Thursday, 24 July 2008

Henri Joseph Fernand Ste. Marie

Henri (Harry) Joseph Fernand Ste. Marie

The very first man I ever loved.

Named for a dead brother and two fathers. My grandmother Nana (Renee) and my grandfather Pungpung (Camille) named their first son (my father) after Nana’s dead brother (Henri), Pungpung’s father (Joseph), and Nana’s father (Fernand).

I think my father is going to die soon. He sleeps all the time and has no appetite or energy. When Angelique was over there painting the outdoor furniture for my Mom, he was only up for about 10 minutes in an 8 hour period. I went in to see him a few times and he was out like a light and he looked like he was wasting away.

But could death really take this man. I don’t want it too.

Even though I know it is not fair that he has had a long life, and many of my friends have not been so lucky. I still don’t want him to die.

All of us who love him need to spend more time with him now. I don’t think there will be a later. Anytime he is alone is wasted time.

My father is the man with the big laugh, the big personality, and the big spender. The man who couldn’t be prouder that he has 13 children (that he knows of), the man who never squelched on taking care of us and the man with the biggest heart.

Although I started working when I was 14 years old, my father still gave me money for material to get a dress made one year. I loved that dress and I loved that my Dad gave me the money because he was so proud that I never asked him for anything.

I don’t know who else argues/debates with Dad as much as I do, but I know I enjoy it and I think he does too. Except for the time that we were talking about the Bible and I said it was a history book. He kept getting upset and Wahid kept telling me “Dearest, stop it already.” I wouldn’t stop I don’t know why.

My Dad would always say to me ‘I don’t understand why you woman don’t want to be put on a pedestal?’ And I would reply that if we wanted to be on a pedestal we would put ourselves on it.

My Dad has always cracked me up. He always has the best stories and sometimes he has the best jokes.

A few years ago I asked my Dad about his experience in World War II and he told me that he decided to join the military because he had gone to see the movie “Captain of the Clouds” and the theme song was “We’re Off to the Big Show” and that movie made him want to join the Air Force. He joined the RCAF which stood for Royal Canadian Air Force, but of course my Dad added that it stood for Really Caught and Fucked. My Dad became a gunner in the planes and held the rank of Leading Air Craftsman.

Of course the best things that came out of the war for my Dad was the wee lass he married in Scotland and his first born son, my brother Harry.

When I was first diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer, it was my Dad who gave me a piece of advice that I don’t know what I would do with out. He said ‘When the what-ifs come knocking, tell them to fuck off.’ And I did, and I do.

My Dad would drive over and bring flowers. One time it was yellow roses, another time it was an assorted bouquet of spring flowers. We would sit on the couch and talk about dying. He once said if he dies before me, that I shouldn’t be too upset. I said Dad, I won’t be you should die before me. Those were very nice days.

My Dad is a computer genius and can make his computer talk. My Dad has many friends on the computer and when I was over there visiting the other day he showed me an msn conversation between himself, his friend John, and his friend Caroline. His friends were asking how he was feeling and if he had gone to the doctors and I could tell that the tone of the conversation was a caring one among friends. I especially liked when Caroline (thank you) said to my Dad “I guess I just have to enjoy my sweet friend for as long as this moment in time lasts.”

You are so right Caroline, and you made me wonder if my Dad is getting more support from his friends than he is getting from his family. And I also realized that I just have to enjoy my sweet Dad for as long as this moment in time lasts.

When I left the house with Angelique last week, I felt like my stomach dropped and said to Angelique I think Grandpa is dying. Angelique said “I just wish that it could all stay the same that the people I love would always be here.” ‘Me too’ I said.

Better than a Timex, he keeps on ticking. He has been told he should be dead now (that first started 30 years ago). ‘You should be dead now’ they would say. ‘You won’t survive this’ they would say. But he isn’t and he has.

Last week I thought he would not last the week. Yesterday, I felt that he has many weeks and months ahead of him and that he isn’t going anywhere yet. I told him I had thought he was dying and that I was going to write that in my blog. My Dad said that would be fine but to also let everyone know that he doesn’t think he will be going for another 30 years at least.

My Dad has helped the sun to shine brighter for me and I will always love him for that.

You are wonderful Dad and wherever you go or whenever you go and best of all if you just stay here where I can see you, I want you to remember that you are well loved by me, your favourite 52-year old.


Anonymous said...

Again Setting the Record Straight: (you did put the challenge out there)

Everyone who is anyone knows that you Renee have always said that I am dad's favorite! (And I am sure most will agree with you, cause I am) And isn’t it amazing how a man with 13 children can always make it that each of us felt just that special. Well I for one can tell you that I have always enjoyed that I am (right now) his favourite 51-year old! I certainly tell Hannah that she is my favorite 3 yr old and that will always be something that I will attribute to my parents. Dad always said hey boo we might not have a lot of money, but we have a lot of love. (What can be better?)

Renee love that you wrote about dad, hate that the circle of life comes too quickly for any of us and totally understand that a parent would never, ever want to live longer than a child no matter how old they are.

What I wouldn’t give to be able to just drop in.

Anonymous said...

Just beautiful Renee,
I'm giving my dad a call, and putting your dad in my prayers...
Love ya

Anonymous said...

"Me too"

A Place to Lay My Thoughts said...

