Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dr. Michael Whitehead, R.I.P.

Those of us in the mystery community know of Michael Whitehead as Louise Penny's husband, and the role model for her police inspector, Armand Gamache. But, in Canada, he's remembered for other reasons as well. Here's the link to the announcement on CBC News. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/michael-whitehead-obit-1.3769676

Here's how Louise announced his death. "Michael passed away last night, at home, at peace, with love. "It's not so much that his heart stopped, as that he'd finally given it all away." Surprised by joy...."

And, here's the way I will remember Michael.



I was lucky enough to have dinner with Louise and Michael and another friend, Patti Cheney Lang.  Check out the bow tie in the picture. Louise and Michael said he wore funny ties when he was Director of Hematology at Montreal Children's Hospital. The children, often scared, needed someone kind and gentle, with a smile and a funny tie. Louise once told me Michael wore bow ties every day, with balloons, or teddy bears or Mickey Mouse. He dealt with children with cancer, and when he leaned over the children they'd see his ties. Michael knew what a gift life is, and Gamache understands that.

We ran a little late getting to the Poisoned Pen after dinner, because we had such a nice time. Michael and I sat in a bench at the back of the store. And, he smiled with pride while Louise talked.

I saw Michael only one other time with Louise, in Monterey at Left Coast Crime several years ago. He was already in the early stages of dementia, but she reminded him who I was. I hugged him, and we talked about the trip he had made that day. The joy was still in his eyes.

When Louise would say Gamache was based on Michael, he would respond, "Remember, Louise writes fiction."

I don't think so. I think she writes about a kind, gentle man who loves his wife. I think she writes about Michael Whitehead. Rest in peace, Michael.

9 comments:

Mason Canyon said...

So sad to hear of Michael's passing. Hugs and prayers for Louise and his family.

Lesa said...

It is, Mason. I know we're all sending support to Louise, however we can.

Carol M said...

I will keep Louise and family in my prayers. She is one of my favorite authors.

Kay said...

I was sad to hear of Michael's passing. However, Louise's statement brought tears to my eyes. She has been so graceful through all his illness and her love for him just shines out. Such a dear man and I've never met him. My heart goes out to Louise and family. Even knowing that someone's time is coming, it's still very hard to endure. Thoughts and prayers for them. Michael is sharing his joy in heaven - or so I believe. Thanks for telling us of your time with him, Lesa.

Grace Koshida said...

So sad to hear about Michael's passing. I know Louise really had a shortened US tour for her August book launch since she did not like spending much time away from home. Louise is such a lovely lady, and they have handled his illness with such grace.

Libby Dodd said...

What a lovely tribute. And her words about his passing are truly remarkable.

Lesa said...

That's the best word to describe Louise - grace. Always.

Bonnie K. said...

Lovely tribute. I'm a fan of Louise Penny and am sorry for her loss.

Kaye Barley said...

oh, Lesa. so lovely.