I didn’t want to start this one like I did two years ago but man… I cannot believe it has been three years since we lost you. So much as happened in the last two years, since my last letter.
It’s December so you are on all of our minds. We can’t help it. Yvon celebrated his 80th birthday on Monday. Without you, who shared the same birth date. Actually, we had a supper for him on Sunday, at the same place where you surprised me for my 50th. There were 24 of us in all and he was quite surprised.
Speaking of Yvon, he had a major stroke in May 2016. At the time, I couldn’t help thinking of how you would have handled it. I pictured you going to visit him at the hospital a couple times per week, even though it was in Ste-Adèle. I could see you being there, encouraging him to work to make his left side function again. I could imagine you freaking out and saying things like: “There is no way I would want to live like”, that yet you wouldn’t give up on him. We finally moved Mom and Yvon to Varennes so we can be there to help out. It is exhausting on “Mo” as she is his primary caregiver. He can’t do much without her help. I’m sure you’d do your share without a word of complaint.
I’ve gotten ahead of myself. I mentioned to you that I would take the boys to Cuba and I did. We went to Holguìn in March, 2016, which is far from Havana, so we couldn’t go visit it, but also far from the “Los Tabarnacos” I wanted to avoid. Plus, I ensured we would not have to spend too much time with the Spring Breakers so the boys ended up missing two weeks of school. We left on the Thursday of the Spring Break, returning on the following Wednesday. They obviously did not complain. I tell ya. Was very special to have a week’s vacation with the boys. We had a huge suite – one room for the boys including two double beds, a bathroom, TV, mini bar; a living-room-type area, including full bathroom, TV, mini bar and my room with a queen-sized bed, full bathroom, TV and mini-bar. I swear, we were so pleasantly surprised! As Iain was going to be 18 only at the end of the month, he managed to finagle himself an adult bracelet so he could enjoy himself without my help. Aidan, on the other hand, was supplied by both me and Iain (what a bad mom, allowing a 16-year-old to drink).
Iain turned 18 on the last day of March and we all got together for supper at your favourite Barbù – where Iain was working part-time as a cook.
Some time in March, I got a call from François L. – remember him? I used to work with him at Corby, then with François B. at Elixirs. Anyway, he had moved back from Val d’Or where he’d been living for the past 4-5 years and was now in Boucherville. He also had become manager of the restaurant in a private golf club and would I be interested in working as a waitress. I told him I had never done that before and he said it was not a problem, that they would teach me the how-tos. Well. Why the hell not? I was not getting that much business catering the family meals and was now considering what my next move was. Couldn’t live off what was left of Mick Design for much longer so the timing was perfect. Holy crap. Turns out I’m a natural at this waitressing gig and the members and staff took a liking to me. And man. Was great for my arse. I was walking it off. 11 lbs to be exact! The only thing that was not so fabulous, was I felt I was abandoning the boys by not being home for supper 4-5 nights per week.
Iain graduated from high school in June. He’s a funny guy. He was zero interested in going to his prom but he felt it was very important to go to his graduation ceremonies. It was nice to watch him walk up, wearing his gown and mortar board, all serious. What he wouldn’t have given to have you there… Since graduating, he has been working full time for a company called Moderco – so funny, on his first day, he texted me telling me that he must have your genes as he’s a natural! He has now decided that he no longer wants to go into the Military to learn electricity (thank God) but in February of this year, he will be applying at Pierre Dupuy as he wants to return full-time and get his electricity degree. Fingers crossed he gets in.
In September, 2016, my dream came true. It was beyond bittersweet as you were not there. I finally went to Tuscany. I dunno if it was on Facebook or Twitter or what, but I discovered “Cook in Tuscany” – Oh. Em. Gee. It’s like this was created just for me! I could just hear you saying something like: “No way would I spend that much for a week, blah, blah, blah….” I went anyway. It was PERFECT! I do not regret one single second of it. Not one. After my week with 13 other fantastic guests and the best hosts ever, Linda and George, I spent 9 days. All. By. Myself. I never thought I could do such a thing and not be lonely. Well, that’s not entirely true. You were on my mind during the whole thing. There is no one else I would have wanted to be there with me but you. I left the boys home alone with a bunch of food and instructions and frankly, I don’t even know if they realised I was not home… They are not the most demonstrative kids in the world. Definitely do NOT take after you or me on that one. All that to say, even though I had spent the day in Zug, Switzerland with a friend, arrived really late in Chiusi and stayed at a most fabulous B&B – I am now friends with Milena the owner, the moment I walked into my room, I burst into tears. A mix of joy and sadness and excitement and almost guilt that you weren’t there. I got over it and fell in love with the land. I absolutely will be returning. Oh man! How could I forget! I dunno if you had anything to do with it, but on my last day with my group, I heard my name being called. Pierre V. – right there in my little village! He is absolutely convinced you had a hand in it. I ended up spending the day with them two days later. Un-friggen-believable.
You know me. I took a gazillion pictures…
Sadly, end of January, Richard Phillie lost his battle with bone marrow cancer. I so remember the day Shihan announced to us in karate class that he had it. The survival rate is about 5 years and damnation, that’s about how long he lasted. Valérie stayed with him until the end. I was glad I was able to be there for her, lend an ear and encourage her. He was such a wonderful man and maybe he’s out there partying with you now.
I started dating. Ugh. Remember when I told you that I was gonna keep the devil I know (you!) rather than start all over and have to train a new one? Damn you, anyway for leaving me like this. That said, I tried various dating sites. I figured why not? I met you on Tele-Personals all those years ago. That ended up working out pretty darn good, you ask me. Well. Let’s just say that I did see a few that I sorta kinda dated for a bit – not enough to introduce to family and friends, mind you. Some of these guys became pretty good friends! Actually, the one I hung out with in Zug, Switzerland, name is Urs, was one of them. Christmas came and went, nothing much special, to tell the truth. I worked a day here and there over the winter until the Club opened up again full-time in May.
