Does anyone in Toronto know where I could get French-language greeting cards?
Well, one more time, I had to mail an English birthday card to Craig’s partner, Claude. Now he’s always up for anything that will improve his second-language skills but, as a gesture, I just think French-language cards for him would be nice.
April 24 is now so inextricably linked to both Claude and Craig. My brother was carrying bags of stuff home to celebrate three years ago today when, right in front of their beautiful old walk-up in Montréal’s Le Plateau neighbourhood, he stumbled and fell to the pavement. A shopkeeper across the street saw it happen and called 9-1-1. Craig hit his head so hard, and was unresponsive, that it was to the Montréal Neurological Institute that paramedics took him (lower hat-pin), just a short walk from the United Theological College to which he made a bequest of a memorial gift. Canadians might remember the Montréal Neuro for one of its famous founders Dr. Walter “I smell toast” Penfield. Craig was in the best possible hands. Unfortunately he never regained consciousness nor, for that matter, did he breathe on his own. That’s not to say there weren’t many days and nights of hoping.
In the whirlwind of that late afternoon Claude had called my sister in New Brunswick, second only to Craig in the family as far as proficiency in French. She immediately flew to Montréal, alerting my other sister what was going on who, in turn, called me that evening. We decided to take on the role of being with Mom in Perth while news from Montréal was still fluid.
Mom took our collective advice to stay at home. She didn’t fight us on that, having just recently spent Easter weekend with Craig and Claude. A few days later, with news not getting any better, my sister and I went to Montréal to see the lay of the land for ourselves. I must say one of the lasting impressions I have of that visit was how the respirator seemed to inflate his slim belly to the point of nearly breaking. I’m not sure any of his “thumbs up” responses were anything more than something involuntary pulled from his memory. The next day there was virtually no response and, as my sister and I returned to Mom, I was pretty sure – or in dread – that I had seen Craig for the last time.
But that was somewhere between April 24 and May 9. April 24 is still for Claude, whom we all love as a brother and son. I can’t imagine being in his head and heart on this date any more, but I know that a friend of he and Craig is making him dinner tonight.
Bonne fête, cher Claude!
A few pictures from Montréal and Perth in April and May of 2007: