August 20. Today’s my mother’s birthday. She’d be 90. She was 82 when this photo was taken. Her hairdresser took it; and no, she hadn’t had her make-up done by a professional for the shot. She did it herself. She put her make up on like that every morning, without fail.
My mother was an identical twin and they were born slightly premature. Her disposition was 100% Leo: She always had a smile on her face. Always. She was very outgoing, gregarious even. She talked to everyone, including strangers in elevators, on the subway, in stores, wherever. And no one ever seemed to mind. They never tried to distance themselves from her, afraid she was a bit of a nut. They carried on conversations with her.
When my parents sold their house after I’d moved out, they moved downtown, into an apartment. It was a lovely, elegant building with a lot of old-world charm. The original owner, a Greek tycoon, sold it to a Quebec-born millionaire, J. Louis Levesque. A businessman, racehorse owner/breeder and a philanthropist, he sat on the Boards of blue chip companies like Air Canada, Canadian National Railways, Hilton Hotels of Canada, Provincial Bank of Canada and many more. Among the many honours he received during his lifetime, he was in the Canadian Business Hall of Fame, received the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award in 1972 and, in 1976, he was named to the Order of Canada.
When he bought the building my parents lived in, one of the conditions of the sale was that the wealthy Greek would move out of the penthouse, so J. Louis and his wife could move in.
Well my mother struck up a conversation with him, in the elevator one day. She instantly became his new best friend — to the point that, whenever he went fishing Continue reading →