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December 9, 2022

Celebrating our 35 years

4:14 p.m., Estérel Resort
Believe it or not, we are celebrating 35 years in business this year. The first small Cora restaurant opened its doors the day I turned 40 on May 27, 1987. I wasn’t a spring chicken dreaming of taking over the world. I was the mother of three young teenagers who were capable of helping me provide for our lives. You most certainly know the story already. The reason I like sharing this story, however, is to tell women that age is not important. Quite the opposite, really! A kilo of maturity mixed with two kilos of struggles, peppered with courage and salted with creativity can create miracles when children need to be fed.

I can even add that a woman’s body is generally stronger than a ship’s hull. A mother’s strength, patience and endurance are miraculous. I have been living proof of it myself on a good number of occasions. And now that I have become a weary older woman, I can recognize and appreciate all of women’s qualities.

I started writing this letter in front of a magnificent fire, enthroned like a queen in the great room of the Estérel Resort, located in the Laurentians. To celebrate our 35th anniversary, we invited all our employees from across Canada, a little over 52 people, to spend two days with us at the head office. To end the festivities on a high note, we headed north to the Laurentian Mountains to share a delicious dinner, followed by a campfire, complete with marshmallows and singalongs. Everyone slept soundly that night in one of the beautiful rooms at the Estérel Resort.

8:15 a.m. the next morning
The weather is a bit chilly, but our hearts are full of love for one another. I’m an early bird, so I’m already installed in the vast dining room, with its view of the lake, seated close to the coffee machine. People are coming in one after the other. They say hello to me, glance at the huge brunch table and pick the tables nearest the lake view first. The food is appetizing and the counter offering beautifully cut fruit surpasses our expectations. We’re delighted!

All the employees are happy to have met. Uproarious laughter can be heard throughout breakfast. It is the first time they are spending time together, travelling here from different Canadian provinces across this vast country. We are all thrilled with the turnout. Our get-together comes to an end as we all gather in front of the big fireplace. The young president thanks Nancy, the Human Resources Manager, for organizing the event, and all the participants for attending. A big sun shines in the sky as we head towards our cars. The return trip is dotted with pretty lakes, which beckon us to return one day.

4:20 p.m., seated at my kitchen table
It’s always a tremendous joy for me to meet colleagues from across this big country, especially since I don’t travel as much as I used to. I have to admit that, as I was driving back home, I got a little teary-eyed thinking that I am no longer at the ship’s helm or have a say when operational decisions are made. In fact, I sometimes miss the good old days of hard work when I was at the centre of the action. Don’t we have to die at something to be reborn elsewhere? I am of course entirely satisfied with how things turned out. But, like everyone else, sometimes I would like to be 40 again.

I guess the morale of this paragraph is that we have to live each day like it’s the last. On my way to my final resting place, I should give thanks instead of thinking about regrets. Everything is perfect. I was blessed with many talents and I have used them well. Time has passed and I still move forward with immense gratitude for still being alive.

Deep in my heart I know I still have one last objective, a final season. I am like an apple tree that won’t rest until all its fruit falls from its branches. Apples of happiness and good advice. I try to put every last seed of the future in the ground. By keeping up my writing, like the tree releasing its fruits, I want to release all the words left in my head. I want to die threadbare, empty and light as a feather ready to fly. I persevere at my own pace and in my own way. I appreciate every minute of the journey, every line, every hopeful word.

I will be there to serve you my words for breakfast for as long as you want to read them, dear readers. I am still eager to learn, courageous and curious, looking at the world in wonder, amazed at a tiny weaver ant, capable of transporting a load 100 times her own weight. Just like her, I will try to bring you outsized joy, a bit of comfort and my silly reflections on life and constantly changing understanding of all its mysteries.

The world and everything in it still interests me. All of it amazes and calls out to me. Every one of my sentences could be a question. And they often are. Line after line, I have become an observer of the living, a woman who has experienced so much, seeking to understand the human heart’s many twists and turns. Know that I love you very much.