Chapter 5

Sister Doctor

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Sister Doctor P1
Sister Doctor P2
Sister Doctor P3
Sœur docteur P1
Sœur docteur P2
Sœur docteur P3
Seur Dokteur P1
Seur Dokteur P2
Seur Dokteur P3
It’s my job to bring clean towels to the convent infirmary. As I walk in, I hear Sister Doctor saying: – Quick, bring them here!
I hurry to bring the towels and to my surprise, Sister Doctor points to the Man’s head and says
Press with all your strength to stop the blood while I sew.
I do as she says and soon the blood stops and the man breathes calmly. It’s clear from his expression that he has an awful headache.
I’ll go make red willow tea.
I run like a rabbit to the kitchen. When I return, Sister Doctor is busy with another patient.
She tells me to help the man still too weak to hold the cup. Before I leave the infirmary, Sister Doctor stops me.
How do you know what helps migraines?
My grandmother takes me with her to gather plants and herbs.
Estelle, do you like the convent life?
Oh yes, I want to be a Grey Nun, but I don’t want to be a schoolteacher. I think I would be good in the kitchen like Sister Laurent.
Would you like to help me in the infirmary?
Oh yes! My greatest dream is to take care of the sick.
The next day and the day after and the weeks after that, Sister Doctor teaches me all sorts of things. Sometimes she tells me: Listen carefully, look carefully.
It’s important that you remember this when I’m not here anymore. Are you leaving?
Yes, I’m going back to the convent in Ottawa.
But Sister! What will become of the Métis families without their Sister Doctor?
The next day, my father, my mother and the Riels come to the convent to protest Sister Doctor’s departure. In a stern voice, Mother Superior cuts short their pleas:
Sister St. Therese has been loaned to us by her religious order in Ottawa for three years. There is nothing I can do to keep her here. She will leave tomorrow morning for the East.
The next morning, a Métis man arrives in a cart at the convent to pick up Sister Doctor and her small travel bag.
All the sisters, students and workers of the convent are gathered to bid her farewell.
She looks for me in the crowd and I walk towards her to take her suitcase.
I accompany her to the cart and greet the cart driver who looks familiar. Before getting on, she puts her hand in the bulky pocket of her coat and gives me a black rosery.
You will pray for both of us for the sick. I nod and she adds: And pray that I have patience during this long train ride.
The next afternoon, I see a surprising scene from the upper window of the convent. It’s Mother Superior running with her skirts swirling around her like a top.
She arrives at the cart just as the cart driver is helping Sister Doctor disembark. The cart driver is the one speaking to Mother Superior.
Hey, on the way to St. Paul, a group of Métis intercepted our cart and forced us to turn back towards St. Boniface.
It was a big group that wasn’t in a good mood — I had no choice.
I see Sister Doctor nodding her head to confirm the story of the cart driver. Sister Superior seems to understand that the experience was upsetting for her colleague.
She takes the suitcase and the two nuns walk together to the convent. Before leaving, the cart driver looks up at the window where I am standing and waves happily.
I didn’t recognize him without the bandage on his head! It’s the man whose life was saved a few months ago by Sister Doctor (and me!).
My heart sings. Thank you for bringing back Sister Doctor to the Métis!
Li ma job d’amni di sarvyette prop a l’einfirmri dju kouvan. Kan jâ rantri, j’antan Seur Dokteur ke dji : Vitte amenne-li isitte!
J’m’grouye pour amni li sarvyette pi sh’ta bein supri kan Seur Dokteur a pweinte a la têt d’l’omme pi a m’dji : Ma toutte ta fors pour arrêti l’san pandan ke j’kou.
Sh’fa kousé ka m’dji pi, dan pâ gran tan, l’san y’arrêt pi l’omme y respir bein kalm. Sa para su sa fasse kyâ ein gro mal di têt. Ma pripari ein ti avek d’l’ikors di sôl rouj.
