“We’re all pretty separated; it’s not like it was before,” Jacques said of his family. “But on Christmas, we’re all together.”
Every year, Jacques and his three adult children gather at his home in Greenfield Park to celebrate the holidays. Usually, the gang will bundle up and head over to a restaurant for dinner. On the occasional Christmas Eve, Jacques said he might be invited to a friend’s house.
“But that’s very rare,” he said. “Every once in a while.”
Jacques, 76, lives by himself in low-cost housing. He relies on a small pension to get by and uses a mobility scooter to move from place to place.
“I can’t walk for a long time,” he said. “That’s what’s difficult for me. … There are functions I can do and there are functions I can’t do.”
On a typical day, Jacques will take a stroll around the neighbourhood on his scooter, if the weather permits it. His girlfriend will pick him up for a drive every now and again, and sometimes they’ll go to a show. He said his children stop by for visits and help him out when they can.
Though Jacques counts barriers to mobility as one of the biggest challenges he faces, he takes pride in his autonomy.
“I live my life by myself regardless; it just takes a bit more time (for me to do things), that’s all.”
Despite being fully capable of taking care of himself, Jacques isn’t afraid to acknowledge when he needs help. This past year, he underwent surgery for an ulcer in his bladder, and his girlfriend was there to help him through the recovery process.
“This year has been a little bit rough because of that, and because of the temperature, too,” Jacques said, explaining that it’s harder for him to move around when the weather isn’t on his side.
Right now, Jacques is waiting for an appointment at the hospital because he fears the ulcer may have come back.
“I really hope it hasn’t,” he said.
Jacques’s favourite Christmas memories go back nearly two decades, when his mother and relatives on her side of the family were still alive and everyone would celebrate together.
“I’m the last one,” he said, saying he misses his mother. “There’s no one left in my family.”
This year, Jacques will be one of the thousands of Montrealers in need to receive a $125 cheque from the Montreal Gazette Christmas Fund. The fund helps make the holidays a little easier for those in tough situations.
Jacques plans to use the money to purchase food or perhaps a nice sweater or dress shirt.
“It’s a little boost,” Jacques said. “It makes me feel good.”
How to help
To help Jacques, donate online at www.christmasfund.com. Donors can also mail or drop off their contributions at the following address: 2055 Peel St., Suite 700, Montreal, Quebec H3A 1V4