Yesterday I posted the folklore story of a white wedding death. Today this is a true story.
Many years ago in the days of no seat belts, a beautiful woman was driving way too fast on the icy roads returning from shopping in Granby. She was to be married the next week and her future husband was sitting next to her and her younger sister was fast asleep in the back seat. They were in a hurry to get to a family dinner and she was not paying attention as she roared down the road. In less than one minute she hit some black ice, the car spun around three times, and then rolled down an embankment.
The car lay upside down, deep in snow, barely a few feet from the ice covered Yamaska River just outside of Cowansville. My father, who had just picked me up from my friend’s house sped down the road as we both had seen the accident. He parked the car on the side of the highway and a neighbour who had also seen everything transpire from his living room window. He screamed out of his open door with ice covered words that help was on the way.
My father told me to stay in the car and I watched him go slowly down the steep snow covered hill. I knew he was having a hard time as he had his old rubber black galoshes on. In those days the soles had no grips and he never fastened his boots.
I saw him look into the car and then start to frantically try to kick the window out. The man that had called for assistance was already down at the bottom of the hill trying to help my father. They managed to pull a blonde haired woman out and my father was speaking to her loudly.
The ambulance and the police had arrived by that time and it just seemed to be a vision of black and red. I closed my eyes because I figured that there was nothing but tragedy in and outside that car.
Ten minutes later my father came back and had a grim look on his face. I could see the fireman pull a man out and he looked lifeless. My father never said another word that night nor the next day about the accident, and I never asked.
My late father Arthur J. Knight- Cowansville, Quebec. Former alderman and deputy mayor of Cowansville and campaign committee member for former Quebec Member of the Legislative Assembly Jean Jacques Bertrand for the District of Missisquoi from 1948 until his death in 1973 and he was also the 21st Quebec Premier.
I found out from my grandmother that the name of the woman who had died was Celine. She had been involved with the marching band’s majorettes in town, and my father being an alderman had recently approved a town council donation to their organization.
I had really wanted to become a “twirler” and I had called Celine weeks before telling her of my desire. I also added that I was Arthur Knight’s daughter in the conversation and she told me to come the next night to try out. It never really was a try out; simply eight of us sitting on hard chairs against a wall. She had no clue who I was, and being overweight I was one of two that was not picked.
I was devastated and said goodbye to her. She asked me my name and when I told her she looked upset. Immediately Celine told me that I could join, but at that point I felt she was just being kind because of my father. She called me later to apologize and I rudely told her I understood.
A few days later after the accident my father asked me to sit down. He asked me if I knew about Celine and I nodded my head. I knew that she and her future groom didn’t make it, but her sister had somehow survived.
He took my hand and told me she had opened her eyes for a few seconds and recognized him when they had pulled her out of the car. He said he had repeatedly told her to fight for her life. My father holding back tears said she looked at him and all she had said was,
“Monsieur Knight…. Linda.”
I had tears in my eyes. Her last words contained a mention of my name and I felt just awful. There is never any excuse to treat someone poorly, no matter what the situation is. That week she and he boyfriend’s caskets were brought into the same community hall where their reception was to be held and all the guests were there celebrating not their marriage, but sadly their death. I have always felt that birth, death, marriage is destined, and these things can’t be manipulated–and I will never ever forget this tragedy.