TORONTO, Ont. -On Sept. 12, 1993, Claudia Belair lost her husband and best friend Jean-Claude. He was a born trucker who worked hard to provide for his family. His sudden death of a heart attack stunn...
TORONTO, Ont. -On Sept. 12, 1993, Claudia Belair lost her husband and best friend Jean-Claude. He was a born trucker who worked hard to provide for his family. His sudden death of a heart attack stunned the family and left them swimming in grief.
Consumed by her own grief, Claudia realized she needed help in comforting her children, particularly 12-year-old Marc. Not knowing where to turn, she send a letter to the editor to then Truck News editor Brenda Yarrow (now Truck News sales rep, Brenda Grant).
What happened next forever changed the lives of Claudia and her son Marc and is the subject of a new book called Roll On.
The letter to the editor, which appeared in Truck News shortly before Christmas 1993, struck a chord with many readers. Like a scene out of a movie, the Belairs’ postal worker began showing up at their door with bags of letters, postcards and gifts, mailed to Marc from truckers and industry suppliers all across Canada.
There were hats, jackets, model trucks, pictures and everything imaginable.
“Almost every day became a new day of surprises,” Claudia writes in her book. “We never knew what to expect.”
The highlight of the trucking industry’s generosity came in the form of a special day dubbed Marc Day, provided by local fleet Big R Express. The company invited Marc to visit their operations, let him sit in the trucks, presented him with a company jacket and took him to lunch. He was basically able to live his dream of being a trucker for a day.
Claudia describes her book as: “A true story about a young mother’s struggle dealing with grief and loss, and how the Canadian trucking industry came to her rescue and the amazing events that took place to help her young son deal with the loss of his father.”
In a world where the trucking industry is often villianized, or at least misunderstood, it’s a refreshing read. Those who’ve been around the industry may even recognize some of the characters -folks who took the time to write and are still involved in the industry today.
The book includes a list of all the people who wrote Marc including several pages of letters that he received.
Claudia said she wrote the book as a way to give back to the industry and recognize how caring and compassionate its professional drivers are.
“Truck News is one of the main reasons for my book. If they hadn’t printed my letter at the time, the chain of events would never have happened and who knows where our family would be right now?” Claudia told me. “Through the thoughtfulness and kindness of your readers, they gave us our strength and courage to not only go on in our lives, but to go on knowing that people really did care about other people.”
Publishing the book has proven to be a struggle. Claudia spent years working on it and then published it herself. The purchase price of $20 is just enough to cover her printing costs and she’s donating $1 from every sale to the Breakfast Clubs of Canada, a charitable organization that has helped her through the years.
Claudia will begin marketing the book in earnest this summer, first with an appearance at the Truck News booth at the Stirling Truck Show June 19.
The book can be purchased at the show, or ordered directly from Claudia for $20 + $2.35 shipping and handling by sending payment to: C. Belair; 600, 16th Avenue; LaSalle, QC; H8P 2S3. You can also find Claudia online via the Truck News facebook page at www.Facebook.com/Truck- News or you can e-mail her at bella. firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I froze as I listened to his words. I felt fear and panic throughout my entire body, ‘Oh my God,’ I thought, ‘he wants to die, he wants to die to be with his dad. What am I going to do? Does this mean he would commit suicide? Could he?’ In his grieving state, I believed he would be able to go that far. I had to do something, but what? I was struggling to keep my own grief under control, how in God’s name was I going to save my son if I could not even save myself?”