The Red Duo-Tang

It is a simple duo-tang that Mom had created for me and I thought it had been lost in my storage. She began it sometime after I was born, and wrote down every little thing.

She wrote down things like:

“Rolled over from front to back – August 30, 1967”.

“Daddy holds Paula a lot”.

“Fussy during day”.

“October 2, 1967 – When you speak to her she smiles”.

“6 Months – February 1968 – Paula has to have white dog that G&G D gave her for xmas, to go to sleep at nite. We lost her pacifier in the airport at Washington, DC. She sucks her thumb. She bats her ear when she’s tired and becomes awfully rough”.

She wrote in it all the way up till I graduated High School.

I’d been diagnosed with a learning disability in grade two, which meant even though my IQ may be in the top percentile my marks would not reflect that. Over the years I have done research and found my own voice, but back when I was in school our educational system wasn’t equipped to handle children with auditory learning problems. I am a learn through doing type, I don’t retain a thing by listening alone. Over the years I have embraced this reality and no longer term it a “disability”, but rather an inability on the system to engage me and that is educations’ disability, not mine.

So when Mom wrote the following after my Grade 8 graduation, that is what she is referring to. After grade school I would be going to Grade nine which of course meant High School.

“At awards day Paula received the “most improved student” award and the “Principal’s Award”. The Principals award was donated by the Lioness Club. It goes to the boy & girl in Grade 8 who is the best all round person & a student the teachers enjoy having in their classes. It’s the first year for it and their names on the plaque the Lioness donated as the first recipients. It will hang in the lobby of the school. They each received a small plaque of their own. She also received a bus monitors award and ended up with the most awards for the girls in Grade 8. What a finish for Grade School. She was so pleased & we’re so proud”.

My Lil’Sis and I were looking for something else in one of those old chest of drawers in the Great Room and I saw the tattered red corner sticking out. I clutched it to me like it was a precious artifact. That piece of furniture I found it in has been in that room for as long as I can remember, and there it was tucked under a stack of other books and papers. I must have put it there when I came up in 2010, but I don’t remember doing it at all. Strange.
I’ve been completely uninspired lately. I have no words to write, bits and pieces of unfinished poems litter my journal. I’ve applied for jobs that never call me, I take Irish for a walk and pictures are rarely taken. The morning comes and here I sit, again, wondering what to write. I feel angry, disheartened and disillusioned. Helpful souls ask why don’t I just apply for anything – soul sucking, retail, coffee shop – “oh, McDonald’s is hiring 6000 employees”. Ugh. God help me. The unemployment rate in London is the highest in Canada, wonderful. Just wonderful. So that means I won’t be able to live here, unless I want a McJob. So I guess I’m heading up the highway east towards the GTA.

Tuesday February 15 1977 – “From Me to You”.

You seem to be growing up so quickly. Last week or the week before we had a long discussion about where a baby comes from and how they’re made. I hope you understood – at least part of what I told you. If you ever have a question about that or anything else I hope you will always come to me for an answer or just someone to talk anything over with. I don’t want to know all your thoughts, but if you ever have a problem I’m willing to listen if you want.

I miss you Mom. I wish you were here to talk to, or even just for a hug.

10 thoughts on “The Red Duo-Tang

  1. I feel for you Paula-Marie. It’s nice that you have a journal from your Mother. I have none. And I am sorry that job is scarce,


    1. Thank you Perpetua. I’ve realized over the years how true that is…few people I know have such details. It’s a blessing.

      And on the job front…I’ve never had this type of problem looking for work. Ugh. Scary.


      1. I know how scary it is when one is used to working. I had that feeling a few times in my life when I was looking for work. Just keept on looking is all I can say.


  2. Ugh, I feel you sister. There is no replacement for Mom. But indytony is right that finding that notebook was a blessing. Your mom had faith in you and so do we. You WILL rise up from these ashes and find your way (and not to Micky D’s!). I know it’s frustrating and scary right now but as my mother used to tell me, “you’re going to be okay.” Hugs to you.


    1. Thank you IndyTony. I’m going to incorporate it now … somehow into this blog. Haven’t figured that part out yet…but there are some fantastic stories she recorded.


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