Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sympathy Saturday: Gathered for a Funeral

Jacqueline Desgroseilliers with her sisters and their aunt at her father's funeral
Jacqueline (left) with her sisters and their paternal aunt Flavie (centre, back), 1960

My grandfather Eugène died 54 years ago today on 20 September 1960. He had recently turned 60, and had been unwell for some time. When his younger daughter Jacqueline (my mother) visited him earlier that summer, he told her that it wasn’t the same ‘unwell’ feeling he had when drinking (“C’est pas la boisson”, he said), but something different.

One day that September, Mom got a phone call from her sister Madeleine. She “just about broke down” when Madeleine told her their father was very ill, in hospital with cancer.

After leaving me in the care of my paternal grandparents at home in Timmins (I was only two years old and Dad was working), Mom, Madeleine and a few of their Desgroseilliers relatives who also lived in northeastern Ontario left for Sarnia. They drove all night, a journey of about 963 km (about 597 miles), that Mom still remembers as “a really bad night”. The next day, they were met by Mom’s sisters Mariette, Simone, Normande and Jeanne d’arc, who lived near their father.

Arriving at Sarnia General Hospital, Mom and Madeleine realized just how ill their father was when he didn’t recognize his daughters, even though Madeleine gently told him “Poppa, c’est Jacqueline…”.

A few days later, while Mom was resting at her sister Simone’s home, Eugène passed away.

A requiem high mass was held three days later at St. Thomas Aquinas church on 23 September 1960. Mom, her sisters, as well as their father’s surviving brothers and sister and various relatives, were present.

Jacqueline Desgroseilliers with her sisters at their father's funeral in 1960
A blurry photo of sisters in mourning; left to right:
Simone, Mariette, Jacqueline, Madeleine, Jeanne d’arc and Normande, 1960

Eugène was laid to rest next to his Juliette, who predeceased him in 1948, at Our Lady of Mercy cemetery in Sarnia.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

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