Transcript: Gail Gallant: Living with My Sister's Ghost | Aug 23, 2019

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses, a red blazer over a black shirt, and a thin golden necklace.

A caption on screen reads "Living with my sister's ghost. Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says THE DEATH OF A CHILD
IS A DEVASTATING TRAUMA
FOR ANY FAMILY.
THAT IT WOULD PROVOKE A MOTHER
TO PRAY FOR ANOTHER BABY TO
REPLACE THE ONE SHE LOST
IS NOT ALL THAT SURPRISING,
BUT WHAT IS IT
TO BE THAT NEW CHILD?
GAIL GALLANT SPENT
A LIFETIME STRUGGLING WITH THAT,
AND TAKES US THROUGH
IT IN HER NEW BOOK.
IT'S CALLED
THE CHANGELING,
A MEMOIR OF
MY DEATH AND REBIRTH,
MY HAUNTED CHILDHOOD,
AND MY EDUCATION
IN SAINTHOOD AND SIN.
AND GAIL GALLANT JOINS US NOW.

Gail is in her late forties, with straight chestnut hair in a bob and bangs. She's wearing a printed midnight blue blouse and a thin beaded necklace.
A picture of the book appears briefly on screen. The cover features a picture of a broken picture frame containing black and white pictures of children.

Nam continues IT'S SUCH A PLEASURE
TO MEET YOU.

Gail says YOU, TOO.

Nam says BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL BOOK.
THANK YOU.
SO, YOU WERE BORN ABOUT
A YEAR AFTER A TRAGIC ACCIDENT
DEVASTATED YOUR FAMILY.
WHAT HAPPENED?

The caption changes to "Gail Gallant. Author, 'The changeling.'"
Then, it changes again to "Miracle birth."

Gail says WELL, MY PARENTS
CAME UP TO TORONTO FROM
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND WHERE
THEY WERE BORN AND RAISED,
BUT EVERY SUMMER
THEY PACKED UP THE CAR
AND WENT BACK DOWN
FOR THEIR SUMMER VACATION TO
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
TO VISIT FAMILY AND FRIENDS,
AND THIS WAS A FEW YEARS
INTO THEIR MARRIAGE,
AND THEY HAD THREE
LITTLE GIRLS WITH THEM.
THIS SUMMER THAT THEY
HAD SET OUT ON THEIR,
ON THEIR ANNUAL VISIT,
UM... THE THREE LITTLE GIRLS...
LINDA, GLENNA,
AND A LITTLE BABY NAMED GAIL,
SHE WAS FOUR MONTHS
AT THE TIME.
AND THEY, UH...
ON THEIR DRIVE DOWN,
TOWARD THE END OF
THE FIRST DAY DRIVING,
WERE INVOLVED IN
A HEAD-ON COLLISION.
A HORRIBLE CRASH, AND, UM...
AS A CONSEQUENCE OF THAT,
IT TOOK...
IT WAS DRAWN OUT,
BUT AS A CONSEQUENCE OF THAT,
THE BABY, GAIL, DIED.

Nam says YOU PAINT THIS
PICTURE IN THE BOOK WHERE,
BECAUSE YOUR PARENTS ARE
ALSO INJURED IN THIS ACCIDENT,
AND THEY'RE TRYING TO
BE BY THEIR DAUGHTER'S SIDE.
AND WE ACTUALLY HAVE
A PHOTO OF YOUR PARENTS
AFTER THE ACCIDENT, AND IT
WAS TAKEN DURING GAIL'S GALL...
GAIL'S FUNERAL WITH
YOUR PARENTS AND TWO SISTERS.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST BEGIN
TO UNDERSTAND THE STORY
OF HOW YOU WERE BORN,
OF YOUR BIRTH?

A black and white picture shows a young woman helping a young man walk in crutches.
In another picture, at a funeral, the young couple peers into a small casket on a table. The father holds a baby in his arms and a girl stands next to the mother.

Gail says WELL, IT'S JUST AMONG
MY EARLIEST MEMORIES.
SO, HOWEVER, YOU KNOW, WHEN...
IN MY MIND, I MUST HAVE BEEN
ABOUT THREE YEARS OLD OR SO
WHEN I FIRST REMEMBER, CLEARLY,
MY MOTHER RECOUNTING
THIS STORY TO ME,
AND WHAT WAS IMPORTANT
ABOUT IT WAS THAT SHE...
SHE PRESENTED IT AS THOUGH
I WASN'T SIMPLY A SUBSTITUTE
FOR THE BABY THAT DIED,
I WAS THAT SAME BABY.
MY MOTHER WAS DEVOUTLY RELIGIOUS
AND HAD BEEN RAISED
TO BELIEVE IN MIRACLES
AND THE POWER OF PRAYER,
AND SHE WAS DEVOUTLY RELIGIOUS,
SHE ALSO WAS OVERCOME
WITH SUCH A KIND OF MAD GRIEF,
I WOULD SAY,
AND PRAYED SO FERVENTLY,
SHE WAS CONVINCED,
WHEN SHE BECAME PREGNANT
WITHIN A COUPLE OF MONTHS OF
LOSING THAT BABY THAT THAT SAME
BABY WAS COMING BACK TO HER.
SO, SHE BELIEVED THAT,
AND NINE MONTHS
LATER I WAS BORN.
I WAS IDENTICAL,
I WEIGHED THE SAME EXACTLY,
AND, ON TOP OF THAT,
SHE HAD NO LABOUR PAIN
DURING MY DELIVERY.

