TORONTO - Madeleine’s last Good-Bye: “Thank You, Dan. I Love you”.
“We shared so many good times, it would be a shame if we squandered even one precious moment of these last few hours together bemoaning unhappy conditions”, Madeleine said to her husband of 48+ years, Dan Montesano, even as doctors infused yet additional morphine to dull her pain.
And with that, Jean Brazeau, her brother, said the two started a trip down memory lane reminiscing all those happy moments, which, when strung together, suggest a life of continuous blessings and couch the accompanying realities of hard work and sacrifice. She smiled, giggled and even attempted a laugh or two, as Dan, holding her hand, did most of the talking.
A little like their unlikely first date in 1970, in Sudbury - of all places. Unlikely because she was a young French-Canadian nurse from Sturgeon Falls, with French as language of first use. He, a recent immigrant carpenter from Italy’s Basilicata region with halting capacity in English and on assignment from a large Toronto builder.
Verbal communication, difficult as it was, only fanned the flames of a romance that led to marriage, later in 1972. Madeleine re- minded him that it had been providential that he had learned some French when working in Belgium. Pre-training for admission into the Brazeau clan, admitted her husband.
That’s the way their life made sense: when things seemed to go in an undesired direction the language whipping boy was there to take the blame… until good sense and love resettled the account. They both agreed. Nothing that a little humility couldn’t solve, she would say, no matter whose turn it might be.
Together they built their economic future from the ground up - starting with virtually nothing - to the enjoyment of the fruits of their labour: holidays and homes in “exotic” places, dinners with the “elite classes” of Toronto, Canada and Italy; personal friendships with Prime Ministers, accolades from Presidents, blessings from Prelates. What Madeleine valued most was the expressions of joy their contributions to charitable organizations brought to the clientele they served.
Madeleine insisted on being involved in parish affairs, demanded active participation in democratic institutions (full disclosure, she showed up in my campaign office almost 40 years ago to the day, and we remained friends ever since), supported cultural events and associations and insisted that her husband take part in the resurrection of the Corriere Canadese. One of her sisters is the owner-operator of a weekly in Sturgeon Falls.
She was fond of saying “let’s do what we have to do and can do; when we can’t, let’s find those who can, assume the responsibility and share the benefits”, God’s been good to us.
It is a great legacy, Madeleine. On behalf of the entire staff at Corriere Canadese: Thank you! May you rest in peace!