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February 04, 2015

Two Months Later: Elise Beliveau Reflects On Passing of Jean Beliveau

“When he died, I said, ‘I must not shame him. I have to try to (show) a little bit of Béliveau in me.’ ” – Élise Béliveau

Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette, the best storyteller in hockey today, was invited to the Beliveau family home to meet with Jean Beliveau's widow Elise. Two months following the passing of the Montreal Canadiens legend, Elise offered some fantastic insight into their life.

Élise and Jean had a few heart-to-heart talks in his final days, and for that she is enormously grateful.

“It doesn’t make it easier but at least you have time to talk, to say what you wanted to say for maybe a long time and never took the time to do it,” she said.

“We had a few good talks. I told him everything that I thought of, and we both talked about the same thing.”

They spoke quite often in the last month of Jean’s life, Élise said, but seldom about what by then seemed imminent.

“Then he called me to come into the room. He said, ‘I want to speak to you,’ ” she said. “I didn’t even think about ‘that.’ All of a sudden he said, ‘We had a good life together, eh?’ I said that we certainly did.

“He told me, ‘I want to tell you — I want to go.’ I said, ‘You want to go? Well, if that’s what you want, it’s OK with me. You can go if you want to. But not right away.’ It was a little bit too fast.”

It is a fantastic (and very long) read sprinkled with some great photos. It is a mixture of funny stories - like when Jean smacked up his 1951 Nash Canadian Statesman de Luxe, a gift from the Quebec Aces, by rubbing up to a city bus. Or the heart-tugging story of how Jean would always smirkingly buy Elise chocolates for Valentine's day, knowing she didn't like chocolate and that he would get them all. With Valentine's day around the corner, you know Elise will miss the tongue-in-cheek gift very much this year.

I highly recommend this read.

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