Earlier this week, I called my grandma to express my condolences after hearing Ong Bay had passed away. After talking to her for a few minutes, she said, “I’ve been meaning to tell you. Remember Father Andre? I only just found out recently that he passed away after a long battle with cancer.”
My heart sank.
That day, I found out that not one, but 2 people dear to me had left this world. And I didn’t get the chance to see either of them one last time.
Many of you probably don’t know Msgr. André Drouin so let me tell you the story of how I got to know him.
For the majority of my life, my grandparents lived downtown in Ottawa and regularly attended St Anne’s Parish where Msgr. André Drouin resided as pastor.
During my childhood, my sister and I often stayed at my grandparents, and of course, if they went to daily morning masses, then so did we.
I don’t recall since when, but for as long as I can remember, we called him Father André and he loved us. He would acknowledge us with a wink during procession and after every mass, we would wait patiently for our turn to say hello. Once he saw us, he would greet us with open arms and a loud, “Ah, my girlfriends!” while bending down to swoop us up. We’d always give him a peck on the cheek and he would turn us to the other parishioners and introduce us as his girlfriends. He would also always show off a little detail like, “Guess how many languages they speak? Tell them girls. Three languages! And what are they? Yes, English, French and Vietnamese!”
We grew up over the years and no matter how busy, he always had time for us, our grandparents and later – our numerous cousins. Made us feel special and somehow, despite all the people he met, always remembered the little things we told him. During high school I told him I wanted to become a pharmacist. Years later when we met again, he asked about pharmacy even though I had long moved on. He always remembered.
My grandparents eventually moved to our neighbourhood, and as a result, attending mass at St Anne’s became a rarity. Weeks turned into months and months eventually turned into years. My grandparents would see him once in a while, and tell me Father Andre had asked about us. My grandma got his phone number for me and told him I would get in touch.
And I wanted to. I certainly meant to. But life kept getting in the way. Now isn’t that a common excuse you often hear? I was busy with school, then I was busy taking care of my dad, then I was busy with school again, then busy with preparations of getting ready for Australia.
I never made the time to visit him and now I won’t get chance.
Although it saddens me, it’s now an important reminder of life. Never be too busy to make time for those you care about. Time flies, situations develop and people change. Nothing and nobody will wait for you, nor will they be around forever. ❤
Rest in peace.
January 01, 1934 – June 04, 2012