Freda Otchere, 1947–2004
In the summer of 1990, three of us working at Concordia University libraries were diagnosed with cancer. Terry left us much too quickly, and then there was Freda and me. We went through the "big three" together — surgery, chemotherapy, radiation — and then for years got together for coffee and the bad jokes that are understood and appreciated only by those in the "sisterhood". We attended BCAM's very first meeting together. Freda later joined Montreal's dragon boat team, Two Abreast, as one of its original members and remained committed to the team to the end. She worked hard and she played hard, a passionate and fierce competitor.
Then, after more than ten years, the cancer returned. When she told me, she immediately added how glad she was to have had those years to see her children grow up — and how glad she was that she had not put her money into RRSPs because she wouldn't have had the time to spend it! How like Freda — optimistic, clear-eyed pragmatist, and always that wicked sense of humour! She passed away on Easter Monday. Her memorial service was a celebration of life which had been planned down to the smallest detail — by Freda herself! There are many words that could be used to describe her — strong, confident, courageous, committed, perhaps just a touch controlling — a celebration of her life indeed, tears and laughter mixed together. I am happy and proud to have known her.