Maxine, my good friend from elementary school had returned home to her mother and to Nova Scotia, the place of her birth.
Maxine, while here in Montreal, lived with her father and his new wife. It was a blended family with children from both marriages living in the same house. Since I was constantly at the house I was practically considered one of the children myself. I spent more time in Maxine's home as a teenager, than I did in my own. When Maxine left, I still continued to visit the family.
It was during this period that the relationship between Maxine's step mother and I had changed. Jose, the step mother was still young (28 years old) and I was 16. Maxine's father was considerably older. I would guess that he was around 50 at the time. Jose had two children from her previous marriage and a child with Maxine's father. The child, Tanya, was a baby at the time. Jose came from a different part of the city and did not know many people. Maxine's father being an older man was extremely jealous of his young wife's beauty and guarded her every move. He was very particular about the people she was allowed to associate with. He always feared that she would leave him for a younger man. However, I was no threat to him. It was perhaps because of this reason that Jose and I became the best of friends, despite the age difference.
For four years we were the best of friends and despite my tender years, I was indeed the only person that Jose could turn to when she needed some one to talk to. Her marriage started to crumble and she was extremely unhappy. There were many arguments and Jose would come to me for support. Eventually the marriage failed. Maxine's father returned to Nova Scotia with his son but left Jose to her own means here in Montreal with her three children; two from her previous marriage and Tanya.
Living alone was not easy for a single mother with three young children. Jose sent her older children to live with their own father and she kept Tanya. But Jose began to change. Now that she was literally free with no man to control her, she let her wild side surface. It seemed that what Maxine's father feared was now happening but only after the marriage had broken up and he had left her. Jose had a series of boyfriend's who did not seem to stay around long enough to make a commitment. However I feared they stayed long enough to make an impression on Tanya.
As for me personally, I had lost the first love of my life and after 4 years I still did not date. I was very quiet and reserved; nothing like Jose at all. Yet we remained friends and on occasion I would go with her to meet her latest boyfriend.
It was as if it was yesterday. I can remember the day so vividly. It was Victoria Day here in Canada on May 24, 1975. It was a beautiful day; hot and sunny. Since I had the day off from work I decided to make a visit to Jose's apartment. I hadn't bothered to call her before I arrived. I figured she would be home anyhow. When I got there she was practically on her way out the door with Tanya to meet her boyfriend so she asked me to come along.
They were meeting in the local park nicknamed Pigeon Park which was the local hangout for young people at the time.
Off we went. When we got there Jose met all kinds of young men that she knew. Of course I didn't know a soul. Jose never got to see her boyfriend that day but she did meet a young man there who was also quiet and reserved. She introduced him to me. His name was Tony Roach. The four of us sat at the base of the statue of a Canadian explorer in the center of the park. Jose and Tony talked and shared cigarettes all day long while I more or less entertained Tanya. I was too shy and reserved to talk to this stranger though I found him handsome.
Before you knew it the sun had set and it started to get chilly in the evening breeze. I sat shivering but never said a word. I was still waiting for Jose to make the first move and to say it was time to leave. She never did. Instead she announced that she was cold and Tony, the gentleman that he was, offered her his jacket. Now I felt kind of silly, I was the one sitting here shivering and she was the one that got the jacket.
I got up and announced that I was going home. Both of them looked up oblivious to the obvious and ask me why I wanted to leave. Jose was fine with me going but Tony surprised me. He had said very little to me all day yet now he stated that he didn't want me to go and he would keep me warm by putting his arms around me. I don't know what got me to agree. It was totally out of character for me but I felt compelled to be with this young man.
Once I got to sitting beside him we began to talk and he told me that he was a recent immigrant from Barbados. I hung onto his every word. He was 19 years old, lived with his uncle here in Montreal and was very homesick. My heart went out to this young man. It also helped that he was gorgeous. He had the greenest eyes that I had ever seen and I was intoxicated by his charm. By this time Jose was getting impatient and she was ready to go home. He did not object when she announced that she was leaving either. All his attention was directed towards me.
Later that evening when I really had to leave, he asked me for a date of sorts. He invited me to go to the lake the next day and to bring Tanya along. No mention was made of Jose. Normally, I would have said no to a date because I just did not date. But because this was truly an unconventional date I accepted.
The following morning I went to work and announced to my co-workers that I had met the man I was going to marry. My heart was so full of joy, something I had not experienced in a long while. Frankly they thought I was crazy but I knew in my soul that it was meant to be. Eleven months later the wedding took place.