Thank You!

Windsor Star - - OPINION -

I re­mem­ber the day as if it were yesterday. Nearly five years ago, my wife, Michelle, went in for a colonoscopy, only to learn that our lives would be changed for­ever. She never com­plained. She never blamed. She never co­cooned or self pitied, even though many would un­der­stand if she had. Ever since that day, we com­mit­ted our­selves to liv­ing with cancer as if it were a chronic dis­ease and not a life end­ing one. For­tu­nately for me, Si­enna, Phoenix, Marsh­mal­low, our fam­ily and friends, Michelle lived an event­ful and mem­o­rable life for five years, man­ag­ing her cancer in un­ex­pected ways and by un­ex­plained means, all the while cel­e­brat­ing the com­ing of age of our chil­dren, and en­joy­ing life’s many of­fered ex­pe­ri­ences that other­wise may have gone un­no­ticed and un­re­al­ized.

She lived as she only could, and her in­spired ex­am­ple touched many, as she pub­licly and pri­vately de­fined her life’s dash, as she wanted, im­pact­ing the lives of those around her in her unas­sum­ing and im­mea­sur­able way.

Over the past sev­eral weeks since her pass­ing on Sun­day Novem­ber 18, 2018, our fam­ily has been lifted and car­ried by the gen­er­ous, com­pas­sion­ate and al­tru­is­tic love of our com­mu­nity. We can not thank you enough for your over­whelm­ing and com­fort­ing words of en­cour­age­ment and sup­port dur­ing our most dif­fi­cult time. We are hum­bled by all of your kind words and acts of kind­ness and friend­ship. Through your out­pour­ing of love and af­fec­tion for Michelle, our per­sonal mourn­ing and grief is dulled by our shared mem­oires, sto­ries and acts of re­mem­brance, that will re­main in our hearts and our minds for­ever.

Our fam­ily ex­tends our thanks to Wind­sor Chapel Fu­neral Homes, the Janisse Fam­ily, Philip Janisse, Scott Lock­wood and the en­tire team at Wind­sor Chapel, for your ex­cep­tional care, com­pas­sion, sup­port and guid­ance dur­ing our time of need. Your ex­pe­ri­ence, ef­forts and com­pas­sion al­lowed our fam­ily to fo­cus on what mat­tered the most while you and your team pro­vided for a mem­o­rable cel­e­bra­tion of life.

We also wish to recog­nise Chris Ka­vanaugh at Heav­enly Rest Fam­ily of Catholic Ceme­ter­ies for his quick re­sponse and the ex­em­plary care he took to pro­vide the most fit­ting and re­spectable place of rest for Michelle.

We are grate­ful to Her­itage Park Al­liance Church for open­ing up their home to our fam­ily and friends for the pub­lic view­ing, gra­ciously ac­com­mo­dated by their Pas­tors, ad­min­is­tra­tion, and staff.

Michelle grew up in South Wind­sor on Massey Court, and at­tended Christ the King Grade School and Holy Names High School. Through­out her child­hood and as a young adult, she was con­tin­u­ally guided by her teach­ers and by the spir­i­tual sup­port of the Christ the King and Cor­pus Christi Parish. We are eter­nally grate­ful to have had the op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate her life at Cor­pus Christi and thank Fr. Roach, Fr. Cartier, Fr. Durham, and Mon­seigneur Zouein, for pre­sid­ing and the ac­com­pa­ni­ment by the won­der­ful sounds of the Cor­pus Christi choir and long-time fam­ily friend Denise Amores.

As Mayor of Wind­sor and in her ca­pac­ity as First Lady, Michelle and I had many oc­ca­sions to ex­pe­ri­ence the ma­jes­tic, rich and proud tra­di­tions of the com­mit­ted and ded­i­cated mem­bers of the Wind­sor Po­lice Pipe Band. For over fifty years they have been lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional in their pipe band­ing, and we have for­ever memo­ri­al­ized their Amaz­ing Grace. A heart­felt thank you to the band lead­er­ship team and all the mem­bers who gave self­lessly of their time to cel­e­brate Michelle.

We also thank Po­lice Chief Al Fred­er­ick and his lead­er­ship team; the Wind­sor Po­lice Ser­vices Board; the men and women of the WPD, sworn and civil­ian; and the WPA for their ded­i­cated ser­vice to our com­mu­nity and for those who were with us on the day of the fu­neral. Your pro­fes­sion­al­ism and sup­port were ad­mired and ap­pre­ci­ated.