Nam says IT WAS INTERESTING THAT
THE SAME POUNDS AND OUNCES SAME
AND SO SHE GAVE YOU GAIL'S NAME.

Gail says YEAH.
I THINK IN MY
SIMPLISTIC CHILD BRAIN,
CERTAINLY SHE THOUGHT I WAS...
I HAD BEEN REBORN AS A...
IN ANSWER TO HER PRAYERS,
AND I CERTAINLY
BELIEVED IT, TOO,
BECAUSE, YOU KNOW.

Nam says YOU WROTE "I BEGAN TO WONDER
IF I HAD BEEN BORN AGAIN
IN ORDER TO FULFIL
SOME DIVINE PURPOSE."
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THAT FEELING?

Gail says MM, YOU KNOW, I THINK IN,
IN THE EARLIEST DAYS OF... OR YEARS,
I THINK I JUST REVELLED IN
MY MOTHER'S LOVE
AND IN THIS BLESSED FEELING
THAT I HAD BEEN BROUGHT BACK
FROM THE DEAD FOR MY MOTHER
AND THAT I WAS...
THIS HAD HAPPENED TO ME
AND HOW SPECIAL IS THAT,
AND I THINK IT WASN'T
UNTIL I THINK I WAS PROBABLY
FIVE OR SIX YEARS OLD
THAT I STARTED TO BECOME
A LITTLE ANXIOUS THAT PERHAPS
THERE WERE STRINGS ATTACHED
AND I THINK IT WAS
PROBABLY WATCHING
THE SONG OF BERNADETTE
ON TELEVISION.
IT WAS A VERY CATHOLIC FAMILY,
AND SO,
THE SONG OF BERNADETTE,
ABOUT A CHILD WHO'S...
THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
APPEARS TO HER,
AND WHEN THE BLESSED
VIRGIN MARY APPEARS TO SOMEBODY,
IT SEEMS,
AND THEY BECOME A SAINT,
THEN USUALLY THEY'RE LIFE GOES
DOWNHILL FROM THE OUTSIDE,
ANYWAYS, THAT'S HOW IT LOOKS,
AND I BECAME VERY ANXIOUS,
AND I GOT IT IN MY HEAD QUITE
FAIRLY EARLY THAT
I WAS PROBABLY...
HAD BEEN BROUGHT
BACK IN ORDER TO...
DO SOMETHING SPECIAL.
I HAD TO DO SOMETHING,
'CAUSE I KNEW THAT BABIES DIED
ALL AROUND THE WORLD
AND WEREN'T
BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE.

Nam says SO, YOU WERE UNIQUE.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Gail says SO, WHY WAS...
YEAH, SO, WHY WAS
I BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE?
AND I FELT, I THINK, I FELT,
I DON'T WANT TO SAY,
AT THAT POINT, "UNWORTHY,"
BUT IT WAS JUST THAT THE...
JUST THE BEGINNINGS
OF SELF-DOUBT.
IF I WAS IN FACT THE OTHER GAIL,
SHE DIED
AT FIVE MONTHS OLD, YOU KNOW,
AND IN MY CATHOLIC IMAGINATION,
SHE WOULD HAVE DIED PERFECT,
INNOCENT,
THE TRUE OBJECT
OF MY MOTHER'S LOVE.
AN ANGEL.
AND SO, THE STRINGS
ATTACHED WAS THAT I HAD TO...
MY LIFE HAD TO BE
CONTINUOUS WITH THAT,
I HAD TO BE THAT.
IF I WAS GONNA
BE THAT SAME PERSON,
THEN I HAD TO TRY TO
FIGURE OUT HOW TO BE PERFECT.

NAM SAYS AND TO BE WITHOUT SIN,
AS A PERSON, WHICH IS, YOU KNOW.
HERE'S A PHOTO OF YOUR FIRST
COMMUNION, IT'S ON THE SCREEN.
YOUR MOTHER'S DEVOUT CATHOLICISM
PLAYED A BIG ROLE
IN YOUR EARLY LIFE.
WHAT WAS THAT LIKE FOR YOU?

