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JG.com:  Did Jo have favorite TV programs or movies that he liked growing up?

 

Raymonde:  Who was that man that was getting all green when he was mad?  The Incredible Hulk?  He used to LOVE that!  (She starts to laugh)  It was funny, because my sister had a little girl, and she was maybe 2 or 3 years younger than Jonathan, and one day she got very mad.  Jonathan maybe was about 4 or 5 years old and she was like 2, and she was going, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!” because she was so mad.  (She laughs even harder and can barely tell the story) So he turned and looked at me and he said, “Mommy!  She’s gonna turn green just like the Incredible Hulk!”  That was so funny.

 

But also, he used to love Sesame Street with the Muppets, yes, that was when he was younger.  And there was another show called “Passe Par Tout” and it was a little bit like Sesame Street but only in French.  And my neighbor worked, so she brought her daughter that was the same age as Jonathan, and at 10 o’clock in the morning they used to look at “Passe Par Tout” every, every day.

 

JG.com:  What does “Passe Par Tout” mean?

 

Raymonde:  Ummm, what does it mean?  It’s like “Go Everywhere”, and it was the name of one of the comedians in the show.  It’s not quite the same meaning in English.  You know, I’m still looking in my book to see what he said, you know, his first word.  It’s funny; I wrote it for my daughter and him.  AH!  Here I have “Le premier ___ de bebe”, “Papa”.  It was on April 21st, he was 8 months.  And the first time he had an haircut he was 3 years old because he didn’t have any hair when he was young.  And he was so blond!  When he was 1, he had just a little, little hair.  Not much.  He was really, really cute.

 

JG.com:  That’s what he said.  He said that he was a very cute baby, but not a cute teenager.

 

Raymonde:  Nah, he was always cute!!  And he had the color, his hair was SO blond!  Once, there was a lady, and I was walking with Jonathan in his carriage or stroller, and the lady stopped me and said, “Oh, wow!  Look at his hair!  It’s like a wheat field!” because his hair was so blond with a little bit [of gold].  Yes, and it was so beautiful because he had the very, very blond hair with the very, very blue eyes, so blue!  My eyes are green with a little touch of yellow.  Oh!  And once when he was little, about 4 years old, and one of my friends was keeping him for the afternoon, and when I came back to her place she said, “Show me your eyes!”  I said, “Why?” “Because I asked your son what color were your eyes, and he told me they were yellow!”  (She cracks up)

It’s very difficult to describe just how nice Jonathan’s mother, Raymonde Guilmette, is without sounding disingenuous.  I tried several different ways, and they all ended up just sounding like a greeting card.  But, come to think of it, that’s actually a great way to describe her:  kind of like a greeting card.  She’s all welcoming and sugary and wonderful and sweet and just makes you feel warm and happy.

 

She’s like chocolate personified.

 

Raymonde is, quite literally, the nicest person I have ever met.  And not just by a little bit, either.  I mean she is SO nice, that I can honestly say that in all the years I’ve been walking this planet, I’ve never met anyone even remotely as nice as her.  She leaves everybody else in the dust!  Perhaps I should just sum it up by quoting Jonathan.  “My mother is a saint.” 

 

That about covers it!

 

On the afternoon of April 17, 2005 she was kind enough to spend over an hour and a half letting me ask her questions about Jonathan.  The first thing I noticed about her was that she has the same laugh as Jonathan ... or I should say rather, that he has her laugh?  They both possess that same, soft “Heh, heh, heh” of a laugh, say "Yep!" identically and drop their "H"'s in all the same places when they speak.  He is his mother's son!

 

She was delighted and as eager as any mother to tell fun, cute stories about her child, thrilled to share the pride she has in her son.  Her French accent and warm voice added to the already wonderful atmosphere she created for the interview and she made me feel right at home. 

 

We covered everything from 1st steps, 1st words and birth weight to broken bones, his 1st Québec Games and Olympic medals.  It was one great interview and she threw in French words from time-to-time when she didn't know the English ones, further endearing her to me.

 

She was so generous with her information that I’ve had to break the interview into 2 parts.  In Part One, we’ll cover his childhood, and in Part Two, you can soon read all the interesting things that she said about his skating in the Junior and Senior years.

 

And now, without further ado, here's the first part of the interview, "Baby Steps".

 

PLEASANTRIES

 

JG.com:  How are you?

 

Raymonde:  OOOooo, great, it’s a beautiful day here, nice and very warm and wow!  Springtime is here!  It’s like a summer day today, it’s very, very hot, and we can go with short sleeves outside, it’s just wonderful!  It’s good for Montréal in April, it’s very rare! (She giggles).  And how’s the weather at your place?

 

JG.com:  Mmmm, partly sunny, the clouds are coming in, and it’s gonna rain again later.  It’s been a sort of dark weekend.

  

Raymonde:  Ah.  So you are coming in September for the Olympic Trials?

 

JG.com:  I sure am!

 

Raymonde:  Well, prepare yourself for a very stressful weekend!  You know, it’s worse than the Olympics because they’re all friends and they have to "fight" each other, and the top 10 guys here in Canada can win and then go to the Olympics, so … oof!  It’s gonna be tough, and it’s gonna be stressful.

