Our brother Gilbert Allan Lavallee passed away peacefully on February 21st, 2023, at the Portage District General Hospital, located in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba. He was a longtime resident of the Manitoba Developmental Centre (MDC) in Portage La Prairie, having been admitted in 1967 at the age of 11 until his passing.
Gilbert “Allan” Lavallee was born on June 11, 1956, at St. Anthony’s General Hospital in The Pas, Manitoba to Josephine (nee Fosseneuve) and Gilbert Lavallee. He was the eldest of seven children. Allan, as he was known to the family, was born a survivor. During his birth, he underwent a common delivery procedure which unexpectedly resulted in brain damage, and later cognitive/physical delay. He was not expected to survive after spending his first month of life in the hospital in an incubator. A priest was called in to give him his last rites, and medical staff released him to be comfortable in his last days at home with our parents. Astonishingly, he beat all the odds and survived.
Allan learned to walk at the age of five, and after that his solo adventures took off. On numerous occasions he would find a way to open the yard gate and disappear, only to be located downtown at his school’s location (Anglican Christ Church basement) or inside our dog Ginger’s house. On one occasion he was found at his younger sister Elaine’s friend’s home across the street seated at their dinner table eating. He enjoyed eating, it was one of his favorite pastimes, he wanted to try what the neighbors were eating that day.
Every morning he attended special needs school and was picked up by the taxi driver our family nicknamed “Cigar Butt.” On a few occasions Allan caused a ruckus during his transport to school. He pinched his classmate’s legs, pulled her hair, and even grabbed Cigar Butt’s cigar and tam hat and threw them out the taxi window.
He was a good-natured brother who loved to laugh despite being unable to communicate many words. When he got excited about something you would find him rocking his whole body, vocalizing, and frantically waving his hands in excitement. Our late uncle Alex had a close bond with Allan, whom he gave the pet name “Joe.” It was entertaining for the family to watch the teasing and laughing banter between Uncle Alex and ‘Joe.’ Sometimes our brother would give you a side-eyed look and you just knew he was planning on something spontaneous to do to you. This could be anything from pulling your hair to throwing whatever he had at hand. On one such occasion our family was traveling by boat up the Saskatchewan River to Cumberland House, Saskatchewan with our grandpa “Cheechum.” Our little sister Elaine was playing with her toy watering can along the side of the boat. Allan suddenly decided to grab the toy and toss it into the river water, sinking it and upsetting Elaine. Another time he broke his sister Denise’s keyboard she had recently got for Christmas. Allan, along with his younger twin sisters, destroyed the keyboard by plucking off all the keys, making Denise terribly upset too.
One summer, on a family outing, we were picking raspberries near Clearwater Lake, Manitoba. Allan was seated in the shade where all could keep him in view near our mother. Suddenly, he was vocalizing and waving his arms uncontrollably when it was soon discovered that a swarm of wasps were stinging him, and we too were all stung trying to help him out. With the many berry picking outings our family took, it was inevitable that someone would always get stung.
Allan could not say many words, and so he referred to his sister Denise as “Neece,” and “baby” for the youngest sibling John. Denise, the second oldest sibling was often Allan’s protector and responsibility to keep an eye on. On one occasion when Denise was returning home from school, she was alarmed to see him leaning and seated with his legs dangling out the open second-floor window. She raced in the house, up the stairs, grabbed him by his waist, and pulled him back inside to safety. It was a narrow escape that really frightened the family.
Our brother Allan was our “little,” yet “big” brother; he was our eldest sibling despite his cognitive delay which made him seem younger to all of us. As is known, there were many things our brother was not capable of doing, many things we all take for granted every day. When others looked at our brother, sometimes that was all they saw. This is not what we saw, nor is this who he was. Our brother was a blessing, and he will be missed dearly. It is a comfort to know he is now with our parents in the spirit world, and free of his ailments.
Allan was predeceased by our parents Josephine Lavallee (nee Fosseneuve), Gilbert Lavallee Sr., grandparents Bertha and Pierre “Cheechum” Fosseneuve, and Florence and Alexander Lavallee, numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins. He is survived by his siblings: Denise (Ernest) McKenzie, Lorna (Ralph) Schlechter, Bertha Lavallee, Elaine (Fred) Hems, Anita Lavallee, and John (Leonila) Lavallee, nieces: Danielle, Trisha, and Becky, nephews: Joey and Jesse, great-nieces: Izzy and Sophine, and great-nephew Jaxson.
In great appreciation we would like to thank his other family, the staff of MDC, for the many years of continuous care of our brother Allan. Thank you also to the Portage District General Hospital, namely Dr. Chris Proctor and the hospital staff for our brother’s end-of-life comfort care.
A viewing and prayer meeting will be held at Ronald Moffit Memorial Services, 306 Saskatchewan Ave E. Portage La Prairie, MB at 1:00 pm on Monday, February 27th, 2023. Cremation will follow, and burial will take place this summer in The Pas, MB.
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