My Lovely Chinese Lady

Cher Yukon,

Comment ca va? I am now living in “La Belle Province”. I think I should first give you a brief history about how I came to be here in Montréal after having spent over 25 years in the Yukon where I married twice, raised my two children and worked at jobs I loved in the performing arts world.

The whole process was like a series of doors that kept opening for Grant, my husband, and me. I wanted to spend time with my Mom while Grant wanted to study at McGill.

We sold our condo and furniture, took on a house-sitting gig last winter, received approval for education leave and applied to McGill. Now, here we are in a duplex owned by my nephew’s in-laws in Verdun.

Grant loves his program and I, well, let’s just say, am adjusting.

At first, I really felt like a “fish out of water”, but now I am acclimatizing to my situation. This brings me to my first story: My Lovely Chinese Lady.

One night, after coming home from a dance class (yes, I am still dancing), I stopped in at the “depanneur” at the end of our street for a bottle of wine.

By the way, you can buy wine at any corner store here, but that’s another story.

Anyway, I went to the till to pay and noticed some flyers for an upcoming show at Place des Arts about Chinese stories and dance called Divine. As I picked up a flyer, the lady behind the counter drew a big smile, pulled out a Chinese fan from behind the counter and began singing and dancing.

My first reaction was surprise, confusion, then complete joy at the fact that this lady was sharing with me something that obviously meant so much to her.

We managed to converse through sign language, as she spoke no English or French (only numbers). I learned that she had been a dancer/teacher in China. I paid for my wine, we said goodnight, and I walked home smiling to myself. The story doesn’t end here, however.

A few days later, back at the depanneur (chips this time), the lady’s 17-year-old daughter was behind the counter while her Mom puttered about the store. Upon giving me my change, the daughter gave me a Divine flyer. I said I already had one and I would like to see the show.

Now her face drew a big smile as she advised me she was a sales agent for the show and I would get a 35-per-cent discount if I were to buy a ticket from her.

“Deal,” I said. The Mom, who had watched the transaction take place, pulled out her fan and began singing and dancing again, much to the embarrassment of her daughter.

“My Mom,” she sighed. With the daughter’s help as translator, the Mom and I conversed and I relayed that I, too, was a dancer/teacher.

“You show!” exclaimed the Mom. Not to disappoint, I did a quick kick-ball-change, pas de bourre, pirouette, ‘ta da’ to cheers and applause.

Of course I was totally embarrassed, but felt a sense of freedom as well. This lady, miles away from her home and culture had connected with me miles away from my Yukon home and dance world.

We had found a common thread and it warmed my heart.

We laughed and I went on my way. I have bumped into this lady a few times on the street and she stops, takes my arms, smiles, and nods at me. I call her my Lovely Chinese Lady.

Well, that’s all for now everyone. In my next letter, I will describe the fine art of sidewalk shopping in Verdun. Bye for now!

Your friend,



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