A black and white picture shows a little girl in a white dress, with white gloves and a tulle headpiece holding her hands together in prayer.

Gail says IN OUR HOUSE, BACK IN
THE LATE '50S, EARLY '60S,
IT WAS SATURATED WITH
CATHOLICISM IN A... I...
YOU KNOW, RELIGIOUS,
YOU KNOW, STATUES, AND PICTURES,
AND WE HAD ROSARIES.
WE HAD HOLY WATER
FONTS IN THE BEDROOMS.
AND THEN, OF COURSE,
WE WENT TO MASS EVERY SUNDAY
AND IT WAS CANDLES
AND INCENSE AND STATUES,
AND, YOU KNOW, PRAYERS
AND ALL...
IT WAS A MAGICAL WORLD.
I MEAN, I...
IT WAS A... WORLD
FILLED WITH IMAGI...
I DON'T WANT TO SAY
"IMAGINARY PEOPLE,"
THAT'S LOADED,
BUT WHAT I MEAN TO SAY IS,
INVISIBLE WORLD
OF ANGELS AND SAINTS,
AND GOD AND JESUS
AND THE HOLY GHOST
AND THE VIRGIN MARY,
AND IT FELT, YOU KNOW,
IN A CHILD'S IMAGINATION,
CATHOLICISM FOR ME WAS,
IT A VERY RICH
AND AMAZING EXPERIENCE,
ALTHOUGH, OF COURSE,
IT HAD THIS, ALWAYS HAD
A DARK SIDE, YOU KNOW?
YOU HAD THE STATIONS OF THE
CROSS WRAPPED AROUND THE WALLS
OF THE INTERIOR
OF THE CHURCH WITH
JESUS, BASICALLY,
KIND OF BEING SLOWLY TORTURED
AND YOU KNOW ABUSED
AND HANGING FROM THE CROSS IN A,
YOU KNOW, IN A LITTLE,
YOU KNOW, LOIN CLOTH.
SO, THERE'S STRANGE
KINDS OF DARK SIDE.

Nam says AND I'M ASSUMING AS YOU GET
OLDER YOU START TO QUESTION
THIS OTHER DARK SIDE,
BECAUSE AS A CHILD, MAYBE IT IS,
LIKE YOU SAID, IT'S MAGICAL.
HOW DID YOUR
RELATIONSHIP WITH CATHOLICISM
CHANGE AS YOU BECAME OLDER?

Gail says IT TOOK A WHILE, BECAUSE,
FIRST, BECAUSE I WAS
A FERVENT BELIEVER,
AND, YOU KNOW,
I PRAYED FERVENTLY.
I, WHEN I WAS,
LIKE, 12 YEARS OLD
I WAS RIDING MY BIKE TO
DAILY MASS IN THE SUMMER,
AND I HAD ALREADY TOLD MY
MOTHER I WAS GONNA BE A NUN,
AND, I YOU KNOW,
I FULLY EMBRACED...
MY RELIGION,
AND I THINK WHAT HA...
THINGS CAME TO A BIT OF A,
YOU KNOW, THE INITIAL CRASH
WAS JUST TURNING 13,
AND SUDDENLY, YOU COULD SAY,
I WAS EVEN A LITTLE
LATE DISCOVERING BOYS.
THE STUMBLING BLOCK WAS,
WAS, UH... SEX, I'M AFRAID,
BECAUSE...
AND, THIS IS, YOU KNOW,
PART OF BEING CATHOLIC,
YOU KNOW.
THERE'S STRONG
PROHIBITION AGAINST,
YOU KNOW, PREMARITAL,
FOR INSTANCE, SEX, AND, UH...
SO, WHEN I FIRST
DISCOVERED BOYS,
MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY MOTHER
SUDDENLY TOOK THIS KIND OF
NASTY TURN WHEN I REALIZED
HOW MUCH THAT BOTHERED HER,
THAT I WOULD START TO BE,
YOU KNOW,
AS THE 13 YEAR OLD GIRLS ARE,
LIKE...

She gestures quotes and says
"BOY CRAZY"...

She continues AND THEN...
OR AT LEAST SOME OF THEM...
AND THEN AT 16
I HAD MY FIRST BOYFRIEND,
AND THEN THINGS
REALLY CRASHED, AND I THINK
THAT COMBINED WITH
THIS GROWING SENSE OF...
THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE CHURCH,
THESE THINGS STARTED
TO COME TOGETHER,
BUT YOU KNOW, MY...
AND, OF COURSE,
BECOMING A NUN BECAME A LOT
LESS ATTRACTIVE,
AND THIS WAS, YOU KNOW,
PAINFUL, AND MY MOTHER...

