted her to the full extension of my arms and watched as she slam dunked the ball through the hoop. This was a repeat many times activity capped with a giggle each time she threw the ball through the hoop.

Before our session was over, there was rafting on a large size float board, sliding on a ‘baby’ slide, soaking in the shallow, warm pool, more swimming in the water with papa and, at Nellie’s request, a final conquest of the nasty, head bump slide. The final whooshes were without incident, a sure indication that there will be more sliding and gleeful squeals on subsequent visits.

We popped into Canadian Tire on the way home – two visits, in two days. There could be a trend developing here. I feel a third visit coming on tomorrow to swoop up one of the new $1 coins that will be available December 5 and 6.

Coming out of the store, a fellow shopper looks at Nellie in my arms and asks me, “Grandad?”

“No, I’m the dad,” I reply.

“Yes,” he says with a laugh. “I had a girl when I was 44. She’s 19 now.”

“I know what you mean,” I say. “I had a girl at 52. She’s just two weeks old.”

“Wait, you mean two years don’t you?” he says pointing at Nellie.

“No, this is a new baby I’m talking about. It’s her little sister. Got it all figured out how this happens now though,” I say with a grin.

This causes some more laughter. “You have a great time with those girls and enjoy your day,” he says as we part ways and head for our respective vehicles. This was my first taken for a grampa by mistake encounter. There will be many more of those in the years ahead.

What better way to end the evening than to watch les Glorieux thump the Bruins on the centenary of the club’s founding. Les Canadiens have a mythical stature in professional sports that is beautifully captured in Roch Carrier’s The Sweater, a great story and a wonderful NFB animated short. Unlike Carrier, I would have been thrilled to receive a Maple Leafs jersey by mail order catalogue when I was a boy. Living in Toronto I was a natural Leafs fan and on occasion sat in the Greys at the Gardens for an Original Six dust up.

It was all class tonight at the Centre Bell. This was a time to recognize great individual achievements and team efforts, to pay respect to the players, the fans and the game. Two more banners were raised high above the ice surface to join the timeless immortels. Émile Bouchard (3) and Elmer Lach (16) joined 13 other former Habs whose numbers have been retired. Bouchard’s son Pierre, also a former Canadiens, wheeled his father onto the ice for the ceremonies. Toward the end of the celebration the elder Bouchard blew kisses to the crowd. A moment of tenderness, love and thanks. What a night, what a franchise, what a treasure.

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