I remember one summer day in the early 90’s when Josee picked me up from my apartment in Calgary with the Sporty featured on the above photo.
My friendship with Josee started long before then though. We met in the mid 70s and spent a lot of time in the basement of her house on Maple Crescent beside the park in Chateauguay, Quebec.
Ahh that basement. It was like an episode of ‘That 70s Show.’ It was there that we graduated from drinking tea to playing darts, smoking cigarettes, drinking beer and talking about our relationships with the opposite sex. Thinking back, I feel bad for Josee’s mom who had to put up with us. But then again, she always seemed to be happy to see us.
Josee and I didn’t really stay in touch much after I left Chateauguay, but every decade or so we would manage to get together over a meal and catch up on each others’ lives. I was surprised and shocked when I heard the news of Josee’s passing a few weeks back.
This past Saturday, we celebrated Josee’s life at her daughter’s place. That’s the way Josee wanted it. She didn’t want people crying, she wanted us to enjoy hamburgers and chili, two of her favourite menu choices, and to reminisce about all the fun times we had. There were a lot of people there, family and friends, for this celebration hosted by Melodie and her husband Jordan.
Lots of stories were shared, but one of my favourites was told by Melodie. It seems that when Melodie was about 15 years old she was upset and in tears about a fight she’d had with her then boyfriend and current husband Jordan. Josee took the matter into her own hands by hopping on her Harley and riding it to Jordan’s workplace.
I could see it in my mind as Melodie shared the story – Josee, a petite yet formidable woman, pulling up to Jordan’s work place, taking off her helmet and shaking out that long dark hair, her jaw set in determination. Then spotting Jordan and walking toward him to give him hell. Man, he must have been shaking in his boots when she told him that if he cared about Melodie he should make it right and if he didn’t he should just get lost. I’m telling you, we were all laughing by the end of that story!
I also learned through her partner Sean how much she loved to travel. Often she went alone to bike through Europe for example, or visit places like Africa and Thailand. And I learned that she’d been a business owner for some years and then later she and Sean decided to sell the business and manage a resort in British Columbia so that they could travel together during the off-season.
Listening to all the stories, I couldn’t help but wish that I’d made more of an effort to stay in touch with Josee so that I could have known firsthand the person she had become. But maybe life plays out the way it’s supposed to. And maybe because it played out the way it did, it brings those of us who remain together to share our little part of her story, and in doing so we can see the bigger picture of Josee’s story together.
At one point on Saturday, I could not stop looking at Josee’s Sportster. In many ways the staging of Josee’s bike with her jacket laid across the seat at Melodie’s acreage, seemed the perfect tribute to her.
It spoke of her free-spirit, her courage, and her ability to reach her goals.
~ HUMP DAY CHRONICLES ~
Josee, You will be missed. Your courage and determination in life, and in facing death, are a great inspiration to us. Rest in Peace my friend.