Nam says IT WAS A DISAPPOINTMENT
TO YOUR MOTHER.

Gail says IT SEEMED
A PROFOUND DISAPPOINTMENT.
THAT'S WHEN I REALIZED
SHE'D TAKEN ME SERIOUSLY,
AND I REMEMBER, I MEAN,
ONE OF THE WORST MOMENTS
WAS HER CATCHING ME,
YOU KNOW, NECKING,
WHICH I'M NOT SURE THEY
USE THAT PHRASE ANYMORE,
YOU KNOW, WITH
MY BOYFRIEND AT 16 AND JUST,
LIKE, SPITTING THE,
LIKE, IT WAS A HORRIBLE MOMENT.
"AND WE THOUGHT
YOU WERE GOING TO BE A NUN,"
AND IT WAS...
IT WAS LIKE A KNIFE TO MY HEART,
BECAUSE I SUDDENLY FELT,
AFTER TRYING TO BE SO MUCH
TO MY MOTHER, IN THAT MOMENT
I FELT LIKE I'D SOMEHOW
COMPLETELY BETRAYED HER,
AND ALSO BETRAYED
MY DIVINE DESTINY,
WHICH I STILL DEEP DOWN THOUGHT
WAS SUPPOSED TO BE SOME
KIND OF SAINTHOOD OR,
YOU KNOW, SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

The caption changes to "Gail Gallant, @GailGallant1."

Gail continues BECAUSE IT'S KIND OF HARD
TO COMPETE WITH AN ANGEL,

Nam says BECAUSE THAT'S ESSENTIALLY
WHAT YOU WERE KIND OF DOING,
BECAUSE DURING THIS TIME,
TOO, YOU HAD A JOURNAL,
AND I THINK YOU ALSO
SPOKE TO THE OTHER GAIL?

The caption changes to "Protector or rival."

Gail says WELL, IT WAS...
IT WASN'T, YOU KNOW,
KIND OF AUDIO SPEAKING,
BUT CERTAINLY,
IN MY EARLY YEARS
I MADE NO DISTINCTION BETWEEN...
I FELT LIKE THE CONTINUATION
OF THE "OTHER GAIL,"
I CALLED HER THE "OTHER GAIL."
SO, SHE WAS ME
BEFORE THE ACCIDENT,
I WAS HER AFTER THE ACCIDENT,
YOU COULD PUT IT THAT WAY.
SO, WE WERE CONTINUOUS.
IT WASN'T UNTIL I WAS ABOUT
12 YEARS OLD THAT I STARTED
IMAGINING HER AND IT WAS QUITE
A SHIFT AS A KIND OF A GHOST
WHO WAS A YEAR OLDER THAN ME,
LOOKED EXACTLY LIKE ME,
BUT SHE WAS A YEAR OLDER
AND SHE WAS AN INCH TALLER.
FOR SOME REASON
THAT WAS IMPORTANT,
AND SHE LIVED UNDER MY BED,
AND SO I THOUGHT ABOUT HER A LOT
WHEN I WAS AWAY FROM THE HOUSE
THAT SHE WAS WAITING FOR ME
AND I USED TO LOOK THROUGH
THE SEARS CATALOGUE FOR CLOTHES.
IT WAS A SECRET,
IT WAS MY SECRET,
BUT AT THAT POINT
I'D CLEARLY DIS...
SEPARATED US SOMEHOW,
SO THAT SHE WAS
LIKE MY DOPPELGANGER.
SHE WAS LIKE A TEENAGE GHOST,
AND... AND SO,
I WAS NO LONGER QUITE HER.
WE WERE KIND OF COEXISTING,
BUT IN DIFFERENT DIMENSIONS.

NAM SAYS AND SHE WAS THERE!

Gail says SHE WAS THERE,
AND THEN GRADUALLY, YEAH, I...
YOU KNOW, I WENT
THROUGH DIFFERENT PHASES.
THERE WERE OTHER PHASES
WHERE I THOUGHT,
I IMAGINED HER TO BE A...
WELL, AN ANGEL IN HEAVEN
LOOKING DOWN ON ME,
AND I USED TO, YEAH,
I USED TO,
LATER IN MY TEEN YEARS,
MY JOURNAL ENTRIES
WERE ALL "DEAR GAIL,"
AND I FELT... I WAS ASKED...
I TREATED HER LIKE
AN AGONY AUNT.
WHAT SHOULD I DO, YOU KNOW?

Nam says WHY WAS IT DIFFICULT
FOR YOU TO LEARN HOW TO DRIVE?

