Her husband died four years ago. She still writes love poems to him every Sunday
'I started writing and it was like a call'
Adèle Fontaine writes a poem to her husband every Sunday.
It's a ritual that has helped Fontaine process her grief since he died.
"I started writing 40 days and 40 nights after his death," Fontaine said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.
"And when I started writing and it was like a call.
"As soon as a small tear came into my eyes, I knew I was on the right path. And I think that the tear has always guided me a little bit in this whole thing."
Fontaine was married to Normand Fontaine for 53 years. Together, they had seven children.
When he died four years ago, Fontaine said she felt compelled to "continue the conversation" and connect again with the man she loved.
She had never been one to write poetry, but something had shifted. She found a new way to cope.
Fontaine's new self-published book, My Sundays with Normand, is a collection of some her deeply personal works.
"Often I would get up in the morning, quickly make a coffee, forget to drink it and just sit there and write this poem," she said.
"Often, if I didn't wake up fast enough, I would hear Norman's voice calling, 'Wake up, wake up.'"
Fontaine died Nov. 25, 2014, in Edmonton a few weeks after suffering a stroke during open-heart surgery.
An accomplished radio broadcaster and announcer, Fontaine had been an an enduring presence in the Francophone community in Alberta through his radio career of 37 years.
He retired from Radio-Canada in 1995, devoting himself to painting, writing poetry and short stories, and doting on his children.
He was a warm, larger-than-life presence on the airwaves and in their home, Fontaine said.
"He was an absolutely delightful man who was an artist and a writer and a radio man," she said.
"And he was an amazing father who had a very close relationship with everyone one of his children."
When his health failed, Fontaine was gutted. They were told open-heart surgery would clear the blockages in his heart.
He never left the hospital. Following the stroke, Normand spent a month in intensive care before his heart finally gave out.
"We brought his art and music into the intensive care and just stayed and danced with him and sang with him even though he couldn't speak any more," Fontaine said.
"Every one once in awhile when he heard some music that he loved, he would start being the maestro and keeping time to the music.
"It was a difficult month with him but we did survive."
She continues to write in honour of her late husband, drawing inspiration from Normand's passion for the arts, his family and their love.
"I think have probably more than 300 poems at this time and I do keep doing them every Sunday," she said.
"As a friend said to me … Normand's death birthed a poet."
Here is an example of one of Fontaine's poems.
Written August 19, 2018, it's called, I got a speeding ticket;
I got a speeding ticket
I know you'd tease me
Of me seducing
The police officer
Sometimes you'd write
A fake ticket
For some other
Like the bad home repair
Guys I found
Tes hommes de confiance
Valent pas la shnotte
The last winter
Of your life
You found us the best
Snow shoveler ever
Yet we both failed badly
At finding good medical care
To the heart of the matter
I gave you drops
Of orange nectar
As you lay dying
Because I forgot
How much you loved