Michelle found great com­fort in watch­ing our chil­dren, Si­enna and Phoenix grow into their own, ex­ud­ing a pride and con­fi­dence re­flec­tive of her strength and per­son­al­ity. Of­ten their mother’s un­de­ni­able love of life is ob­vi­ous when Si­enna and Phoenix dance. Both of our chil­dren and our niece Paige are for­tu­nate to be part of Ed­munds Tow­ers School of Dance in Wind­sor, where dance com­mit­ments, prac­tices and week­ends have forged un­pen­e­tra­ble bonds of friend­ship and fam­ily; each of us sup­port­ing each other no mat­ter the time, no mat­ter the cir­cum­stance. Our me­mories of Michelle’s cel­e­bra­tion of life are for­ever en­riched by the pres­ence of our dance fam­ily and all of the young dancers who were there to sup­port Si­enna and Phoenix dur­ing their most un­fa­mil­iar and try­ing time, pay­ing trib­ute to “Dance Mom” Michelle and keep­ing her fun and high-spir­ited dance week­end an­tics alive in all of us. Thank you to all of our young dancers for your trib­ute and hon­our guard.

Grow­ing up, Michelle at­tended St. Hu­bert’s school for a pe­riod of time, and by life’s co­in­ci­dence, to­day our chil­dren at­tend the same school but un­der a dif­fer­ent name. Spe­cial thanks to Con­seil Sco­laire Catholique Prov­i­dence, M. Pi­card; M. Pype, Mme. Savary, Mme. Bas­sile, Mme Diemer, and all of the teach­ers and staff at École Mon­seigneur-Jean-Nöel for al­ways be­ing there for Si­enna, Phoenix and our fam­i­lies. Your ded­i­ca­tion, com­mit­ment and com­pas­sion for our chil­dren and all chil­dren, and their ed­u­ca­tion is un­par­al­leled; and we are eter­nally grate­ful to all of you for your con­tin­ued sup­port and care. Our hearts were filled with great emo­tion when the fu­neral pro­cessed by the school and we wit­nessed the school chil­dren and staff stand­ing at at­ten­tion with mes­sages of love and sup­port in a self­less and much ap­pre­ci­ated trib­ute to Michelle, Si­enna, Phoenix and our fam­i­lies.

Fi­nally, in her fi­nal days we were blessed to have great care pro­vided to us by many doc­tors, nurses and or­ga­ni­za­tions and we thank all of them for their pro­fes­sion­al­ism and for the dig­nity they of­fered Michelle and our fam­ily. Our ap­pre­ci­a­tion is ex­tended to CCAC; Bayshore; Bayshore Pri­vate; Paramed; Rex­all Amher­st­burg; T2B and Hospice; Melissa Doyle; and our en­tire WFCU Credit Union fam­ily.

Michael Ben­nett thank you for in­tro­duc­ing us to the won­der­ful Monique He­bert of Hospice. Monique, you have been our com­pass for the past sev­eral weeks and my chil­dren and I would be drift­ing with­out your con­tin­ued sup­port and di­rec­tion.

Michelle’s warm and gen­uine smile ex­pressed pos­i­tive pur­pose while her heart and mind re­vealed a unique and re­mark­able in­di­vid­ual al­ways com­pas­sion­ate and con­sid­er­ate of her true and gen­uine love of help­ing oth­ers. Her un­yield­ing de­ter­mi­na­tion to make a dif­fer­ence in the lives of oth­ers made a dif­fer­ence. Her relentless and per­sis­tent de­sire to make things bet­ter, made things bet­ter. Her calm­ing re­as­sur­ance, al­ways re­as­sured.

On be­half of my fam­ily, I ex­tend a thank you to our en­tire com­mu­nity, and to our friends for all of your thoughts, prayers and acts of kind­ness. Ev­ery spo­ken word, writ­ten mem­ory, heart­felt mo­ment, or quiet tear, has been real and pro­found, and I can­not be­gin to thank you enough for re­mind­ing us of how she im­pacted so many, and for keep­ing her mem­ory alive in the eyes, minds and hearts of our chil­dren, and those of us that love and miss her dearly.

On be­half of the Fran­cis and Prince fam­i­lies, thank you and keep danc­ing.

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