It hasn’t been the easiest of times for James Cadeau and his wife, Erinn Lockard, but they are remaining optimistic and hoping for some good news in the weeks ahead.
Soon after their Sweets and Swirls Cafe was shut down, along with other Town facilities, they began selling and delivering prepared meals, including entrees and some of the tasty treats Lockard is known for.
They’ve had good support from the community, says James. “Some people order every week, and we’re really thankful for that, and others occasionally, and we’re thankful for that too.”
When the Saturday morning Farmers’ Market @ The Village opened, they were able to sell prepared food there, and continue their deliveries as well.
It’s been a lot of work for both of them, but became considerably more difficult when their son Liam, 13, became ill in May. They felt they were getting that sorted, although they don’t know what’s causing his episodes that are seizure-like, but are not seizures, says Cadeau. They have no diagnosis, but all the scary things, such as a brain tumour or epilepsy, have been eliminated, and Liam is learning how to deal with the episodes. If he’s awake, he knows when they’re coming and can usually stave them off. It’s more difficult when he’s asleep. “We’ve learned we just have to keep him comfortable. He goes back to sleep as if it never happened.”
Cadeau describes it as Liam “freezing” for a short time, but then he’s fine. They are hoping he will grow out of whatever is causing them. Because of his age, they might be growth-related, says his dad. “They really have no answers for us.”
No sooner were they adjusting to Liam’s condition when Cadeau had his own episode. It was a Tuesday evening, and he’d been working outside with a friend, when he started to slur his words. He thought he just needed to rest, but when he was still having difficulty talking two days later, he was convinced by friends that he should go to the hospital. He went to the St. Catharines site, spent the day there, had a CAT scan, where nothing was found, and was sent home with a couple of Aspirins.
However, he got a phone call from his doctor the next day, telling him to go to the Niagara Falls hospital, where he was given more tests, and was told an MRI showed he’d had a stroke.
“It was minor, but it happened,” he says.
He was also having difficulty writing — he couldn’t sign his name when he was admitted. But over the course of the four days in the hospital, he improved, and was sent home with no further instructions.
He still has some trouble speaking, “although people who don’t know me probably wouldn’t notice.”
He knows what he wants to say, but it takes a fraction of a second before he gets the words out. “I just have to work at it. But as long as it’s coming back, I can live with that.”
At 51, he feels the cause is likely genetic — his grandmother had a stroke at 51. He’s active, fit, and eats healthy foods, he says, and now he’s running every morning.
He’s been told the risk of another stroke is greater following the first one, but diminishes as the days go by, and disappears if he goes a year without a repeat.
“I really don’t want it to happen again. I’ve got lots of life left in me.”
Meanwhile, “I have to keep going. I think of all the things I have to do, the people I want to help, and that keeps me going. I have to keep my spirits up, but some days it’s a fight.”
It is also tiring, he says. “I start thinking of everything I have to do and I get up to do them, but then I find I just don’t have the energy.”
He and Lockard are now making plans to open the patio area behind the community centre, says Cadeau. They need approval from the Town, and before that, they have to get a plan in place to ensure they can keep everybody safe. But they are remaining “cautiously optimistic” that will happen in the not-to-distant future.
While most know Cadeau as Lockard’s partner in the cafe, and as a hockey coach, many in the community may not know he gave up an interesting career to spend more time in the cafe and with their family.
Cadeau is a professional tea-taster by trade, and was selling tea for a Toronto importer when they opened the cafe. As it got busier, he made the decision that the three hours he spent on the road every day could be put to better use helping his wife and spending time with the family. “It was a good decision, and I’ve never regretted it,” he says.
He was also still spending about 25 per cent of his working hours selling tea. “I’m educated in the world of tea, and I import it and sell it.”
At least he did.
He also taught night school classes in professional tea-tasting at Mohawk College in Hamilton.
But of course, “then COVID-19 happened, and that destroyed everything.”
The cafe was shut down, as well as his tea business.
They switched gears, to selling prepared meals. That, and the market, where they can now sell coffee and their “egg thingies,” keep them busy.
But they really look forward to opening the patio, and seeing people come back to the cafe, even in small numbers.
“We’ll get back on top of it. I’m not a quitter. If something gets me down, I go around it, underneath it, I find a way to get there. If this is the worse it gets, it can only get better.”
Lockard, he says, is “good at taking things in stride. She’s a pretty strong person. She doesn’t quit either.”
They are keeping their fingers crossed about the patio, although everything else in the community centre will remain closed, and people are still nervous about coming out.
“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We want to be sure everything is safe, and we’re looking forward to the time when we can have people back at the community centre.”
If nothing else, their recent problems have taught them what a great community this is, he says.
“There are some people who fight about certain issues, but there are a lot of people who just want everyone to be all right. People are far more concerned about others than we realized.”
He and Lockard do what they can to help others, and although it’s difficult to be on the receiving end, it’s good to have friends when you need them, he says.
“When my friends stepped up to do the delivering for me, it wasn’t because I just wanted a day off. I’m so thankful to everyone who was there to help. It’s great to have such good friends. This is the beauty of living in a small community. You get to know people, you’re there for them if they need you, and they’re there for you. We’re so grateful, so thankful to everyone who has been so supportive.”
He says they’re feeling positive and optimistic for the future, and will keep moving forward as they can — one step at a time.