This just shows how important Dad's are in our lives. This is so beautiful. It is so loving and sweet and well, somehow breaks my own heart. It makes me feel so much for you and your love for your dad. It brings out so much love for my dad...but then I feel for my own daughter and the lack of relationship she will have with her father...
I am glad you have such a bond...and today I am going to put my parents on a higher priority on my to do list.
PS love the picture you put on this post...

angelique said...

That was a beautiful post Mom. I just love Grandpa so much and have so many great memories...from him taking us golfing, taking me to Sals, testing me in math and French, the painting he made of me, watching him paint and watching his cigarettes burn the drafting table, and always telling me " You're a good girl Angie. I love you" (he still always says that when I leave).

jacquie said...

very warm and heart felt renee... you describe dad to a t. i love dad so much and apparently he loves me more... as i recall he only bought one gold pendant with
on it and it was given to me by dad....need i say more?
jacquie(aka daddy's little girl or also known as dad's favorite 54 year old.)
ps we have to remember that
LOVE IS AN ACTION WORD and give day more love and support.

Camille said...

Was thinking about dad & favorite times with him. I remember when I was 5 or 6 years old, on Sherbrook Street. I fell off my trike cut my thumb & had to get stitches. Dad took me to the hospital, talked me through them with thoughts of going for an ice cream cone, Just him & I. Ever since then I've known that I'm the FAVORITE Daughter. But seriously, I've always felt Dad & Mom have always given us love & individual time, which is pretty amazing with that many children. They've done a great job.

Anonymous said...

This was so beautifully said. Your dad, Henri, has been my friend for several years now. He's an amazing friend, and always asks God to keep my children safe. It breaks my heart to know that he's going through such pain. I can only remember his humor and optimism, and his pride in his children, and his admiration and deep deep love for his Daisy. :) He gave me your blog a few months ago, and I've made a point of reading it from end to end. You see, he found out that a very close friend of mine is also very ill with cancer, and wanted to give me some piece of mind maybe?

I've never had the pleasure of meeting Henri in person, but still, my heart hurts as if he were my own relative.

You take care, all of you, and know that my thoughts and prayers will be with you and ARE with you every single day. Thank you, for such a personal wonderful insight to your dad and family.


Renee said...

No Caroline, thank you.

Your prayers and respect and friendship for my father mean alot to me.

I am grateful.

You are right though, he is an amazing person.

Love Renee

Mickey said...

Renee I also love what you wrote in this post.I like everyone else have wonderful memories with Dad's name on it. I remember being small and learning to ride a bike and Dad came home from work and I asked him to watch me ride my bike and he didn't say I will go into the house and be right back out, he stayed outside and watched me for about a half an hour. He would say watch you don't fall and I would say I won't and of course I would fall everytime. I love this memory because I felt like I was the only person in the world Dad cared about at that time.

I know Dad has always been so proud of the fact that he has 13 children and I think we have been so BLESSED to be born to this man. I once told Dad that I remember being poor growing up BUT I do not remember ever being unhappy as a child.

Now I know that Colette thinks for some reason that she is Dad's favorite and you think you are because no one can argue/debate with him better than you and Camille thinks she is because Dad took her for ice cream by herself [sorry to burst your ice cream bubble Camille but I think we have all gone for ice cream with Dad by ourselves at some point in fact I remember going for ice cream after we went to A & W once ha ha just joking] and that Jacquie thinks she is because Dad bought her some OH MY GOODNESS little pendant that said Daddy's Little Girl. Well I am sure that Shelly will say she is because she thinks her and Dad have some kind of secret arm squeeze and I am positive Suzy will try to come up with some kind of special story so I am here to set the whole thing straight I am without any doubt Dad's favorite girl because everytime I see him he is wearing a T shirt that says right on it for all of you to see I LOVE MICKEY THE MOST.

I hope I haven't hurt anyones feelings because I am sure that Dad loves all of you in some way.

I love love love you Dad

Love you favorite and your favorite 56 year old.

jacquie said...

by the way everyone ...mickey love the t shirt that has
i love mickey the most
BECAUSE MICKEY MADE THAT T SHIRT FOR DAD ....what choice did he have but to wear it.
all kidding aside ....camille brought up sherbrook st and that brought back a few memories ...
i was hiding around the corner of the house when i could hear camille saying to dad
" BUT DAD I AM NOT JACQUIE I AM CAMILLE ... "i know my own kids ...
i knew camille was in for it
but before any spanking was given dad always said
although i knew camille was going to get it, i played it cool and stayed around the corner of the house when dad caught sight of me .... i got an earful but camille got an appology and i think another ice cream with that appology.
and of course the memory of watching leave it to beaver (beaver gets a hair cut)
camille and i were about 6&7 at the time when after watching the show it was's how it goes ... i went upstairs to bed and was pulled into the closet by camille who just happened to have scissors with her ... she proceeded to cut my hair off at the neck/top of my head/ some were left long and curly to my waist etc
mom sent dad to check on us because we were too quiet .. by the time dad came upstairs i had also cut camille's hair all shoulder length ... so she could at least have a nice haircut.
my mom was balling as she loved our long hair ... i had to be shaved bald and camille cried that she wanted the same haircut as me ...there was no consoling her and she got shaved bald too.
well the following sunday we were dressed in beautiful yellow dresses..well everyone that went by us asked " are you boys or girls? to which we promptly answered boys"
my brother harry overheard us and asked my mom to put us in jeans as it was embarrassing.
i remember camping all across canada growing up and i always thought we were rich ..... well i guess we were in my eyes.

jacquie said...


the proof is in the pudding and i have the gold pendant that has
bought by dad..