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Oh Happy Days

Happiness can sometimes be found in the simplest of moments. That’s what Huguette, a Great Friend on the Little Brothers Basses-Laurentides team, taught us on a beautiful summer’s day at Domaine Juliette Huot in Oka.

That day, Huguette sang, danced and laughed with her favorite volunteers. A day that may seem simple, but was unexpected when you know her story. A few weeks after arriving at Little Brothers last March, our Great Friend learned that she was ill. The doctors gave her a week to live. But Huguette is full of surprises, and offered us the privilege of staying by her side for another five months. Last June, the Little Brothers team, along with its squad of volunteers, prepared a day for her that we won’t soon forget.

A new family

When Huguette arrived at Little Brothers, she found an entire family. Since then, she has been lovingly cared for by no less than four volunteers. “With them, Huguette has regained the strength to fight, the will to live, to enjoy the little moments that life has to offer, despite her diagnosis,” explains Nathalie, her team coordinator.

First, there’s Valérie, the quiet force in Huguette’s life. “I’ve rarely met someone who listens as well as she does,” Huguette says. Her gentleness fills the heart of her Great Friend.

As for Patrick, he’s just the touch of madness she needed. He likes to make her laugh and dream. In the spring, he took her for a ride in his convertible. As soon as she got into the car, she took off her scarf and hat, put both hands in the air and shouted “Freedom!” Patrick now inspires her with a new dream: to be able to walk again and dance with him one day.

Over time, new volunteers have expressed their desire to support Great Friends at the end of life. Claire supports Huguette with her interest in alternative and complementary medicine. With her knowledge and experience of volunteering in a hospice, she greatly soothes Huguette.

Finally, Paulyne, a dance teacher, completes the family that surrounds our Great Friend. Who knows, maybe one day she’ll be able to help make her dream come true? One thing’s for sure: Patrick hasn’t given up. In any case, chance has brought together these four kind-hearted souls, each of whom fills Huguette’s day-to-day life in their own way. Well surrounded, she savors every moment and never wants to leave them.

When magic happens

So here we are, on a sunny June 21. Huguette was thinking of going to Oka with her volunteer Patrick for a peaceful dinner. She had asked for shrimp, and the kitchen staff at Domaine Juliette-Huot had prepared a meal just for her. Unfortunately, Patrick was forced to cancel at the last minute. But the rest of her dedicated team of volunteers came through! As Huguette settled onto the sofa in the Domaine’s grand salon, her volunteers arrived. Huguette’s face lights up with each entrance. One by one, she wraps her arms around them. They take the time to catch up.

Mr. Lapierre, our accordionist, is there to surprise Huguette. She is transferred from her wheelchair to the most comfortable armchair in the house, which has been moved outside. The accordionist begins to play, and the magic happens. Huguette dances, laughs, sings… When it’s time to play her favorite song, her smile lights up the group. The guests are filled with emotion. The stars in Huguette’s eyes bring tears to the accordionist’s cheeks. He plays, she looks at him in awe.

She then asks him to play “Oh Happy Days”. He’s sorry, he doesn’t know how to play it. I’ll learn it,” he promises, “and I’ll play it for you next time I see you.

– Okay,” she replies, with no hesitation. Let’s meet tomorrow then.

Huguette’s story reminds us how small actions have an incredible impact on our Great Friends. When Huguette returned to her nursing home that evening, she had only one word on her lips: “Magic”. So many thanks to Nathalie and Mylène, from the Basses Laurentides team, for orchestrating this extraordinary day, to Valérie, Patrick, Claire and Paulyne for your unconditional support. We would like to pay a warm tribute to Huguette and thank her from the bottom of our hearts for the beautiful lesson in life she has given us over the last few months.

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