Sorry the photo is so big. Limitations on my patience in fixing it.
My mom had 13 brothers and sisters. They all grew up on a farm in Manitoba; a town called St. Joseph to be exact. Mom was the fourth oldest I think. Let’s see, Charlie, Lionel (or Lionel, Charlie), Gilberte, mom and then a slew of others.
In the photo above is Gilberte (Gail to the English only speaking amongst us) with her husband, Rosario and me. Me the baby not me the woman with the odd hat. 1966. Rosario (Rosie) died at 41 in 1973. Gail outlived him by 43 years, dying yesterday. She died filled with dementia at almost 87 (no Berard has ever lived past 87, my Aunt Emma was said to have said recently).. True that.
My grandfather also had dementia and died in 1985. I swear this story will get cheerier. I will make it so. Gail always feared she too would develop it. Seems those fears couldn’t keep it from coming true. She’ll be more at peace now, I think.
She was always kind to me – my godmother she was. She and my mom hung out- she was often over to our house for this holiday or a chat and etc. I have a flash image of everyone smoking – this is what was done in those days.
For a time, I thought of her as kind of glamorous – I swear I thought she was kind of a hot mama with her long black hair and kind of sultry presence.
I left Winnipeg in 1987 to make my grand fortune in the wilds of Vancouver. I didn’t see her much after that.
I did see her at my mom’s funeral in Dec. 2013 – this was amazing – her son, Denis, and his wife, Kathy, brought her. There she was, an impossibly small woman in a wheelchair. I went over to her at the reception, looked into her face.
I have another cousin who really should be Mormon she is such a good keeper of old photos, videos and the like. About a year ago she scanned and organized all of the photos my mom had kept over the years, going way back. I love old photos anyway and when it is family, holy smokes. I tear up at most at it still because my mom has passed and even though she would be 85 years old now she was not meant to ever ever ever ever die. Come back! You’ve been gone long enough. Anyway, I especially like the photos of mom and Gail from the 1950’s – wild and partying women of their day.
I was most lucky to have gotten together with Denis and Kathy in Vancouver the night before Gail passed away. Her health status, rocky for so long, was never certain. It was the same with mom for a time – the doctor says it is time but really it is not time and on and on it goes. Anyway, we had a lovely dinner and a walk on the beach and I was so thrilled and touched to be meeting with family (I hadn’t seen them other than at mom’s funeral in more than a quarter of a century) that I wanted everyone I knew to walk by on the beach so I could say HERE IS SOME OF MY FAMILY. We had a chance to reminisce a bit and here is the shocker – they smiled at some strangers in Vancouver and THE PEOPLE SMILED BACK. This ain’t no friendly Manitoba, people. “People are friendly here!” “No,” I said, “Really it is a cold town. A town of ice. People are icy here and do yoga. They do ice yoga.”
They were RVing it around in their amazing RV that they are able to sleep in because of heat being involved and holy cow ingenuous. They have inflatable paddle boards!
So of the 14, four remain I think. I was trying to remember last night the number.
And so let us lift a glass to Gilberte Berard Roy. My head doesn’t believe in a literal heaven because reality but my heart likes to think Gail is up there chatting with her parents, with my mom, Liliane, and their siblings. Oh and also Uncle Joe (their uncle).
jusqu'à ce que nous nous reverrons (I hope google translate translated that correctly)