Marie Annette Jacqueline Wudrich is my mother.
She was born in Hull, Quebec in December of 1946. The same year that Richard was.
Similar to my father, I know nothing about her really.
I know nothing about her parents other than her father died around 1974 due to a heart attack and her mother died from an epileptic seizure.
She had two brothers. Jean-Yves and Albert.
Albert Dagenais and my father had to take the same educational upgrading prior to joining the Royal Canadian Navy in 1963. In 1965 when Marie went to visit Al in Halifax that is where she met Richard. At the time Al told Marie to steer clear of Richard as Richard was a good guy, but he messed around with women. Marie didn’t listen. Richard’s skills were too good for her to resist.
Marie and Richard were married in 1968.
After the HMCS Kootenay incident in 1969 Richard became like an animal. His drinking was out of hand and his anger could be set off with little provocation.
Marie was having second thoughts about the marriage but she ended up pregnant with me around the end of December 1970. This apparently happened in a snow bank because Richard couldn’t wait until they got back to the apartment they were living in.
I don’t remember much of my childhood with her. She left around the summer of 1977 on CFB Summerside. I would have been about 5. I do remember that she used to do yoga a lot, and one of her moves was to have me stand on her feet as she was laying on her back. She would then straighten up her legs and lift me up.
She bowled in one of the 5-pin leagues at the base recreation centre.
She was the one that would read books to me, I don’t ever remember Richard reading a book to me.
I very vaguely remember the fights and the arguments between Richard and Marie. I also very vaguely remember the sleep overs and visits that I would often have.
I remember Marie driving the big black Thunderbird whereas Richard was always riding his motorcycle. I remember her always getting panicky driving over the two bridges in Halifax.
Once we arrived on CFB Summerside I do remember her crying a lot. There was a lot of door slamming and yelling.
Then one day Marie took my brother and I over to another PMQ. She said that no one loved her, that I didn’t love her, that my brother didn’t love her. And then she was gone.
I was 5. My brother would have been about 3. This is probably one reason he doesn’t have any memories of her or what Shearwater and Summerside were like.
The next time I saw Marie was just after we had moved to CFB Namao in Alberta, so this would have been after August of 1978. I’m fairly certain that this was before Andy Anderson slipped and fell in the bathtub. Grandma had told me about the visit. Grandma also said that I was never to tell Richard about the visit otherwise this would be the last time that Marie would come to see us.
Richard wasn’t living with us on base, it was just grandma and Andy. After Andy’s fall in the bathtub then it was just grandma. So, for grandma to arrange a visit with Marie wouldn’t have been an issue, but grandma knew there would be trouble if Richard found out that grandma had allowed Marie to see my brother and I.
In the late spring of 1982 Richard and Sue got married. My brother and I were given $50 each and told to go to the mall and hang out for the day and not come back until it started to get dark.
In the summer of 1982 Richard dropped my brother and I off in Calgary with Marie. I honestly have no idea how the hell this got worked out. But Richard wanted to take Sue to Banff for camping. I wouldn’t find out until after Richard picked my brother and I up that Richard and Sue had gone for their honeymoon.
The next time I would see my mother was on my birthday in 1982. We were living on Canadian Forces Base Griesbach at the time. If it wasn’t for my foster care records I would never have known the details of this.
Marie showed up to take me out for my birthday. Richard was away on a training exercise otherwise Marie would never have dared to step foot on a military base. Sue allowed Marie to take me, but Sue was not going to allow Marie to take my brother as well. Was Sue being spiteful or was Sue just worried that Marie might run off with Richard’s kids? Either is possible.
What I remember the most about the day is that Marie slammed on the brakes of her car before we drove off base. She was angry. Very angry. I could see the anger seething out of her. Her friend Karen was asking Marie to calm down. Marie threw the car in reverse and drove backwards back to the PMQ. She slammed on the brakes again and told me to get out. Then she drove off again.
The social service reports talk about this and how I had emotionally crashed and wouldn’t talk to anyone for about a week.
I wouldn’t see Marie again until the summer of 1990 when I took my father up on his invitation for me to move back to Alberta with him on his final posting so that we could “try to be a family again”.
