How did he get such an usual moniker? Well, his mother allowed her sisters to each contribute a name, and I guess those Babineau girls had pretty similar taste in names! Yes, I said Babineau girls - my grandmother, Judith Babineau, married my grandfather, Edward Babineau - they were distant cousins.
I have some photos of my father as baby and little boy. In one, he is sitting on an ornately carved chair, probably a year old. He is bald, with huge eyes, and is reaching out, trying to grab life. That was my Dad - he grabbed life. He grew up through WWI and the Depression. His father was a plumber, and as the oldest child, he first was his father's helper and learned the trade. He had to leave school in the 7th grade to help his father support the family. By the time my father was a young man, there were three little babies in the family and the depression was in full swing.
Another photo is of my father at about two or so. He has a dutch boy haircut, a mischievous look in his eye, and a sailor suit complete with hat and short pants which show his dimpled knees. He was adorable. He was the first of his generation on his mother's side, and his aunts totally doted on him. Even when they married and had their own families, they still doted on him, and he doted on them. I remember the endless visiting of the aunties, and how they would eat up every word he said. Now, what he actually said to them was usually pretty outrageous - he would tease them and tell them how pretty they looked - and he meant it! When he walked into their homes, it was a party, because Edmour was here!
My Dad loved women. He loved to be around them. He appreciated them and found them interesting. I think that maybe because he was surrounded by them as a baby, he found their company in later life comforting. There are 14 years between my father and his next brother, and in between, there were at least four babies that I know of who died within the first few months of birth. How very sad for my Memiere. I imagine that unspeakable sadness somehow made my father more precious to her, and also to her sisters.
But there is no denying that there was a mutual admiration society going on between my father and his aunts: Dora, Justine, Alexena, Amelie, Julie and Alma. Those are the ones that I knew. In fact, when my own baby was about six months old, I took her to New Bedford to meet my father's baby sister Anita, and together, she and I took her to meet the last of the aunts, Aunt Alma Trembly. By that time, Aunt Alma was blind, so she held Elisabeth on her lap and touched her face all over, and squeezed her thighs, making her laugh. My chest hurt - I was that proud! Aunt Alma's son, Paul, sat next to her, smiling. Now, those Trembly's are one more handsome the next, probably the best looking of their generation of cousins. They all have gorgeous eyes, Paul and Louise have blue eyes like Aunt Alma, and Jeanne has brown like Uncle Walter. Aunt Alma told me in that French Canadian twang of hers, that Elisabeth was a beautiful baby and I should be very proud, but as beautiful as she was, she was not the most beautiful baby ever. At this, Paul began beaming. Paul is a very handsome man and I bet he was an adorable baby. Aunt Alma went on to say that the most beautiful baby she ever saw was... Edmour! Paul almost fell off the sofa! Edmour was so beautiful and so perfect with his ten little toes and ten little fingers, and he was so loving and sweet and so very mischievous! But even when he was bad, he was so adorable and loving and sweet and and and... Aunt Alma's whole demeanor softened when she spoke about my father. She had a faraway look in her eyes and smile on her lips. She was lost in what, to her, were beautiful memories of a beautiful baby boy that she loved very, very much.
And there it was. That was my father. As a child, he was so charming and loving that you forgave him everything; as an adult, he was so charming and loving that you forgave him everything, and as an old man beset with Alzheimers, he was still so very charming and loving that you forgave him everything.
Alzheimer's patients often become mean spirited and angry, but my father didn't. He remained who he had always been - upbeat, mischievous, sweet, kind and loving. He became more childlike. As the disease progressed, I saw glimpses of the little boy that his aunties were besotted with, and I began to understand that mysterious bond between him and them. lHe was quite an unforgettable child and he was quite an unforgettable man.
Today is his 94th birthday. Happy birthday, Dad. You are sorely missed.