We all had the same plane to catch, on Friday, October 19, Air Canada 893, to Montreal. The Fairchilds and Martins live there, and I had a eulogy to give for Paul Terni at 5:00 pm, Montreal time. We caught the 9:00 am shuttle from the Hilton – Rome Airport, for our 11:45 am flight. It would have been plenty of time, had there only been two or three wheelchair passengers, as we had one of them. However, there were a bunch of them. I heard eleven. Our wheelchair passenger ended up walking, with the aid of a luggage cart, but it didn’t help much, as a good five of them didn’t have the option.
We ended up missing breakfast entirely, and we reported it to Air Canada and the airport officials. They should take notice, too, because the plane had to wait for all they wheelchair bound passengers to be aboard. It wasn’t their fault. They were all there two hours before takeoff. The plane took off a whole hour late and only made up 10 minutes of it.
Instead of touching down at 2:40 pm, it was 3:30 pm. Thank the Universe for the Fairchilds’ daughter, Christa, who was picking them up. I couldn’t have got a taxi anywhere near as quickly. I walked through the door of the beautiful Mount Royal Funeral Complex, on the dot of five, and slipped into the second row, on the extreme right. Just behind the family. I was scheduled second to last, just before Paul’s daughter, Jennifer, herself.
When the MC called on me, Jennifer rose to tell everyone my plane was late, and I had not made it. I was standing just behind her and gave her a surprise hug, before I took the stage. This is what I said:
Paul Terni, my boss, my mentor, my tenant, my travel buddy, my client, my patient, my friend.
As Paul reminded me himself, the week before he died, it was 46 years ago when I walked into the office of the new IBM Ed Center manager, and asked him “Do you play Bridge?” and then “Do you drink?” Affirmative answers got Paul and Andrea into the best Bridge group, ever. We met once a month, on a Saturday night, played all seven rounds of Chicago, drank like fish, ate a gourmet meal, prepared by the hosts, and three couples drove home, while the fourth cleaned up. It was usually around 4:00 am on Sunday.
Every good manager finds a few subordinates they and can trust with any project. Paul found that in me and took me with him.
When my then-husband was one of the salesmen on the Air Canada proposal team in the early ‘70s, and Paul was in charge of the Technical Support Team, he added me to it. After months of technical work, the proposal itself was getting out of control—all four two-inch binders of it. We were up against a deadline and the thing was a mess. Paul was called in and he devised a plan. It involved putting one person on point and filtering all documents through her. That would have been me. I sat at a terminal for 28 hours straight. They fed me at my desk, but nothing went into the final version, when I had to go to the bathroom. We printed, bound and delivered the proposal in time. We still lost, but Paul had made me a hero.
Paul switched to sales after that, heading up the Canadian Pacific team, three salesmen and four systems engineers, and I was one of them. When CP went Amdahl, IBM, in its infinite wisdom, kept the team together twiddling its thumbs for almost a year. We all found our own ways out, of the company, and went on to better things.
Right around then, Brock and I split, and when my dog was six years old, she had lived in seven houses. The last one was 425 Victoria, in the heart of Westmount village. When I took it into my head to try my luck in Hong Kong I needed a tenant, who would manage the duplex. Paul and Andrea were in the process of selling their TMR house and moving to Magog. They needed a pied à terre, where Andrea could teach yoga and Paul could keep working, during the week. Next thing you know, we had another wonderful relationship.
When I came back from Hong Kong, five years later, re-married, Elvon and I went to live in the Napa Valley, and moved in with the Ternis in Westmount, for a month or two every summer. Just like family.
We spent a lot of time with them in Magog, over the last 25 years, and we went a lot farther afield.
Traveling with Paul was special, as he spoke seven languages, which meant you could always get help, anywhere. We spent our month in Fonte Vetriana, Italy, as if we were Italian, ourselves. Not only did we visit just about every town in Tuscany, there was a reunion of no less than five of Paul’s classmates from the very chichi Victoria School, in Alexandria, Egypt.
We cruised with the Ternis, all over Europe, we visited them in Magog, and they visited us in the Napa Valley.
We went to Jennifer’s wedding to Phil, at their home in Magog. Jennifer baked her own cake and I helped decorate it. It was the best wedding cake I ever tasted.
Michael married Cullen in the Eastern Townships, too. I’ll never forget the fireworks. If you are laughing. You were there.
Ten years ago, Paul celebrated his 70th birthday in Puerto Escondido, where they had been wintering for a couple of years. He said he was tired of celebrating Jesus Christ’s birthday, every December 25th and wanted to celebrate his own. We joined them, and repeated that for two more years, until it became too difficult for my husband, and we took to sailing around the world in the winter.
We mourned with Paul, Andrea, Jennifer, and Cullen, when Michael died in a tragic hockey accident. And I came up for a week to give Andrea and Jennifer a break, when Paul needed company, and a hospital advocate, all day, every day, while he fought to come back from a four-way heart bypass operation, done under what the hospital calls “dirty conditions”, meaning there was infection in his system. Not many people make it out of that situation.
But Paul did. He was a quiet fighter, and a very good one. You rarely saw him upset. He would just put his head down and get it. He made love, not war, and he won his wars.
This year, he met a battle he could not win. But he was ready, and with his usual quiet grace, he simply bid us all farewell, and left. The last time I was with him, his doctor called. I handed him the phone and he said: “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes” in a strong even voice, as she detailed the arrangements to him. When he got off the phone, we had a little laugh about them not taking “Yes” for an answer.
I’ll never have a better friend, nor one I could respect more.
Upcoming: 3 nice cruises
For those of you who have been asking where I go next, that’s Buenos Aires to San Antonio, on Celebrity, Eclipse, December 23, with add-ons in BA and the Chilean Wine country. https://tinyurl.com/2018BAtoChile
If you want Asia, I have TWO choices for you:
I’ll be hosting on Celebrity – Millennium – March 30, Shanghai to Tokyo, 14 days
Celebrity Millenium – Shanghai to Tokyo – 2 back-to-back China/Korea and Japanese Explorer: https://tinyurl.com/2019ShanghaiTokyo
Start with a few days in Shanghai, then”
- Beijing – 2 overnights
- Jeju Island, South Korea
- Kobe, Japan – overnight
- Mt Fuji
End in Tokyo –Stay a few days there. I have good friends to help me script that.
Then, I have four exceptionally nice ladies from L.A. who are going, Shanghai to Singapore, also on Celebrity, in February. I have been working with these gals for a few months, and they are all lovely. They like to travel well, and they don’t quibble. I have some pretty nice stuff lined up for them. Read my own Asia blog from last February, to get the flavor. They’d be happy to have a couple more people along to share private tours, etc.
Email me about any of these, or anything else you want. I’ll be home when you get this.