A man was reunited with his mother’s book from over 50 years ago after discovering it at a community fundraiser, completely by chance.
Jean Lechasseur was walking around with his wife on April 27 when they decided to peruse a garage sale held for Terrace Relay for Life on Lakelse Avenue.
“We were just looking for a place to eat at the time,” said Lechasseur, who mentioned it was initially his wife’s idea to stop by the fundraiser. “We were having a look and going around the perimeter when we made it to the books, and she just pointed it out.”
The book, titled Le Francais Pratique, meaning Practice French in English, was sitting amid several other French novels. Once Lechasseur opened the green front cover, he saw a map of Quebec and immediately recognized the inscription written inside as his own mother’s handwriting, who had passed away 24 years ago.
“I thought, ‘that is so bizarre’,” he said. “It’s like the Twilight Zone or something.”
As he looked through the pages, he saw little-handwritten notes from his mother in the side margins, who had used the book to help teach herself English after their family moved from Quebec to Terrace in the early 1970s.
He said he recognized his mother’s handwriting from the various scribblings she would leave on recipes and notes kept around the house when he was growing up.
“So I just knew it was her,” he said. “It was really wild to find that, and it just warms the heart because… even if I never read the book another word, to me it’s gold, it’s diamond.”
Lechasseur was 11-years-old, one of 13 children, when his family moved to Terrace in hopes of finding a better life in a healthier economy. His step-father was able to find work as a logger, where he got paid $80-a-day as opposed to $1.35 an hour back in Quebec.
“This was the promised land for them,” he said.
He said he believes the wife of the family who originally donated the items is actually the oldest child in his stepfather’s family after speaking with Denise Coulter, one of the organizer’s of the garage sale.
“Her mom and my mom used to be the ‘bosom friends’,” he said, smiling. “They used to talk on the phone for hours… they were inseparable, ” Lechasseur said. He believes that’s why the book was kept within that family for the past 24 years because it was a reminder of their friendship.
While Lechasseur said he thinks his mother understood English more than she was able to speak it, she used the book frequently because of how often she wrote within its pages.
“You remember these things about your mother then,” he said as he flipped through the book. “Of course, we were mischievous kids and we did all sorts of funny, stupid things, but your mother…that’s a jewel. That’s the jewel of the family.”
Lechasseur said he hopes to have the book rebound, while still keeping its authenticity, to put on display in his library for years to come.