Nature 40

Gail Elaine (Tripp) Michaud

May 25, 1949 ~ January 18, 2022 (age 72)


Gail was born in Belleville, Ontario on May 25th 1949. She grew up in Bowmanville with her two sisters Donna and Bonnie. She had a very special relationship with her parents Enid ‘Sally’ and Don Tripp and loved to watch Alfred Hitchcock and Twilight Zone with her mother. She would play with her sister Donna and when Bonnie came along, they would play with her like a toy doll. Gail’s family then moved to Oshawa to the house on Anderson Avenue. In her late teenage years, she moved to Aunt Fay’s and got a job working at Bata Shoes.

She met her sweetheart, Terry Michaud at a family picnic. One thought the other was shy, the other thought one was stuck up. But they connected and the rest is history. While they were dating they took a trip to Montreal to see Expo 67 which in later years they spoke of fondly.

They got married in 1969 and moved to Ottawa shortly after as Terry got a job with Transport Canada. They bought a beautiful bungalow in Blackburn Hamlet. Their daughter Nicky was born in 1972 and their son Michael born 15 months later in 1974.  It was here that Gail met her best friend Linda Young. She lived behind their house and they became fast friends of almost 50 years.

In the early 1980’s, as Gail hadn’t finished high school, she decided to get her diploma by snail mail correspondence. She would spend her days at the dining room table, completing her courses. On other days, she would saddle up the bikes and take her kids to the library where they would spend hours and hours reading. Bored of the kids section, her kids would wonder around to look for her. They would watch her, in her element, reading anything she could get her hands on.

Around 1983 she took a brief administrative role with the Ikea Distribution Centre in Ottawa and always had stories to tell. She also had the inside scoop of when incorrect or broken items were being disposed of and our family spent many evening dumpster diving for odd goodies we would find.One of her best memories were the summers she would pick corn and apples at a local farm. She made her own ‘pin’ money, getting in shape, strong and empowered. She loved to drive her little red Duster car to work and back, she would come home caked with dirt and exhausted but always with a huge smile on her face.

Gail and Terry liked to spend time working in the yard and lazing by the pool. One of Gail’s happy memories was sitting in the lawn swing, listening to the birds. Terry lying down beside her, head in her lap. They also liked to travel. They had a camper van that they would frequently load the family up and travel around North America. There were almost weekly trips to Kingston, Trenton, Oshawa and summer camping at Presqu’ile Beach in Brighton Ontario. The kids felt like they were the ‘children of the 401’.

She then worked for Public Works in the government for a few years until they moved to Brighton Ontario in 1996. Gail decided she wasn’t ready for retirement and took a job as a technical support specialist for an internet provider company. They joined the local legion as well as had a membership to the local Holiday Inn in Trenton and used their pool and hot tub regularly.

Unfortunately, their retirement together was cut short and Terry passed in 2001. After spending a few years alone, she decided to move back to Ottawa to be with her kids in 2004. That summer, as her condo was being built, she lived with her sister Donna and husband Howie and really enjoyed time spent with her sisters, family, nieces and nephews in Peterborough Ontario.

Once settled in Ottawa, she enjoyed spending time with her grandson Emmett, taking him Saturday night sleepovers, making him grilled cheese and taking him to Sunday School. She was rebaptized into the Greenbelt Baptist Church family and was a very active member for many years. She would host bible studies and coffee chats with her friends Pat, Dot, Ruby, Marian, Doreen, Donna and others. We are told that she was mainly the one who connected them all together in a quiet gentle way that made them all friends.

Through Greenbelt Church, she met her friend Diane and in 2008 joined a group of volunteers that went to different countries to help national teachers upgrade their teaching skills in country areas where no resources were available for upgrading teachers’ skills. They shared personal life stories about their faith in Jesus Christ. A huge event, they headed off on Gail’s first air travel experience going all the way across Russia to Siberia, Lake Baykul and Ulan Ude. In 2009, the same group went to the northeast area of Russia and visited Moscow and St Petersburg. Gail saw her first ballet and realized while she liked the dancing, she was not a fan of opera.