Gail says WELL, BECAUSE, YEAH,
BECAUSE I'D FELT THAT
I'D DIED IN A CAR ACCIDENT.
SO, YEAH, I MEAN...
UM... IT...
SOMETIMES, I MEAN, MY MOTHER
HAD PRESENTED IT LIKE A MIRACLE,
AND THIS IS VERY
DIFFERENT FROM REINCARNATION.
IT'S A MIRACLE,
IT'S LIKE SOMETHING...
IT JUST DOESN'T HAPPEN
BECAUSE OF, YOU KNOW,
THERE'S REINCARNATION EXISTS.
THIS ONE, THAT ONE
PERSON IS GOING TO BE
BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE,
KIND OF LIKE LAZARUS,
BUT THERE WAS A POINT IN MY
EARLY TWENTIES WHERE I TRIED
TO THINK ABOUT IT DIFFERENTLY
AND I STARTED TO THINK ABOUT IT
AS REINCARNATION,
WHICH SEEMED MORE NEUTRAL TO ME,
IT DIDN'T SEEM LIKE
IT HAD AS MUCH OF A,
A BURDEN OF OBLIGATION,
YOU KNOW?
LIKE, IT'S NOT MY FAULT
I WAS REINCARNATED.
THAT COULD HAPPEN
TO ANYONE, YOU KNOW?
THERE WAS JUST A TIME
WHEN REINCARNATION WAS
FLOATING AROUND, EASTERN IDEAS.
SO, I FELT MORE AT THAT POINT
THAT I MUST HAVE
BEEN REINCARNATED.
SO, THERE WASN'T THIS...
I DIDN'T FEEL QUITE THE SAME
BURDEN TO BE
A SAINT AT THAT POINT,
BUT I DID FEEL THAT I MUST HAVE
BEEN HUGELY SCARRED BY BEING
IN A HIDEOUS CAR ACCIDENT
AND BREAKING MY HEAD AGAINST
THE DASHBOARD, AND, SO, YEAH.
SO, I WOULD DRIVE WITH
ONE HAND ON THE, YOU KNOW,
WHATEVER I COULD,
AND I COULDN'T...
IT WAS A WHILE BEFORE
I COULD GET MY DRIVER'S LICENSE
BECAUSE I WAS SO FREAKED OUT.

Nam says AND YOU HAD SIBLINGS,
WE'VE MENTIONED YOUR SISTERS.
WE ACTUALLY HAVE
A PICTURE OF YOUR MOM
WITH YOUR TWO OLDER SISTERS.
WHAT DID YOUR SISTERS THINK
OF ALL THIS? LINDA AND GLENNA.

In a black and white picture, a dark-haired young woman poses with three girls.

Gail says YEAH. WELL, YOU KNOW,
I'M NOT SURE IN
THOSE EARLY YEARS,
WHETHER THEY LITERALLY ALSO
THOUGHT I WAS THE OTHER GAIL.
I KNOW THEY THOUGHT
MY MOTHER THOUGHT IT,
BUT I THINK WHAT THEY THOUGHT,
MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE,
WAS THAT I WAS GETTING
A COMPLETELY DISPROPORTIONATE
AMOUNT OF MY MOTHER'S ATTENTION,
AND IT WASN'T CLEAR TO THEM
HOW I DESERVED THAT, YOU KNOW?
MY ELDEST SISTER, I THINK,
STILL MANAGED TO HOLD IT
TOGETHER 'CAUSE SHE WAS
THE ELDEST IN THE FAMILY,
SHE WAS, KIND OF, YOU KNOW,
MY DAD'S FIRST BORN AND SHE,
SHE TRIED TO BE WELL-BEHAVED,
PERFECT LITTLE ADULT CHILD
THE WAY ELDEST CHILDREN OFTEN DO
AND SO SHE KIND OF
GOT BY LIKE THAT,
BUT MY SISTER WHO WAS JUST
A FEW YEARS OLDER THAN ME,
I THINK SHE WAS, AT THAT TIME,
AT THE TIME JUST AFTER THE CAR
ACCIDENT, AFTER MY BIRTH,
SHE WAS THE MIDDLE CHILD,
AND I THINK SHE WAS NEGLECTED,
AND SHE WAS,
YOU KNOW, RESENTFUL.
SHE HAD A LOT OF
IMAGINARY FRIENDS TO TRY TO
MAKE UP FOR IT I THINK.
WHEN SHE WAS A SMALL CHILD
SHE WAS PRETTY QUIRKY,
AND, UM...
AND IN HER EARLY YEARS
I THINK SHE REALLY QUITE
RESENTED ME, AND SHE WAS...

Nam says I FIND IT SO INTERESTING
THAT IT WAS ONLY LATER ON THAT
THE CONVERSATION CAME UP.
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT
NO ONE EVER SPOKE ABOUT,
KIND OF, LIKE, ESSENTIALLY,
THE GHOST IN THE ROOM?

