This past weekend was a final page in the sense that we, the three orphans buried our mother’s ashes and held a memorial for my father who died 3 months ago.
We were lucky with the weather like two years ago when we had the Funeral Mass for my mother, it was a beautiful sunny day in Fall colours. The old Cemetery of Saint-Laurent dates back to 1740. My mother’s family have been buried there since 1830.
The immediate family gathered at the grave site with the Curé de la Paroisse for a final prayer. It was nice to see everyone, some cousins who were part of our childhood I had not seen in 40 years.
In the afternoon we held the Memorial for my father who died suddenly on Sunday 12 July at Holt Renfrew his favourite store in Montreal.
I was asked by my sister and brother to deliver a short speech to both families Beaulieu and the Gougeon and to gathered colleagues and friends. I was somewhat nervous about what to say, how to present it, what to recall. Did not want to bore people or say something that would not be accurate or in keeping with the memories people had of our father. Again many people at this gathering I had not seen in 45 years but I remembered them well. They are all quite elderly now it brought back a lot of memories of all those years past and of my father’s contribution to the development of the Hotel industry in Montreal, in Canada and North America.
I also asked people to join in and say a few words about their own memories of him. One anecdote told by an old friend of my Dad was during the late 1960’s when speaking with an important new customer by father explained that by holding their convention banquet in his hotel, guests would be served an 8oz filet of steak. My Dad’s friend who was the Banquet manager asked him afterwards why did he say 8oz to the customer knowing that all steaks were no more than 5oz in any hotel in Montreal, the standard for the industry, my Dad replied that a customer should never be disappointed in what he is expecting from an event, in this case the size of the steak on the plate. The art of the sale as they call it. It made everyone laugh because that was Dad alright, and his clients always remembered him fondly, many followed him from one hotel to the next because they trusted him with their events.
The Memorial was catered in one of our parents favorite restaurants in Montreal, L’Orchidée de Chine on Peel Street. The owner was an old family friend who was quite overwhelmed with grief.
The food served was wonderful, Dad would have approved and of course we had Champagne, always bubbles the way both Mom and Dad enjoyed it. It was a weekend of memories and in many ways a good one. Death does not have to be a sad ending when so many good memories remain with us.
Photo I took in Mykonos during our trip for his 80th Birthday.