Just after we got settled into PMQ #120 at 13711 – 102nd street uncle Doug showed up. His truck had broken down north of the city and his pregnant wife was with the truck and he needed someone to replace the water pump. Richard voluntold me to go fix it. So I took Doug over to Crappy Tire, we bought water, coolant, a new water pump, a new thermostat, gaskets, RTV Sealant, and a new belt. And when I say we, I mean me.
Doug and I drove up to Bon Accord in my Plymouth Horizon.
Two things we talked about on the way up was if I wanted to see my mother. Doug knew where my mother was but Marie wasn’t sure if I wanted to see her. So I told Doug that I was up for a meeting. This is also when Doug wanted to know if I wanted to get my metis papers. Doug said that I was not to tell my father about Marie or the metis papers as both would enrage Richard.
Marie and I met at the food court in North Gate Mall.
There were no tears, or hugs, or crying.
We were both heavily damaged and it showed.
I went to see Marie a few times at the acreage she and her husband Art owned out by Wabamum Lake.
Richard had bought a house in Morinville off of one of his airforce buddies.
I didn’t last too long in that house, maybe a week or two, before Sue and I had a row over a telephone call. There was probably more to Sue kicking me out of the house than just that phone call. I think Richard had lied to her and said that I was going to go back to school.
I ended up staying at the YMCA in downtown Edmonton for a few days. Luckily I still had my money from the Canshare job.
I ended up staying with Marie out at the acreage. Marie and her husband Art had separate bedrooms. When I came to stay Marie gave me her bedroom and she took the fold out in the living room.
Marie had poodles.
One of the first things that became apparent was that Marie was very racist as was Art. At the time Marie worked for the “Alberta Report” which was part of the lunatic right. It wasn’t uncommon for the words n***er or c**n or p**i to be said in their household.
One time Marie and I were coming back to the acreage from Edmonton. We stopped at a Dairy Queen in Stony Plain. As we were eating our food Marie started to get a look of disgust on her face. She kept nodding for me to look behind me. So I turned around and looked. There was an older East Indian couple having burgers and fries. I looked back at her and asked “what?”. She said “those people don’t belong here. They’re going to ruin this country”.
I spent the next few days after work looking for an apartment in the city.
Sometime after my brother arrived from Ontario, Sue kicked him out of the house in Morinville as well. Richard dumped my brother off at my place stating that looking after my brother was the least I could do considering how much my father had done raising my brother and I. My brother didn’t last too long at my place, three days tops.
Crazy Walter, the perverted landlord had called me at work one day at the Bronx complaining about the loud music coming from my apartment. And in three days he had eaten all of the groceries in my apartment.
Marie picked my brother up and took him out to the acreage. He wouldn’t be at the acreage too long before he’d be sent back to Morinville. I don’t exactly understand how that worked out other than my brother would have been 16 at the time and after all these years of claiming to have sole custody Richard couldn’t just throw a 16 year old out on the streets. I’m thinking that If my brother stayed with my mother Richard would have had to cough up child support until my brother’s 18th birthday. I was 18 when Sue kicked me out, so tough titty for me.
I worked at the Bronx Bowling centre on 127th street from August of 1990 until June of 1991. At the time I only had grade 8. But I had good skills in electronics and I could repair the circuit boards in the pinsetting equipment, so I was a good find for Sports Holdings Ltd. But the job didn’t pay much above welfare wages.
Marie embarrassed the fuck out of me when she hired an exotic signing dancer for my birthday in September of 1990. To be honest she didn’t know about what I had been through for the previous ten years. Marie also probably didn’t know that except for my 14th birthday in September of 1985 I really hadn’t had any birthday parties since she left in 1977. But it was embarrassing none the less. Marie had set this up with Kathy Forrester, the manager of the centre, and Val, the league coordinator.
One of the bowlers in one of the leagues had told me that I could become a courier and make lots of money and that this would be a great fit for someone who didn’t have technical diplomas or a strong educational background.
Art helped me to modify my car into a miniature car van by removing the rear seats and building a plywood parcel platform.
Marie asked me why I quit a job where everyone liked me. I told her that I was sick and tired of not ever being able to get above welfare wages with the exception of the Canshare Cabling job. She asked me why I didn’t just apply to technical school to get my certificates. When I told her that I only had a grade 8 education she went through the roof. “That fucking asshole Richard! What the fuck has he done? Grade 8 was good enough for him so it’s good enough for you?”.