J’kour a kwizinne kom ein lyève. Kan jâ r’vyein back, Seur Dokteur li âkupi avek ein ôt pasyan. A m’fa ségne d’édi l’omme ki l’ita pâ assi forre ankorre pour tchyeinde sa tâsse.
Avan ke j’sorre d’l’einfirmri, Seur Dokteur a m’arrêt. Koman tchu sé kousé k’yéd di migrenne?
Ma memérre m’amenne avek elle ramâssi di plante pi di z’erb.
Estelle, l’emme tchu la vie dju kouvan?
Ah wè, j’veu êt enne Seur Grize. Mé j’veu pâ êt enne mitresse d’ikol. J’pans ke sh’ra bonne dan kwizinne kom Seur Laurent.
L’landmein, pi l’jour pi li s’menne apra, Seur Dokteur a m’mont toutte sorte d’aferre. Di fwè, a m’dji : Ikoutte bein pi r’gord bein.
Ein jour, a s’arrêt : S’teinportan ke tchu t’rappel ditsâ-sitte kan sh’râ pu isitte. Sa parre? Wè, j’rant ô kouvan a Ottawa.
Mé ma Seur! Kousé kli faméye méchisse von ferre san leu Seur Dokteur?
Li landmein, mon pérre, ma mérre pi li Riel y von ô kouvan pour montri ke sonta pâ kontan ke Seur Dokteur a parre.
Avek enne vwè bein siverre, la Mérre Supirieur a l’arrêt toutte leu d’mand: Seur Sainte-Thérèze nouza iti prèti pour twâ z’anni par sa kongrigasyon d’Ottawa.
Sh’peu pâ ryein ferre pour la gardi isitte. A vâ parchir d’mein matein pour alli dan l’Esse.
L’landmein matein, ein Méchisse an sharette arrive ô kouvan pour sharshi Seur Dokteur pi son pchi sak di wéyaj.
Toute li Seur, sonta lâ pour y djirre bobye.
A m’sharsh dan l’group pi j’vâ a elle pour prande sa valize.
J’vâ avek elle juska sharette pi j’dji allo a selwi ke menne la sharette. Sh’file kom si j’l’konna.
Avant ka mont, a ma la mein dan la grosse posh di son mantô, pi a sorre ein shapla nwerre ka m’danne.
Tchu prirâ pour nouzôt deux pour nô malad. Pi pri pour ke j’éye d’la pasians pandan ste gran wéyaj an trein a Ottawa.
Jy r’gorde la sharette ke s’an vâ, pour alli s’plassi a fein d’la ligni di sharette.
L’landmein apra-midji, jwè kéchose par l’shâssi dju hô dju kouvan, ke mâ supri. Si la Mérre Supirieur ke kour avek si jupe ke tourn alantour d’elle kom enne toupi.
A l’arrive a sharette an mêm tan ke selwi ke menne la sharette, éde la Seur Dokteur a disand.
Si lwi ke parl a Mérre Supirieur.
Su l’shmein ke menne a Saint-Paul, ein group di Méchisse l’ava r’viri notte sharette di barre, pi noza forsi a r’vyeind back a Saint-Boniface.
Sta ein gro group ke l’ita pâ kontan. J’ava pâ d’shwè.
J’wè Seur Dokteur ke kante la têt pour djirre ke son istwerre l’ita vra. La Seur Supirieur a konpran finalman ke s’t’enne ixpirians ky l’ava iti toff pour elle.
A pran la valize pi li deu, sa marsh ansanb divou kyé l’kouvan. Avan di parchir, selwi ke menne la sharette y r’gord ô shâssi divou ke shu, pi y m’fa ein gran salu.
J’la pâ r’konnu san son pansman sua têt. Sta l’omme ke Seur Dokteur, pi Mwé, l’ava sôvi sa vi ya kuk mwâ.
Mon keurre y shant. Marsi d’awerre ramni la Seur Dokteurô Méchisse.