Saturday, 28 September 2013

Une bien triste nouvelle, libera me domine de morte aeterna

This morning I got a phone call from my sister who is in Montreal at this time. She informed me that our Mom had died in her sleep. Mom had been ill with Alzheimer for 14 long years. We saw her decline and it was painful to see such a wonderful, intelligent women disappear before our eyes.

She really was a great Mom and she took her duties as a mother seriously. She had been raised by the nuns in Ville Saint-Laurent, then a separate city from Montreal. She went to l'Ecole Normale run by les Dames de la Congrégation and became a teacher. In time got married and had 3 kids, me being the eldest, my brother and my little sister. Education, Culture, speaking French correctly and being polite and courteous even when people could be rude was something she taught us. She use to say that you have to get along with everyone because it takes all kinds to make a world.

Rollande Gougeon-Beaulieu, Mars 1931- Septembre 2013


She was a successful Realtor in Montreal, she organized cultural events in Montreal at the time of Expo 67 and became friends with the Mayor Jean Drapeau, she worked at organizing events and raising funds for Pierre E. Trudeau, our then Prime Minister, she was also the Secretary of the Speaker of the House of Commons in Ottawa, a job she loved, she was comfortable in high society and was not phased with meeting Heads of State. She treated everyone with courtesy and kept a cool head.  With my father they travelled and lived around the world, Paris, London, New-York, Washington DC, St-Paul, Toronto, Quebec City.

I remember in 1969 she won a radio contest, the prize was a trip to Ireland. She decided that she would take us to Europe and so we travelled from Ireland to France to England.  We were kids but will never forget that first trip. We got so many wonderful things from her, her common sense, her love of beautiful things, of things well done, hard work, being responsible, of always taking the high road in life and raising above any situation, never lowering your personal standards.

She was also a good cook, I remember watching her cook, always from scratch, she never used any processed, frozen or package goods. Being a teacher by profession, she was good at explaining how to proceed and what you had to watch for. I think I got my love of cooking from her and to this day, go to the Farmer's market to get fresh farm produce.

So many wonderful memories of a beautiful life, I know that I can say without false sentimentality that
my Mom was a great lady, able to combine home and work at a time when women were just starting to enter the work place. How she did it, always having lots of time for us and being able to work and have so many commitments outside the home, amazes me.

She knew from the beginning that she was suffering from Alzheimer, she was afraid of what was going to happen, but she nonetheless remained dignified.

I feel very grateful and lucky to have had such a Mom. I am thankful for her life.

Her favourite song was Yellow Bird, whenever we would go out where they had a band or a singer, she would request it.






16 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry for your loss Laurent.

    CP

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  2. So sorry to hear of your loss. She was obviously a very special person. My deepest condolences.

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  3. Not much more to add to my email to you on learning of this, but it's always wonderful to read about an interesting life well lived. And your ma had quite some connections! Very elegant in that photo - and you look just like her. Now will be a good time fo resurrecting your 'real' mother. We know the pain of dementia here and the nearest can only look on and hope the person is as happy, or at least as not distressed, as possible. I do dread the moment when J's ma doesn't recognise us, though. Thoughts with you

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    1. Thank you again David for your kind words. She was quite extraordinary.
      That photo was taken in her apartment at the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa by Yusuf Karsh who was a friend of hers.

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  4. What sad news; I remember you spoke of her this summer in stratford. I know this story: I went through the same with my godfather/uncle who died of ALZ this January.
    I am sorry nevertheless for you loss. At this time words are usually lame and useless; i am glad you surrounded by so many people at this time.
    And - what a lovely panegyric you wrote; a grande dame indeed.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. Much appreciated. She slipped away in her sleep the way she wanted to go.

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  5. Very sad news. My condolences to you and your siblings. Your Mom sounds like a real trailblazer and a wonderful person. Alzheimers is a terrible thief of a disease but always remember her from her glory days.

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  6. I offer my condolences, Larry, on your loss. There is nothing easy about Alzheimer's, or the death of our mothers. My mother also passed after suffering from the disease for 4 years. I hope you remember your mother as the woman you describe in this post, and I hope that this memory comforts you.

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    1. Tony thank you for your kind words.

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  7. My deepest condolences. I'm so very sorry for your loss.
    My mother loves that song, too. Thank you for sharing these things.
    With loving thoughts,
    Victor

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    1. Victor Thank you for your kind words.

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