She got me the phone number and the address of the office where I’d have to go to apply for my grade 12 G.E.D. In two months I had my grade 12 G.E.D..
Sometime after my brother had arrived in Alberta and had visited Marie a few times at the acreage I went to the acreage for a weekend. As soon as I walked in the door, she said “Sit down, we need to talk”. She was fucking pissed. She said “Tell me about this fucking babysitter”. I looked at her in shock. I never told her about P.S.. The only person who would have told her would have been my brother. I said “What babysitter?”. She said “The one who molested your brother, did this asshole touch you too?”
At that point in time it was about ten years since the abuse on CFB Namao had come to an end. At that point in time it was less than 7 years since my last session with Captain Terry Totzke who had insisted that I was a homosexual and that I had allowed P.S. to molest my younger brother. At that point in time it was less than 4 years since Richard had laid a massive beating on me because my younger brother was getting in to trouble that Richard had deemed was obviously a direct result of me having allowed the babysitter to touch my younger brother.
I got up from the kitchen table. I walked out the door. She kept yelling at me for me to come back and tell her what had happened to my younger brother.
I drove back to Edmonton. It was so fucking tempting to drive the my car into an overpass embankment or an overpass support. I pulled over to the side of the Yellowhead and I cried for a while realizing that I was never going to be free of CFB Namao, it was always going to be coming for me, and now here was my own mother blaming me for what I had obviously made the babysitter do.
I went up to CFB Namao for the final time and talked to the military police about laying charges against P.S.. Nope, he’s a civilian, blah-blah-blah…..
I didn’t talk to my mother for a while after that.
We met up somewhere, I can’t remember where, but we went out for dinner.
On the way back she asked me a very peculiar question. A question that still haunts me to this day.
As we pulled into the driveway of the acreage she said she wanted to ask me a question. She said that she didn’t want to upset me like the last time but she wanted an answer.
“Did your father ever touch you?”
It took me a bit before I answered. All I could say to Marie is that I was pretty sure that he never touched me, but that if I had been born a girl I don’t think that I would have been safe from Richard.
Marie never pushed that question again. She would never say why she had asked me that question in the first place.
I ended up on welfare not too long after I started working for the courier company. The one thing they never tell you about being a courier driving your own vehicle is that it is deadly expensive for the first couple of years until you establish yourself.
Marie helped me with the welfare applications.
She didn’t understand why I didn’t want to do a refrigeration apprenticeship with Art.
At that point in my life I still had a very low opinion of myself and I didn’t think that I would ever find meaningful employment.
Lynnwood Lanes in Edmonton was advertising for a head mechanic for their Brunswick pinsetters. I didn’t have the Brunswick factory certification required, but the centre manager who interviewed me said that he knew of a few centres in the Vancouver area that would probably hire me and send me for certification in Michigan if they liked me.
I had no money other than my welfare cheque so Marie agreed to drive to Burnaby, BC with me to go for an interview at Brentwood lanes.
On the way down and on the way back we fought like cats and dogs. I was too much like my father apparently. I wasn’t telling her the truth about the babysitter. Why wasn’t I interested in women? Was I an alcoholic like Richard?
I didn’t get the job at Brentwood, but during the interview the manager gave me the phone number for a Brunswick owned and operated bowling centre in West Vancouver. He said to call the centre in about one month as he heard that two of their mechanics were leaving to open their own bowling centre.
When I got back to Edmonton I called the phone number. I gave Phil some of my references and contacts for him to check. I called back a couple of days later. I was told that if I wanted to start at the end of the month the job was mine. So I decided to not pay rent with my last welfare cheque. I quietly cleared out and cleaned my apartment. And without telling anyone I moved to Vancouver.
When I got to Vancouver I telephoned Marie to let her know where I was.
She fucking exploded. “You goddamn little bastard, you don’t care who you walk over, you’re just like Richard”. She then told me that she never wanted to hear from me again and that I was never to contact her again.
She slammed the phone down.
I decided to wait a couple of months before trying to call her back.
The acreage where she lived was on a party line. I called her a couple of times, and after letting the phone ring for a while one of the other residents on the party line would pick up and ask me to not let the phone ring for so long.
In 2013 I had to track Marie down to ask her some questions in relation to a series of answers that I had received from my father when I examined him for my application for judicial review in the Federal Court of Canada.
