As far as I understand it, Tom Gibson gave Hélène the best send-off ever. And what I see from Twitter is that there are a few of you out there who know Tom. As for me, my efforts to not be extremely sad, are not working… Yet.
This is a reposting of Tom’s letter, which Terry Huff sent out on the Toronto Data Services Division listserv.
From: Tom Gibson [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Sunday, October 16, 2011 4:53 PM
Subject: Hélène Falardeau
Apologies for the “form” email, but it occurred to me while creating this obit for Hélène for the newspaper that many of you may miss it, so I have included it here. At the bottom of this email is a link to lovely blog post (and picture) from where Hélène last worked in Vancouver.
Please forward or post this to anyone you know who might have known Hélène.
Thank you. Tom
Hélène Falardeau died in her Vancouver home on Saturday October 8, 2011. She left us happy, at peace, and surrounded by those she loved and who cherished her.
Born in Montreal in 1951, Hélène moved to Toronto at age 14. She was very much the cool and protective older sister to brother Marc and sister Ann (Gosleigh), whom she adored. Hélène later worked in administration for companies such as Upjohn, Mercedes-Benz, the Quebec Government and Reuters. Hélène’s love of reading likely blossomed while working at Coles Bookstore during high school when she brought home Agatha Christie books to help then 13-year-old Marc learn to speak English. One summer Hélène worked as hiring coordinator for the then fledgling Cirque du Soleil the first year they came to Toronto. Other summers Hélène worked as an EKG technician in Chicago while staying with her dear friend Martha. It was during her high school years that Hélène’s “French-English-ness” took shape, and which is so much a part of her. Moving from Montreal to Toronto in the mid sixties, Hélène saw The Beatles in both of their Canadian concerts (1965 Montreal, 1966 Toronto) … one of those screaming girls right up front. Many in Toronto will remember Hélène through her work at Reuters where as Manager of Administration she was known for organizing spectacular Holiday parties, her amazing doodles (the beginnings of her artistic career), and adorning the walls with wonderful artwork. Hélène had style. In October 1998 Hélène moved to Nelson BC to be with Tom Gibson and be stepmother—friend she would say—to Chris and Danielle. Hélène worked in the art supply department at Cowan’s. It was in Nelson that the art inside Hélène emerged, and in a BIG way. Work from her first pen and ink show at the Glacier Gallery surprised many. Who expected such imaginings from a “little old lady from Toronto” (her words)? As an artist she created lifelong friendships with other Nelson artists who encouraged her (“go bigger”), and she earned acclaim for several art series (kimonos, slips, escapades, …). Several more shows, and colour, followed in her eight years in Nelson. Then to Vancouver with Tom. Yaletown, overlooking False Creek, in a very different but active and vibrant life. In Vancouver Hélène had fun working part time at Matchmaker for Hire in Vancouver. A Toronto-lover, it took her a few months to say “now I get Vancouver.” A couple weeks before Hélène died she added, “I love our home here.”
Hélène died from a cancer that struck her dramatically in the summer of 2007. The grace, dignity and resourcefulness with which she faced cancer is a remarkable but perfect expression of who Hélène is, and is something the many who love her can now find comfort in embracing. Please join us in celebrating Hélène’s life on Saturday, October 22, 2011 from 1-4pm. We are pleased to be able to host our celebration of Hélène at the Harrison Gallery, located at 901 Homer Street in Vancouver. In lieu of flowers please consider donating to InspireHeath, a Vancouver-centred, integrated cancer care organization who have helped Hélène in many ways (http://www.inspirehealth.ca/donate). Or just purchase a happy and bright, cut-flower bouquet to celebrate Hélène’s life in your home. Hélène would have liked that.
Here’s the blog post. Click the picture in it to see a beautiful picture showing Hélène after her hair started to grow back after chemo in 2008. The photo in the obit piece was taken in Vancouver in 2010.