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The Story - Page 4

As far as is known no one has ever written a biographical piece on Gerald Byron until now. As an artist, none of his contemporaries questioned his talent with a brush nor his incessant drive for perfection even if only for his own satisfaction. Even though Gerald Byron was an exceptional photographer he was never satisfied with the limitations photography had at the time. He could never achieve the enormous amount of detail and composition he demanded which is why he instead chose to paint.

As a result of Gerald's sudden passing and the lack of adequate financial resources one would think poverty would produce desperation. Although it was a prominent concern Françoise observed that sometimes it takes a tragedy to regain perspective in one's life.

During this mourning period she was subjected to intimidation, manipulation and perversion by the very same people who were there supposedly to help her. Once death arrives some people are quick to forget friendships, family and loyalty. The experience is like the rawest of nature where, as in the wild, the vultures and scavengers are the first on the scene to circle and fight over what they can ravage from the remains. Her only sincere and trusted friend was Marc-Aurèle Fortin. Upon hearing the news, he emptied his entire studio in St. Rose, arrived in Montreal and presented Françoise with 12 pieces of art. She remarked what an honourable man he was. She fondly remembered him as a great man whom she would never forget.

On the other hand she had nothing good to say about her wealthy sister Gaby. At a time when compassion was in order, Gaby was there to help herself to most of Marc-Aurèle Fortin paintings. In addition, Gaby repeatedly lashed out viciously at her sister for no apparent reason. Françoise described Gaby as having a genuinely psychopathic personality. While psychiatrists prefer not to apply "evil" as a diagnostic term, Françoise truly believed it was applicable in Gabys' case.

This resulted in her becoming resentful and suspicious towards her sister and others who tried to take advantage of her during this vulnerable period of her life. However, her courage to overcome these injustices prevailed. Françoise made it quite clear on many occasions that her husband was not ego driven in wanting fame and recognition. But now, she agreed, it was up to her to do something about it. In the following years, she become increasingly anxious to fulfill her husband's aspiration to assemble an exhibition. She would ask herself, "would this approach be effective anymore?" Though she would take every precaution, a certain self doubt and paranoia would set in. In the end all was set aside for the next 50 years. She ultimately decided to let life run its course.

In her final days as I ministered to her daily needs, once again I tried to introduce a resolution towards her exhibition without success. Keeping in mind that her time was growing increasingly shorter, there was a real sense of urgency. Her health was deteriorating. I do admit I tried to put it out of my mind but the hand writing was on the wall.

On January 31, 2004 the inevitable occurred. Françoise passed away in her sleep. Devastation was too kind of a word for how I felt at her passing. I could not comprehend the thought of leaving her or separating her from her husband's art.

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