Dad’s Eulogy

 

Hi everyone. I’m Suzanne, Archie’s eldest daughter, and this is my husband Gary. Thank you all for being here today to help us say goodbye to Dad. He would have been deeply touched to see all of you here.

Before I begin, I’d like to say a special thank you to our daughter Amy for helping me write Dad’s eulogy, and I would also thank everyone who shared their many memories and stories about my father, making this tribute to him possible.

 

Archie was born to Ernest and Emily Sabourin in 1930. He was the 8th of 14 sons.

 

In his early- to mid-twenties, he got a job at a cheese factory at the end of the Eighth concession.

 

(Dad standing on the left)

 

Right across the road from the cheese factory, on a family farm, lived a vivacious young lady by the name of Diane Renaud. Her brothers normally had the task of bringing the milk cans over to the factory, but one day she ended up doing so instead. A young Archie Sabourin came out to help her. She laid eyes on him and from then on, she had officially taken over the chore from her brothers. Mom says she would buy small amounts of cheese at a time for their large family, just so she had an excuse to go back there every day. She didn’t even like cheese at the time, but she sure liked the handsome young cheese factory worker.

 

They dated for about 16 months. The joke goes that there was a bit of a language barrier between them back then, with Dad not speaking very good English, and Mom not speaking very good French; Mom asked Dad if he would marry her and he said “Oui,” not really knowing what he was agreeing to.

 

 

Mom knew he was a catch and she never let him go. They were married in September 1957. They honeymooned in Vermont and then started their life together. They were poor, but they always had each other, through thick and thin. They remained loyal, living life as a team, and hardly spent any time apart in their long marriage. She was the love of his life, just as he has been the love of hers.

 

 

Mom and Dad’s 59th anniversary in September of last year was their last one together. Mindful of Mom’s poor health, Denise and I decided to take them on some anniversary adventures to make it extra special. Among them, Denise drove them to Our Lady of the Rosary church in Crysler at the time of their wedding, and took photos of them on the steps of the church, just as they’d been taken on their wedding day.

(Mom & Dad on their Wedding Day 1957 & 59 years later standing on the same church steps)

 

Of course, they had their share of disagreements like any married couple. But their devotion to each other always remained, with some of that puppy love shining through every now and then.

One of many examples was on their 50th wedding anniversary. Before the big party, we were taking photos of Dad in his suit and tie while Mom finished getting ready. When she finally walked over to join him for pictures, his face lit up with a cheeky smile and a twinkle in his eye and he said, “Bonjour, Madame!” as though he were meeting this pretty lady for the first time.

 

Mom loved adventure and being out and about; Dad was at home in his castle. But he would go anywhere for her and although it sometimes took some persistence on her part to convince him to go places, he always ended up having a great time.

After his years at the cheese factory and then driving a milk truck for Villeneuve Milk Transport, he had a long retirement, which he enjoyed very much.

 

Mom and Dad travelled a lot after this, to the east and west coasts of Canada, to Vermont and New York State every fall, and to Florida for a few weeks in the winter for about a decade. They went to warm, sunny islands, having fun, enjoying the food, and making new friends wherever they went.

They often travelled with my brother Donald and his wife Janet, going south in the winter and making precious memories.

And they made more great memories with friends and family while camping in the summer, especially overnight camping with their sons, Donald & Marcel, sharing campfires and good meals together.

Dad was very proud of his campsite, as well as his home, his property, his garden, and his cars… His grandson, Byron, remembers the first time he was allowed to drive his Grandpapa’s car. Dad said: “Be careful, there’s lots of power under the hood. It’s a Buick!”

 

His things were all immaculately kept. His appearance, likewise: his hair and moustache just so, and in his dress shirts, vests, plaid shirts, and knitted cardigans—and even in his work clothes—he always looked neat as a pin.

 

In his perfectionism, he could also be set in his ways. From his loyalty to the 6 o’clock news and weather forecast, to endless reminders to “Lock the door, close the window, and check the sump pump”… He didn’t speak up much, except when things had to be done a certain way. One of many things he was particular about was his grandfather clock; no one was allowed to go near it. Finally though, this year, Mom and I were given official training on how to crank the clock. We didn’t hear him complain too much about becoming less independent in the last year, even though learning to ask for and accept help from his wife and children was undoubtedly a bit of a drastic change from how he had lived the rest of his life.

Before being on the receiving end of extra help, Dad spent a couple years giving extra help to Mom after she broke her hip and her health took a turn. They took care of each other with love and without complaint, both wanting to do the very best they could for each other. What I have seen with my parents, is that they really honoured their wedding vows with one another… for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part. It’s been so impressive to be witness to all of it.

Until Dad’s health deteriorated last fall, he was quite the independent man, maintaining his big property, keeping his home meticulously clean, planting a huge vegetable garden, doing his own snow blowing, and more. That’s the way he liked it. We even heard of him climbing up a tree with a chainsaw at the age of 85. He just smiled when we gave him heck for it.

He always believed in keeping active and working hard.

That said, he lived a balanced life. He knew how to relax and enjoy life, to be present and grounded, to be content with the simpler things life has to offer.