I knew the company that Art had worked for and as it turns out Art’s son had purchased the company years ago and was now the president. I gave them my phone number to pass on to Terry. Terry called me and gave me Marie’s phone number.
I called Marie. I used my dead name when I spoke with her. There was no way she would have even known that I had legally changed my name and I didn’t want to confuse her. The first thing she said is “I thought you were dead”. The news that I was in fact still alive and not dead didn’t seem to impress her too much. I got the sense the she had long ago resigned herself to leaving the past in the past and never thinking about it much anymore.
She went on to explain that when she hit 65 and retired she had to prove that she had had children when she applied for CPP. When she applied for my birth certificate she was told that my certificate was sealed and unavailable.
I explained to her that I had changed my name and why I had changed my name.
She asked me if I was gay. I didn’t answer. She said that she suspected that my father was and that there had been some questionable incidents on Shearwater, but that that type of stuff happens when guys spend so much time together on the ships with no women.
She asked me why I hadn’t tried to call her before. I told her that I had tried to call their acreage in the summer of 1992 after I thought she would have calmed down but there was never any answer. She explained that Art and her sold the acreage that spring. They went off to Regina and stayed in one of Terry’s houses there while Art was working on a gas compressor. After that they moved to Kelowna and stayed at another one of Terry’s houses while Art was working on an ammonia refrigeration plant. Then they moved to Calgary and stayed in one of Terry’s houses again. Then they moved up to Edmonton and stayed in another one of Terry’s houses while Art was doing a refrigeration job for Labatt’s. Then they were off to Peachland, and a few other places before both Marie and Art retired and moved into another one of Terry’s houses in Calgary.
I told her about the judicial review and that I wanted to ask her some question and that I’d like to come out to visit her.
I saw her over the xmas holidays of 2013.
Art and Marie were living in one of Terry’s houses. Terry had purchased various houses in cities throughout western Canada for the technicians with his refrigeration company to stay at when they were in town servicing equipment. And I should clarify, Terry’s company didn’t service refrigerators or air conditioners. They serviced ammonia refrigeration plants in hockey rinks and breweries, they also serviced natural gas compressors at natural gas plants. Big ticket items. So having these houses made sense.
Anyways, the house was barren. Not too much in the way of furnishings. Marie had a stockpile of pictures that I never knew existed which we took to Staples and had scanned.
Sadly Art and Marie were even more racist than the last time I had seen them in the early ’90s.
I think that old age and resentment had turned her into a bitter person.
Marie didn’t really venture out anywhere except to smoke on the front porch.
Marie and Art were content to watch Fox News and COPS all day long. It was fucking weird. When COPS was on Marie would make the obvious comments that n***ers weren’t as advanced as whites and that’s why they’re always being arrested. Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi was apparently a muslim terrorist who had no business being the mayor of a Canadian city.
Art hauled out some cassettes that he was proud of. David Allen Coe and a bunch of other overtly racist “novelty country and western signers” that were so racist in their lyrics that even the profoundly deaf could hear the dog whistles.
I got the answers that I needed of the past that I needed. But there were many more that Marie feigned ignorance about. It wasn’t until after I showed her the conversations that I had with Pat Longmore that she had admitted that Richard got physically violent with not only her, but with my brother and I as well. She admitted that we had gone to stay with various people until Richard would cool down.
I showed her the email I had received from the PEI government stating that Richard had never been granted custody of my brother and I. She said that it was because it wasn’t the civilian courts that had granted Richard custody. It had been the Canadian Forces Judge Advocate General that had issued Richard custody of my brother and I. I explained to her that the Judge Advocate General never became involved with civilian matters in Canada, especially not matters of child custody.
She explained that Richard started drinking hard on Summerside. The posting to Summerside wasn’t one that Richard really wanted, but he was wearing out his welcome on Shearwater with his antics. Richard had started getting even more physical on Summerside with Marie as Marie’s brother Al was no longer around to serve as a deterrent to Richard. After Richard had come home one night after drinking and smashed up everything in the basement out of frustration she decided that she needed to get my brother and I away from Richard. She was going to take my brother and I to stay with Uncle Al in Dartmouth. She told Richard that she was leaving for a while and that she was taking my brother and I. She said that a couple of days later the military police from CFB Summerside attended the PMQ and told Marie that if she attempted to leave the island with my brother and I that the military police from CFB Halifax would be waiting for her on the other side and that she would be charged with child endangerment and kidnapping. Marie said that a few days later that an officer from the Judge Advocate General’s office had come to the PMQ and served her with papers that showed that the office of the JAG had just granted Richard sole custody and that she was to vacate the PMQ and that if she ever came back that she’d be charged with trespassing on a defence establishment.