Gail says YOU KNOW, I... CERTAINLY MY
MOTHER GRADUALLY...
SHE USED TO TALK ABOUT
THE ACCIDENT, THE DEATH,
AND MY BIRTH TO ME MANY
TIMES WHEN I WAS YOUNGER,
AND I THINK
AT SOME POINT AROUND,
I MUST HAVE BEEN,
WHEN I WAS IN...
IT WAS SOMEWHERE BETWEEN
THE AGES, I WOULD SAY,
SIX AND TWELVE,
YOU KNOW, THINGS...
IT GRADUALLY DROPPED
RIGHT OFF, AND SHE...
I NEVER TALKED ABOUT IT
WITH ANYONE ELSE BUT HER.
SHE WAS THE ONLY ONE
WHO RAISED IT WITH ME,
AND IT STARTED DROPPING RIGHT
OFF, AND THEN IT JUST BECAME
THIS KIND OF SECRET HISTORY.
WHY IT HAPPENED, I THINK,
I HAVE IDEAS IN RETROSPECT.
I THINK, IN RETROSPECT,
I HONESTLY BELIEVE THAT
SHE HAD BEEN IN
SUCH ENORMOUS PAIN
THAT SHE COULDN'T STAND IT.
I REALLY THINK SHE WAS IN A KIND
OF MADNESS WHEN I WAS BORN
AND CONVINCED HERSELF,
OR WAS CONVINCED WITH SOME
REASON TO IT, MAYBE, THAT I WAS,
THAT HER BABY HAD BEEN
BROUGHT BACK TO HER.
THAT SHE NEVER LOST
HER BABY AFTER ALL.

Nam says BUT IN THE MEANTIME, THOUGH,
YOU SPENT A LOT OF TIME TRYING
TO PLEASE YOUR MOTHER,
AND YOU SUFFERED ANXIETY
THAT YOU LEARNED TO COVER UP.
HOW MUCH OF THIS, YOU KNOW,
TRYING TO PLEASE HER,
THE EXPECTATIONS,
HOW MUCH OF THAT WAS YOUR MOTHER
AND HOW MUCH OF IT
WAS THE PRESSURE
THAT YOU PUT ON YOURSELF?

The caption changes to "High expectations."

Gail says WELL, YOU KNOW, I FELT THAT IT...
I FELT THAT I HAD
TO BE THAT WAY.
I HAD TO EXCEL.
YOU KNOW, I...
IF YOU'D ASKED ME AT
THE AGE OF, YOU KNOW, 18,
WHY I FELT THAT
I HAD TO BE SUCH A WAY,
OR, EVEN AT THE AGE OF
12 OR AT THE AGE OF 25,
WHY IT WAS SO
IMPORTANT TO ME TO GET,
LIKE, STRAIGHT A'S OR,
I MEAN, BECAUSE BY THEN IT HAD
CONVERTED FROM BEING A SAINT
TO BEING A SCHOLAR.
YOU KNOW, I WAS TRYING TO GO
THAT ROUTE, WHICH ALSO
SEEMED TO IMPRESS MY MOTHER.
SO, UM...
I JUST WASN'T VERY SELF-CRITICAL
AT THE TIME IN RETROSPECT,
AND GRADUALLY I REALIZED
THAT I BLAMED HER,
THAT I FELT THAT IT WAS
THE PRESSURE SHE HAD PUT ON ME,
BECAUSE I WAS FEELING I HAD
TO LIVE UP TO SOME EXPECTATION
BECAUSE OF THIS SUBSTITUTION
I FELT THAT I HAD BEEN FORCED TO
TRY AND MAKE UP FOR, OR SOMEHOW
REVERSE THIS HORRIBLE PAIN
THAT HAD HAPPENED TO HER,
BUT THEN GRADUALLY
I BLAMED MYSELF,
BECAUSE FINALLY, I WANTED TO BE
THAT SPECIAL PERSON FOR HER.

Nam says BUT YOU WERE
SO HARD ON YOURSELF.

Gail says WELL, I THINK PEOPLE ARE.
YEAH, SO.

Nam says I HAVE A PICTURE OF YOU AND YOUR
DAD AT A FATHER DAUGHTER DANCE.
WHAT WAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH
YOUR FATHER LIKE?

In a grainy colour picture, a teenage Gail with long wavy chestnut hair poses with a clean-shaven man in a suit.