 

JG.com:  (I say jokingly) Well, I'll try to prepare myself mentally for it.

FIRSTS

 

JG.com:  So first, I’d like to start out asking you some questions about Jonathan about when he was a baby and a little boy.

 

Raymonde:  Ok.

 

JG.com:  How old was Jonathan when he learned to walk?

 

Raymonde:  About 11½ months, near his first birthday.  But he crawled at 7 months – he crawled everywhere!  We were getting ready to move to our house that we’d just bought, and he was climbing on the boxes.  He was climbing and crawling and getting over them.  It was something! (She laughs, remembering her ambling baby.)

Photo Submitted by Raymonde Guilmette
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Jonathan Guilmette, a little athlete before he could even walk, happily climbing a chair at 7 months

JG.com:  Sounds like it.  And what was his first word?

 

Raymonde:  Oh boy, was it “Daddy” or was it “Mommy”?  I remember my daughter it was “Papa”, she was 7 months and (she pauses to think) … What was Jonathan’s?  I guess it was “Papa” you know, because the mommy says, “Papa is coming home” and I would say that often.  I would have to look in his baby book.  Let me get the book, ok?  I have everything written there.  One moment.  (She puts the phone down to go get the book.  She returns and starts asking herself questions about it)  Our Baby.  Now where did I write that?  Ask me another question while I look for it, ok?

 

JG.com:  Sure!  Did he have a favorite toy that he liked to play with when he was little or take with him?  

 

Raymonde:  A favorite toy … I think it was … let me think about that ….  Well, when he was about 2 or 3, it was little cars that he played with.  And he played a lot with Lego, building and construction with Lego blocks.  And he had a little [stuffed animal] puppy, it was all soft, and he played with it a lot.  And when [Jo] moved away from home, he had it downstairs [in the basement] and I said, “What do I do with that dog?”, [and he said], “Oh, Mommy, keep it.  I’m not gonna bring that to my apartment, but keep it.”

 

JG.com:  Awwwww …

 

Raymonde:  (she laughs) Yeah, so I still have that.  I washed it and I put it outside on the clothesline, and my tenant upstairs said, “What are you doing with that?”, and I said, “My son wants me to keep that.”  So I guess this was his favorite puppy when he was young. 

 

JG.com:  Speaking of puppies, did he have any pets when he was little?

 

Raymonde:  Mmmm, no, because my daughter was allergic to dogs and cats so we never got them, but he used to love dogs when he was young.  My mother had a dog, and he played with it when we went to her house.

JG.com:  Did he have a security blanket or favorite blanket that he took with him everywhere?

 

Raymonde:  No, it was his Mommy!  He came to me for his consolation.  When he arrived he was 9 pounds, 4 ounces.  A big baby!  But he didn't have toys that he wanted when he was upset or a blanket or anything.  And how do you call the little rubber thing in the baby’s mouth?

 

JG.com:  A pacifier?

 

Raymonde:  Yeah, he never wanted a pacifier; it was just Mommy, Mommy!  And when he started to walk, he would fall and hurt himself sometimes.  Then he was crying, so he didn’t have any blanket and he didn’t want a pacifier and he wanted to have his consolation, so he came to me.  It was really cute.

 

JG.com:  What was Jonathan like as a baby and a little boy?  What was his personality like?

 

Raymonde:  Oh, he was very quiet, he never cried for anything except when he wanted to eat; he was a very good, good, good baby!  I would have had 10 kids like that!  (She laughs at her own remark.)  Yeah, he was very calm also, and I don’t know why, but it was very different, my daughter.  She was sick when she was a little baby from 4-6 months she was at the hospital; she had so many allergies.  At night she used to cry because it itched.  But for Jonathan it was easy; at night when he was crying, I just brought him in our bed with us and fed him, and it was very, very easy.  Maybe because it was the 2nd baby, also it was easier?  And you put all that together, and he really was a good baby!

 

JG.com:  Did he play with his sister, Nathalie a lot as a baby and young boy?

 

Raymonde:  My daughter of course, she was 3 years and a half when he was born, so she played with him, and she always spoiled him, and gave him everything he wanted, so it was very, very easy, you know?  She always wanted to help with him.  And I didn’t work; I was at home for 10 years with the 2 kids, so that makes it easier also, eh?  Because you’re not stressed, and you don’t push them to get dressed in the morning and go to daycare.

 

JG.com:  Well that’s nice.  And how was his room decorated as a child?

 

Raymonde:  I have a photo here in my book.  It was yellow and blue.  It was very simple.  At that time, I had a little chest for him of 4 or 5 drawers, a bassinette, and yeah, the walls, everything was yellow.  And a little bit of blue, because at that time we didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl, so we didn’t choose this color or that color.  We didn’t have “ecografie” (sonogram).  That started at the age of Jonathan that we could have ecografie, but I didn’t have any ecografie for my first child, and my doctor said, “Well, you don’t need it for this one, everything is going well”. 

Photo Submitted by Raymonde Guilmette
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3-year old big sister Nathalie holds newborn Jonathan in his nursery.

Photo Submitted by Raymonde Guilmette
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Seven year old Jonathan Guilmette in his school picture

Baby Steps, page 2