I should clarify something peculiar about the house we lived in while my father was stationed at CFB Summerside. The house, which is at 353 High Street in the City of Summerside is not on what was Canadian Forces Base Summerside. So how could the military police have had jurisdiction? The housing development that we lived in was part of the Hillcrest Housing Development. It was built in the late ’50s by a private company specifically for the Canadian Armed Forces. The housing development was then leased to the Department of National Defence on a perpetual lease which ended when CFB Summerside shut down in the ’90s. Due to language contained in both the National Defence Act and the Defence Establishment Trespass Regulations any property that the Department of National Defence leases is then considered to be a defence establishment and the military has jurisdiction.
The famous story Richard used to regale everyone with about how I hated my brother so much that I pushed him and his walker down the basement stairs in Shearwater was a wee bit of an exaggeration on Richard’s part. Richard was getting drunk and watching hockey on TV. Marie was in the basement doing washing. Richard was yelling at me to get my mother to come get my brother as my brother was bothering Richard while Richard was watching his hockey. Being that I was 3 years old at the time I opened the door to the basement to go tell my mother that my father wanted her to come get my brother. According to Marie, before I even got two steps down the basement stairs the walker came crashing down the stairs. Richard was furious because now his hockey game was interrupted for a trip to the hospital. She knew who was to blame, but Richard would never own up to it.
Another story she laid to waste was the crashing of the Thunderbird. First, she corrected me with the fact that the T-bird belonged to Richard and not her. Then she said that the crash was not caused by another driver like Richard had told me. No one ran a red light. No one rear ended him and pushed him into the intersection. No one had cut him off. He had been drinking at the mess and wanted her to come pick him up. When she got to the mess Richard insisted that he was going to drive home. The crash happened on the base. Richard got off the base proper and onto the PMQ patch. He was speeding and he missed a curve in the living quarters area. He totalled the T-bird in an area where the speed limit was 10 km/h. I didn’t go to IWK Hospital for stitches. I went to the base infirmary for stitches. Bill Parker and Bob Wrightson took the car over to a garage that Richard, Bill, and Bob owned out in Western Passage. The car was scrapped as Richard couldn’t afford to fix it.
I asked her if she had ever heard about the fight between Sue and Richard in the summer of 1985. She said no. But she also said that her and Richard had finally signed their divorce papers that summer. Apparently Richard was refusing to sign the papers until Marie agreed to not make a claim against the land he owned in Nova Scotia. Marie never did say what agreement her and Richard ever came to over this land. But apparently in the summer of 1985 the divorce papers were signed. This one has always caused me to laugh a little. Was Richard a bigamist? In Canada it’s illegal to be married to two persons at once. The courts had never nullified Richard’s marriage. Richard married Sue in a private ceremony on base in our PMQ. Did Sue, who was on the verge of giving birth to her own son, discover in the summer of 1985 that Richard had never in fact divorced Marie? This of course would mean that Richard and Sue’s marriage was illegal. Yeah, I could see this launching a massive domestic dispute.
When I started asking Marie about her family life she wasn’t too forthcoming.
Marie wouldn’t talk too much about her past.
I’ve found out more about her family from others related to the Dagenais clan who knew her than I’ve ever found out from her.
After CFB Summerside she had very little relationship with her siblings. Her parents were both dead by the time she was 28. And her extended family wasn’t great. The Dagenais’ had a lot of baggage in that branch of the Dagenais family tree.
When uncle Al died, Marie wasn’t even mentioned in his obituary.
I would visit her two more times. But both time she really didn’t want to leave the house. And she didn’t really want to talk. So I’d go exploring Calgary on my own.
I haven’t spoken to her since the summer of 2017.
There is no relationship there. There is nothing to salvage. Sure, I came out of her body, but I was nothing more than a removed appendix.
It’s like anyone who was ever related to Richard has ended up extremely emotionally traumatized and mentally unwell.
There’s just something toxic and evil in the Gill DNA.