Annie Mae was my mother's mother's sister. For most of her life, she lived in Montreal, but she never missed an opportunity to come to Ottawa to visit her nieces, my mom and my Aunt Joyce. And, of course, she visited with her great nieces and nephews—my sisters, my brother, and my cousins. And me.
One of the things we loved the most about Annie Mae, apart from the amazing fudge she'd bring or make during her stay, was her twisted sense of humour (no jokes were censored) and her quirky expressions: budado for potato; bunker for kitchen counters; affie-gans for afghan sweaters. Whenever she said any of these, it was all we could do to surpress our snickers.
I'll also never forget a conversation she and I had, once, when I was in my teens. It was winter, and I was heading out, either to head to school or to meet with a friend. I put my boots on, zipped up my jacket, and headed for the door. As I reached the door, Annie Mae called out to me.
"Put a touque on," she said.
"I'm good," I replied. "It's not that cold out." Also, I thought but didn't say, it's not cool to wear headgear.
"You'll freeze your brain," Annie Mae warned.
"Yes, you'll freeze your brain. I read about it in the newspaper. These kids were skiing and they weren't wearing hats. Halfway down the slope, they dropped dead. Their brains were frozen."
I didn't know if this was that twisted sense of humour of hers, going into overdrive. I left the house, without a touque.
And my brain didn't freeze.
But if you want to wear a touque this winter and make it look like you're exposing your grey matter to the cold, here's one way to do it:
I miss you, Annie Mae. I think you would have loved this hat.