One of the guys I befriended, Jean-Louis, invited me to join him in Punta Cana for our birthdays in April. He said he was tired of travelling alone and would I keep him company – just friends, no strings, separate beds – and he offered to pay half. Well now. A week in the sun for $500? Count me in. It was nice. Someone to share meals with and keep company while taking in the rays. We did absolutely nothing besides go shopping one afternoon. The rest of the time was beach, eat, sleep. Felt kinda good!
But… I came home to this.
A pipe in the boys’ bathroom leaked causing damage in our beautiful dining room. Iain took my car to work and someone backed into it and drove off. The foundation cracked and water damage all across the carpeted floor – all has to be removed.
Oh friggen joy, oh bliss. The insurance covered the dining room – we now have a brand-new floor (since August only). I haven’t taken care of the car yet but Sébastien has given me the name of someone and the basement is not bloody covered. Sigh.
Aidan graduated in June 2017. He had some rough moments but all’s well that ends well! Check out the hair! Lordy! It’s all my fault. I told him he had Robert Plant hair and to let it grow. LOL.. Iain keeps calling him a bum. How we ended up with two such different guys is beyond me. Anyway, he has a part-time job at Subway, has been dating Willow for almost two years and is doing okay. He was too late to register for CEGEP for September but has since signed up to start in January. I am pleased.
Your mom was found unconscious in her apartment on June 28. She had fallen and knocked herself out and we have no idea how long she lay there before being found. Her friend Carole had been trying to reach her and finally go the superintendent to go check things out. As you know, she calls home pretty regularly but I don’t worry as she usually calls at least once per week. Well… she ended up in the Jewish General for two months. They have established that she is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. We ended up going to court to give her the chance to go back home. However, the ruling was that she had to allow the CLSC to go in three times per day to make sure she ate and took her meds and whatnot. The day she refused them entry, she would lose her rights. She lasted 5 days at home. The CLSC called on her, she refused to answser – you know what a hard-headed woman she is – they knocked on her door and she had a black eye, apparently from banging into a cupboard. They felt she looked dehydrated and convinced her to go back to the hospital where she was declared unfit to live on her own. So. Now I have inherited her. She, at least, had her papers in order and in 2014 named you and me mandators in case. She redid her mandate naming me and her friend Carole. Bloody hell. Carole lives in Ottawa. Thankfully Carole does not want to be a part of anything and has signed over her rights to me, so now I am in the process of waiting for all to be finalized so I can take care of her – financially. She has been in the Lev Tov Seniors Home in NDG for the past two months – though she thinks she’s only been there for a day or so. She keeps trying to escape and wants desperately to go home. The boys visited her and were finally able to see that, though she remembers us, there are holes in her memory. It is not easy.
We lost Matante Lucette in September. So friggen awful and I was asked by both Michel and my mom to speak at her funeral. I still can’t believe that Mom and Matante Nicole are all that are left in their family. Then Mononcle Faldora died, leaving behind three sisters and two brothers from a family of 15. Crazy when you think that in that gang, the youngest is going to be 79 and the oldest is going to be 90 yet in Mom’s family, both women are in their late 60’s and mid-70’s.
And then in October, our baby turned 18! Yowza! How can that be? The sisters, an uncle, some cousins, Grandmaman & Grandpapa, all got together to celebrate.
The last thing I want to tell you is that I have found love again. It is still very new, only since the beginning of October, but it feels right. Go figure. François works at the golf club! He is a retired prison guard, of all things, keeping himself busy by working in the practice fields of the club in the summers and doing renovations with a friend the rest of the time. He is well-liked by members and co-workers alike and, though this may sound weird, I think you’d like him. Like you, only not quite as fast, he was introduced to lots of family. He survived and thrived so I take that as a good sign. He even clicked with some of my high school friends! And our boys like him. I haven’t pushed anything and they haven’t criticized him so I’m thinking things are good. What is important to me, is he realises that you will always have a section of my heart and he respects that. He won’t do anything without asking first, and has admired everything you have created.
You’d definitely like to see what he has done to your garage! It is so neat! He is also extremely handy and has been working really hard to rip out the carpet in the basement. What a crappy job he has undertaken. That carpet glue is gross, stuck, needs to be scraped after being heated… awful job. Not only is he helping me with the house, he is helping me with your mother’s apartment. Oh. Em. Gee. We knew she was a hoarder but the situation is ridiculous. We have emptied bags and bags of trash and recycling and bags and bags of clothes to be donated and we are still not done. We have to have the place emptied by December 31.
This has turned out to be way longer than I ever expected, even though I knew I had so much to tell you. You will always have a place in all of our hearts. Tracy, Sébastien, their kids, and Lisa, Chris and their kids as well as so many of my cousins and extended family talk about you regularly. Your friends too. We don’t see Armen or André anymore and that’s what I expected to happen. There is no anger or anything like that; it’s just how things are. There is an occasional text with a “we should get together soon” and a reply that “yes, we should” and it sort of hangs there. Not anyone’s fault. You were the glue that kept it all together. Even between themselves, the various groups, hardly ever get together for lunch because you were the instigator, the gatherer.
That said, I do still have Leonard. He will, out of the blue, text me or give me a call. He misses you something fierce. And I got a nice text from John the other day, as well as had good chat with Debbie. I expect I will get an annual hello or a Facebook message. You were lucky to have so many friends and family who loved you. I am lucky to have been a part of your life for almost 20 years.
I suspect this will be the last time I do write you, but who knows? I may get an urge, or not. And that’s okay. Just know that we are all doing well; doing the best we can and are moving forward with life.