 

He was an early riser; mornings seemed to be his favourite time of day. He paced himself with a pretty regular routine. He washed up and dressed, then he’d sit at his favourite spot by the counter and have a glass of tomato juice, half an apple, and half a banana. He’d look out his big picture windows and observe the weather and neighbourhood happenings—he was a good neighbour. He enjoyed watering his flowers and watching them grow, keeping an eye on the birds at his bird feeders (and the squirrels who would empty them out), and he loved listening to his wind chimes, or to his favourite old country music. Sometimes you’d catch him sitting quietly on the front veranda, waving at passersby.

He’d wait for Mom to have his full, hearty breakfast of eggs, baloney, cheese, and a pickle or homemade catsup. He loved Mom’s cooking.

Dad also enjoyed his sweet treats. He could be full at the end of a meal, but when dessert appeared, there was always room for more. In fact, in the weeks before his passing, he had barely had any energy or appetite. But one evening not long before he died, Mom was sitting next to him, eating some strawberry ice cream and asked him if he wanted any. He swiftly took it from her, and in no time had eaten not only the rest of her ice cream, but an entire serving on top of that! We got Mom another ice cream for herself and they shared what would be a memorable “last meal” together, just as they’d grown accustomed to having for dessert each night.

 

While he was generally a calm and quiet person who preferred to sit back and observe, he definitely enjoyed having fun.

Some of us remember playing card games on a team with him, and watching him have a little too much fun making sure Mom’s team didn’t beat him. Perhaps a bit of playful payback for her ability to get her way on other matters. She enjoyed the teasing.

He was a fun guy. We’ll always remember his contagious smile and laugh as a highlight of our time together.

 

In their younger years of married life, we would frequently get together with Dad’s many brothers and their families to laugh, to party, and enjoy each others’ company. There wasn’t a lot of money back then, but the good times made for awesome memories.

(Dad and his 13 brothers… they were a family of 14 boys, no girls)

 

Over the years, he loved dressing up in various costumes on Halloween, and at the campsite… One year, for the Miss Sandy Mountain Campground contest, he decided to dress up as a woman named Alice. When asked his measurements, he responded, “36-36-36!” He was a good sport.

 

Last year for Father’s Day, we bought him some bubbles and gave him permission to blow them in the house. It was priceless to watch. He said he never had bubbles as a little boy and that he’d really had fun. Of course being the predictably meticulous man that he was, the next day, he said to me: “Do you know those bubbles stained my floors?”

 

Of all the things he was proud of, his big family was number one.

 

First came those of us who called him Dad. He was forever proud of his children, Donald, Denise, Marcel, and myself, and of our accomplishments in life.

 

We all inherited some of his traits in one way or another. Some of us have a bit of a stubborn streak and are set in our ways; some inherited his perfectionism; some, his quiet demeanour; some of us are more private; some are more laid back and enjoy life’s simple pleasures, just as he did.

 

He eventually got to love our spouses and significant others as much as he loved us, and they loved Archie right back.

His 13 grandkids and 13 great-grandkids knew him as Grandpapa, Grandpa, or Papa. Oh and by the way, my parents weren’t superstitious with #13.

 

He has always had an extra soft spot for each of the little ones in the family. He would light up when he was around the babies. We witnessed this love again several days prior to his death when his granddaughter Emily brought her 2 month old daughter, Zoey, to see him in the hospital. Their eyes locked onto each other, love poured out of Dad’s heart, and his tired body and eyes lit up with adoration. Those of us who were present for it will never forget those moments between the oldest member and newest member of our family.

He loved us all unconditionally, and he always wanted the best for everyone.

 

We celebrated Christmases together, birthdays, and anniversaries, creating memories, etching familiar family scenes in our hearts and minds.

 

The end of his life reflected the private person that he was. In his final weeks spent at the hospital and finally at the Cornwall Hospice, he wanted nothing more than his children and his wife by his side 24/7, and so that is what we gave him, as did his daughter-in-law Janet who was present as much as we were in helping to care for Dad. He was also visited often by our spouses, and by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. During this blessed time, many special moments were had together that we won’t soon forget.

He had never been much of one to talk, but he took this time to expressing things to us in ways that he hadn’t before. He loved us all profoundly.

His last few weeks helped us all to let go and accept his inevitable passing. He met this experience with admirable courage, faith, and grace, accepting that it was his time.

He truly passed away peacefully and loved, and we couldn’t have asked for better for such a great man at the end of his journey on earth.

His presence in our lives is irreplaceable, but our fond memories of him are strong and somehow help make his departure a little easier to bear. We are grateful for the time we spent together.

We have nothing more to ask of God but to welcome him back home to His Kingdom.

 

In Memory of a husband,
father, grand-father, great-grandfather!!

Archie Sabourin

1930-2017

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Comments

  1. JanetSabourin says:

    It was a wonderful eulogy! I still love to read it all. You and Amy Are very special.

  2. Bravo, Suzanne and Amy! It is one of the most touching eulogies that I have ever heard or read! Love to both of you! xoxo

  3. Mary Dowdy says:

    So,so beautiful and touching this eulogy is. What a great job that you and Amy did on writing this.
    I am so sure that while you were struggling to keep your composure and read this that he was watching you with a great big smile on his face. Saying “that’s my girl “.
    Wonderful words.

    • Thank you Mary. I believe you might be right. In the hospital Dad did tell me one day when I was crying, that I was a “good girl”, so he may just have been saying that exact same thing the day of his funeral when I read his eulogy. I know he would have been very proud of not only me, but of Mom, and my siblings and our families. xoxo

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