Gail says WELL, HE, MY DAD AS QUITE,
VERY RESERVED
AND KIND OF ABSENT GOING
THROUGH A LOT OF OUR CHILDHOOD
AND TEEN YEARS IN
THE SENSE THAT HE WAS, LIKE,
WORKING SIX HOUR DAYS.
WE ENDED UP IN A FAMILY
OF SEVEN CHILDREN,
AND HE WORKED, YOU KNOW,
HAD A KIND OF GRUELLING
WORK LIFE ALL THROUGH THAT TIME,
AND MY MOTHER COMPLETELY
DOMINATED THE FAMILY.
SHE WAS QUITE
A DISCIPLINARIAN,
SHE WAS THE BOSS OF
THE FAMILY HANDS DOWN.
SHE KEPT EVERYONE...
SHE WAS VERY MORALISTIC
AND MY DAD WAS KIND OF
A WEEKEND DRINKER,
AND THAT WAS...
SO, HE WAS IN
THE DOGHOUSE EVERY WEEKEND.
AND I GUESS, TRYING TO MAKE UP
FOR IT THROUGH THE WEEK.
AND WE... I EMBRACED THAT IMAGE
OF MY DAD,
THAT HE WAS WEAK.
YOU KNOW, I THINK
WE HAD THE SENSE THAT,
BECAUSE MY MOTHER HAD
BEEN EDUCATED IN A CONVENT,
A RESIDENTIAL CONVENT SCHOOL
RUN BY NUNS BECAUSE HER MOTHER
DIED AT A YOUNG AGE,
AND SHE WAS PUT IN THIS
RESIDENTIAL CONVENT SCHOOL.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Nam says BY HER DAD?

Gail says YES, AND WE WERE...
I JUST INTERNALIZED
THIS IDEA THAT WOMEN HAVE TO BE
THE STRONG ONES AND THAT
MEN HAVE THESE WEAKNESSES
LIKE DRINK, ETCETERA.

Nam says DO YOU THINK YOUR DAD
RESENTED YOUR MOTHER?

Gail says I THINK HE RESENTED
NATURALLY HOW HARD
HE HAD TO WORK,
YOU KNOW,
BECAUSE OF ALL THESE KIDS,
AND HE WAS
THE SOLE BREAD EARNER,
AND HE WAS SO
STRESSED OUT IN THAT.
AND HE WOULD LIKE TO HAVE
BEEN ABLE TO HAVE A BUNCH
OF BEERS ON THE WEEKEND
AND HE COULDN'T DO IT WITHOUT
QUITE A LOT OF GRIEF,
AND HE RESENTED THAT.
YEAH, AND I THINK IT
MADE HIM DRINK MORE, ACTUALLY,
BUT HOW MY RELATIONSHIP WAS
WITH MY DAD DURING THAT TIME?
NOT VERY GOOD. NO.

Nam says WELL, YOU WRITE IN THE BOOK, "MY
LIFE HAD BEEN MARKED BY FEAR
OF RISK, FEAR OF CHAOS,
FEAR OF BEING DIFFERENT."

Gail says WHAT ROLE HAS FEAR
PLAYED IN YOUR LIFE?
UM... HMM.
UH...
JUST HUGE.
SAD TO SAY, YOU KNOW,
BECAUSE, UM...
I WOULD SAY THAT I WAS FEARFUL,
LIKE, FROM MY, FROM SOME
OF MY EARLIEST MEMORIES.
FEARFUL THAT I WAS
GOING TO DIE AGAIN,
FOR ONE THING, YOU KNOW,
WHICH IS SILLY.
YOU WOULD THINK MAYBE THAT I
WOULD HAVE BEEN FEARFUL,
THAT I WOULD HAVE FELT STRONGER
BECAUSE I'D DIED
AND COME BACK TO LIFE, NO,
SOMEHOW THE OPPOSITE.
AND I HAD A REAL VIVID
IMAGINATION FOR HORRORS,
YOU KNOW, THINGS LIKE WAR.
I MEAN, THINGS HAPPENING
AROUND THE WORLD,
AND I HAD THIS VERY
STRONG SENSE
OF DISASTER, SO THERE WAS THAT.
BUT I WAS ALSO SO FEARFUL THAT
I WAS GONNA LET MY MOTHER DOWN.
I MEAN, I DON'T KNOW,
YOU KNOW, WHAT WAS WORSE.
THE IDEA THAT
I WAS GONNA LET GOD DOWN,
I WAS GONNA LET MY MOTHER DOWN.
I'M NOT SURE I WOULD HAVE BEEN
ABLE TO FIGURE OUT
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
THOSE TWO FEARS.

Nam says YOU HAD THIS REALLY,
I GUESS, PIVOTAL CONVERSATION
WITH YOUR MOTHER.
SHE BECAME ILL,
AND BEFORE SHE DIED,
THE TWO OF YOU WENT ON A WALK.
WHAT DID YOUR MOTHER
SAY TO YOU ON THAT WALK?

The caption changes to "Moving on and getting over."

