A leader. A writer. A man of action. A friend.
At first glance you may want to yell for help, run for your life or beg him for mercy. He had “that” look about him. But once you got beyond his exterior appearance you realized this tough crust hid layers and layers of goodness. And brilliance.
Ever heard of Brian Mulroney? He was Canada’s Prime Minister (during the Reagan days? Or was it Bush Sr?). And Michel was his aid, his press secretary.
I had the honor and the pleasure of working with Michel.
The government threatened to close down this little neighborhood hospital in Ottawa, Canada’s capital. A group of us jumped in to save this hospital. We decided there was NO way anybody was going to shut down OUR hospital. It was ours because of a small detail: it staffed mainly French speaking professionals. Being the only hospital of it’s kind outside of Quebec, we just couldn’t idly sit by and let them do this. To us.
When you’re sick you want to be able to say or shout “Merde j’ai mal!” without having to search or think twice about your words. To our small group it was a matter of life.
We called ourselves S.O.S. Montfort. We had a chosen spokesperson: Gisèle Lalonde. And we had a chosen mastermind behind our operation: Michel Gratton. To see this ex Prime Minister’s Press Secretary talk to Gisèle and call her “ma tante” (he was after all her nephew) was priceless and revealed what very few ever witnessed – a vulnerable side.
For starters you’ve got a dude who looks like a biker and potentially a killer. Second, this tough dude was once a big wig on Parliament Hill. And he called this sweet little old lady (ex Maire) “ma tante”. MA TANTE!
A brilliant guy I’m telling you. He’s authored more books than most of my (racing) friends have read! He was found dead in his apartment this week-end. Found dead. What a sad tragic end to a fucking amazing existence…
Bye mon ami, tu vas tellement me manquer. Tu as été une source d’inspiration et sans le savoir, tu m’as changé. Merci. Tu ne seras jamais oublié…
p.s. I know I promised a “reader’s choice” for my next post, but this took precedence. I will come back with said promise…