In February of 2010, the group headed to Guatemala where Gail got to walk along jungle paths with monkeys, tropical birds, Mayan ruins as well as Central American market places. Gail’s last trip with the group was to Kyrgyzstan, a small Central Asian country just north of the Himalayas, where she liked the colourful handicraft items. On the way home after a stopover in Istanbul, they had much trouble getting Gail out of the rug making shops they thought they would miss their flight home!

Back in Canada, she loved visits with her son Mike, his wife Tanya and granddaughters Sarah and Sammy. She loved Tanya like a second daughter and appreciated the help that Tanya provided her. Her sisters Donna and Bonnie would come to visit and she had fond memories of their sister time together. Her daughter Nicky would fly out to visit from Prince George and Red Deer, and she would fly out to visit her, Dwayne and Emmett.

In the summer of 2018, Gail had to make the difficult decision to sell her house and she moved into Chapel Hill Retirement Residence in Orleans. While she enjoyed her time there, in November 2019 she moved to Alberta where her daughter Nicky and family had the good fortune to care for her in her last years. She was so proud of her grandson Emmett, who had recently taken a position at the Royal Oak Supportive Living facility in Lacombe. Seeing him at the front desk, she would light up and beam, bragging to anyone that would listen that ‘he was her grandson’.

Gail had a wonderfully wicked and warped sense of humour. During her days in Brighton, she found the joy in puppets and liked to bring a smile to people. She was the teller of jokes and always had one at the ready. She loved to be silly and make people laugh. Gail’s favourite joke of all time was “Did you hear about the man with a dog that had no arms or legs? Every day at 6 pm he would take it out for a drag”. Her kids remember her laughing to tears for days at that joke.

In fact, while in hospital, Gail thought it really funny that they would wake you up just to take your sleeping pill. The last joke she told or tried to tell, was in her last days: A man walks into a pharmacy and says to the pharmacist, I have a cold, my wife told me to come here and get something called euthanasia. The pharmacist, taken aback gently says ‘sir do you mean Echinacea?”

Gail loved her son in law Dwayne and the bear hugs he would give her. The best compliment Nicky ever got was from her husband Dwayne while they were first dating and he was just getting to know Gail. He watched as Gail and Nicky were laughing hysterically with tears in their eyes at some funny thing they had come across – he looked at them both in amazement (and very much shaking his head) “Oh my God…there’s two of you!!!”

Gail was an avid reader. She loved books, textbooks or a good murder mystery any day. She had thousands of books – everywhere! She was also a life long learner. Scientific American magazines were spread around the house – no Housekeeping Daily or Lady’s Home Journal for her! In her later years, her favourite thing to listen to were course lectures and because of this she was a wealth of knowledge on many subjects. Having only finished high school as an adult, one of her proudest achievements was to brag about her smart kids and how they each had completed Masters Degrees.

Gail was curious. She loved technology, always wanted to figure out how things worked. It started when her electrical engineer husband brought home a Vic 20, followed by the Commodore 64. This started their shared love of computers. Gail leaves behind a legacy of electronics, cords and cases. Her most recent purchase was a set of VR goggles and she had just been introduced to ‘Alexia’.  She was always posting jokes on Facebook. If her kids hadn’t heard from her or couldn’t get in touch with her, they always knew she was okay by watching her online presence as she would post funny cat memes and pictures. She enjoyed keeping in touch with her many nieces, nephews and cousins through Facebook and email.

Gail loved to experiment. When they got their first microwave in the early 1980’s, she thought she could make her own microwave popcorn by putting kernels in a paper bag. Well that backfired as it burnt a horrible, terrible smell that invaded the house. In a panic she picked up the burning bag and threw it in the plastic garbage bag, but then that melted too – Oh the smell in the house that day!! Some time later on, she decided to try and cook an egg in the microwave…in the shell. Waiting for the delicious egg to cook, we all heard a gunshot sound, a loud bang that shook the entire house. Low and behold, she opened the microwave door and it was caked in baked egg, which took hours to clean. She didn’t do that again!