Gail says SHE TOLD ME A STORY
I'D NEVER HEARD BEFORE,
BECAUSE I'D HEARD VERY
LITTLE ABOUT HER MOTHER,
BECAUSE HER MOTHER DIED WHEN SHE
WAS EIGHT YEARS OLD. SHE SAID...
SHE TOLD ME THIS STORY
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE, YOU KNOW,
THE DEPRESSION, THEY WERE
VERY POOR, RURAL POVERTY,
IN PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND,
AND THEY WERE...
HER MOTHER HAD EIGHT CHILDREN.
SHE WAS THE SECOND YOUNGEST
AND THE ONLY GIRL,
AND SHE WAS MANAGING
TO FEED THE FAMILY
FROM THEIR OWN GARDEN,
AND IT WAS SCRAPING,
YOU KNOW, ALL THE TIME,
JUST TO HAVE ENOUGH FOOD,
AND HER FATHER,
SHE TALKED ABOUT HER FATHER.
HOW AFRAID EVERYONE IN
THE FAMILY WAS OF THE FATHER.
HE WAS SO...
HE WAS VERY DOMINEERING,
HE WAS HARD DRINKING,
HE WAS SIX FOOT FOUR
AND VERY KIND OF,
PHYSICALLY DOMINANT,
AND HE WAS,
IT WAS TOWARDS DINNERTIME,
AND SHE'D LAID OUT PLATES
FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY,
FOOD ON THE TABLE FOR DINNER,
AND HER HUSBAND,
MY MOTHER'S DAD,
GOT HOME IN A TERRIBLE MOOD,
TERRIBLE FIT BECAUSE HE'D...
HE WAS ANGRY AT TWO
OF THE BOYS, AND HAD...
YELLING AT THEM,
AND HE TOOK HOLD OF THE TABLE,
IT WAS COMPLETELY SET
WITH ALL THE PLATES,
WITH ALL THE FOOD
FOR THE DINNER.
AND HE JUST FLIPPED IT,
AND SHE WAS TELLING ME THIS.
SHE WAS SO FAR
ADVANCED IN HER CANCER
THAT SHE COULD BARELY WALK,
BUT SHE SOMEHOW
WANTED TO TELL ME THIS.
SHE SAID HER MEMORY WAS
OF THE FOOD AND THE PLATES
FLYING EVERYWHERE,
CRASHING DOWN,
AND HER MOTHER,
THIS HORRIBLE KIND OF CRY OUT
AND THEN FALL ON HER KNEES,
STARTS SCRAPING THE FOOD
OFF THE FLOOR
AND OFF THE BROKEN PLATES
JUST DESPERATELY
TRYING TO SALVAGE THE MEAL,
NOT SAYING A WORD,
AND MY MOTHER SAID,
"I REMEMBERED SUCH
ANGER AT MY MOTHER THAT SHE
NEVER OPENED HER MOUTH,"
BUT SHE REALIZED MY MOTHER
WAS AFRAID AND SHE SAID,
"MY FATHER LOVED US,
BUT HE TRIED TO CONTROL US
WITH HIS ANGER."
HE... AND, SHE SAID,
"I'VE REALIZED THROUGH MY LIFE
I'VE DONE THAT, TOO,
AND I REALIZE THAT...
OFTEN IT MAKES
EVERYTHING WORSE."
AND SHE DIDN'T LITERALLY SAY,
"I'M SORRY I TRIED TO CONTROL
YOU AND MY OTHER
CHILDREN THE WAY I DID."
SHE DIDN'T HAVE TO SAY THAT.
I KNOW THAT'S
WHAT SHE WAS SAYING.

Nam says AND SHE ALSO SAID SHE
LOVED YOU FOR THE FIRST TIME?

Gail says WELL, I ACTUALLY DON'T
REMEMBER WHO SAID IT FIRST,
BUT I MEAN, YEAH,
WHEN SHE WAS DYING,
AND BY THIS TIME
I WAS IN MY EARLY FORTIES.
AND WE, YEAH, WE WERE SAYING
THAT WE LOVED EACH OTHER
FOR THE FIRST TIME.
IT WAS VERY POWERFUL.
I THINK THAT...
I THINK THERE WERE OTHER
MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY WHO FELT
THE SAME WAY, CLOSER TO HER
FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME,
AND, UM, YEAH.
SO, THE TIMING
WAS GOOD FOR THAT.

The caption changes to "Producer: Carla Lucchetta, @carrletta."

Nam says WE'VE RUN OUT OF TIME, GAIL.
(LAUGHING)
YOUR WRITING IS SO BEAUTIFUL,
AND WHAT A STORY.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING
BRAVE ENOUGH TO WRITE THIS.
WE APPRECIATE YOUR TIME.

Gail says OH, THANK YOU SO MUCH.
IT WAS A GREAT PLEASURE.

Watch: Gail Gallant: Living with My Sister's Ghost