Gail loved animals, she had many dogs and cats through the years. Spike the dog, cats: Tiger, Spike #2, Lovey, Lady, Blackie. Bandit the pug and her last dogs Topo and Peanut. She was always up for new things as she was the first to step up and put a python around her neck in Kingston while the rest of the family ran away in terror.

Gail was a crafty lady. She loved to knit, spin wool, weave blankets, needlepoint and she got into photography. She loved to collect things and loved her stuff. Her biggest fear was to be bored, and well, she never got bored!

Gail loved to watch tv and movies and had an extensive videotape collection which took over the entire house. This collection upgraded as technology changed over the years and she then owned thousands of DVD’s. She loved crime dramas, sci-fi, a good comedy and always had CNN going in the background. Her favourite movies were Lake Placid, Down Periscope and Two For the Money. This last year, she liked to spend time with her friend Lynn and they would watch tv together and play silly games.

Gail always made her kids feel warm and safe. Nearing bedtime, she would put the tea kettle and then she would tuck Nicky and Mike into bed. Often she would read from the books they had got from the library. Nicky and Mike would fight to whose bed the story would be read on. She would tuck them in, kiss their foreheads just between their eyes and say “You are smart, you are pretty/handsome and you are mine”.

Gail was a Woman of Faith. She was very religious and each night ended with her in prayer on her knees, thankful for everything in her life. During her last days the Aides at the Royal Oak would often find her on the floor as she could not get herself back up and into bed after saying her prayers.

Gail was a shining light and truly an inspiration to all. She was a positive, calming and compassionate soul. She met everyone with total acceptance, she never judged, she loved us all, our faults and all. She really didn’t want much, except for maybe some oranges, or her coveted and favorite Wendy’s Frosty.

During her last days in hospital, Gail had her ups and downs and in moments of clarity, she would always try to lighten the mood. With her various health issues, hospital stays and appointments, Gail and Nicky had the opportunity to spend a lot of time together. Nicky would say to her “if you wanted to spend time with me, just ask - you didn’t have to get sick!”. She would giggle and laugh, like she always did.

Gail was a fighter. She had many health problems over the years, we began calling her a cat with nine lives but after about the hundredth ‘life’ and health scare, we began to call her Mr. Burns from the Simpsons – all of her health problems were in equal balance of each other. Like a game of Jenga, she seemed to recover and pull through many times over the years, always with a positive attitude. Sadly, after a rough go in hospital, she passed away peacefully on January 18, 2022, at the age of 72 years.

One of Nicky’s fondest memories is of her barefoot in the kitchen during the summer, the radio playing in the background. She was standing at the sink washing dishes, the sun just coming in and filtering through her soft brown hair. ‘To Sir With Love’ came on the radio and she would sing along and be in her happy place. The lyrics of that song “But how do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume. It isn't easy but I'll try” I can hear her loud and strong. How can we thank you Mom??

There are no words to describe the devastating grief we feel that she is gone. She will be remembered in our hearts forever. Her legacy of her sense of humour will live on as she is cremated, her remains will be interned in her favourite piece of china, a Royal Doulton Old Country Roses cookie jar. Mom, we chose this specific cookie jar to keep and bury you in. So now let the jokes begin….we buried Nana in the cookie jar….How awesome is that!!

Gail will be forever loved, remembered and missed by her late husband, Terry Joseph Michaud; and children, Nicole (Dwayne) Neidig, and Michael (Tanya) Michaud; grandchildren, Emmett Neidig, Sarah Michaud, and Samantha Michaud; her sisters, Donna (Howie✝) Cannon and Bonnie (Marcel) Varalo; as well as numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and other relatives and friends.

A “Celebration of Life” for Gail in Trenton, Ontario and will be announced at a later date.









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