Monday, October 4, 2010

Matt and Claudette: The girl, the cough and the start of everything.

The following story is part one of a series of stories about Claudette Osborne-Tyo as told by her fiance, Matt Bushby

It was in Winnipeg's North End, on Magnus Avenue and Aikins Street, that Matt Bushby first met Claudette Osborne-Tyo. Walking on opposite sides of the street, both were heading for the same corner store.

"I'd seen her around and always thought she was attractive," confesses Matt. "There was just something about the way she walked and carried herself. She was all woman."

It was around 3 p.m. on February 15, 2005. The heavy snow that had blanketed the streets for months had turned into greyish slush that seeped into Matt's shoes as he walked. Matt paid little attention to his sopping feet as he was too preoccupied with the girl across the street. She looked tired and a little haggard, he thought, but her beauty still shone through her matted hair and heavy eyes. She began to cough, and Matt suddenly found his opportunity to strike up a conversation with her.

"She was coughing, and it sounded terrible," he says. "So I yelled across the street 'that's a terrible cough' and she said 'yeah, I know. I'm dying.'"

He called her over to come and talk to him. She crossed the street and he introduced himself. Finally, he thought, he'd initiated conversation with the pretty girl he'd seen around the neighbourhood so often.

Her name was Claudette, and she was extremely charming. She told him that she was heading to the store to buy some Halls lozenges because she couldn't shake this cough. If anything, she told him, it was just getting worse.

"I told her that Halls weren't going to do anything for her cough. It was too bad" says Matt.

She said she knew that a package of Halls was an unlikely cure to her cough, but she had to try something. She was desperate to feel better.

When Matt asked her where she lived, she told him that she was staying at a friends place in the area, with a bunch of people who had been smoking crack and drinking heavily for days. She wasn't from the city, she was somewhat of a drifter. She told him that she had spent the last five years moving back and forth from Norway House to Winnipeg, staying with friends and family members.

This time she had been in the city for a few months; she came in for a doctors appointment after Christmas and ended up staying with an ex-boyfriend until recently. She said things quickly became violent between the pair and she managed to escape the situation.

She was sick and exhausted and she just needed to sleep.

"I offered to let her stay with me, since I was living in a big four-bedroom house by myself," said Matt. "She just looked at me and asked, 'are you serious?'"

Matt told Claudette that he would give her track pants and a t-shirt to sleep in, and put a lock on her bedroom door. The only stipulation was that her friends were not welcome in his home.

She agreed, and the pair headed to the store together.

When they got back to his house Matt showed Claudette to her new room. She asked if she could take a shower before she went for a nap. Matt obliged, and got Claudette a towel and showed her where the washroom was.

He sat in the living room, watching the Discovery Channel and waiting for Claudette to get out of the shower. Time passed, and he started to wonder if there would be any hot water left for him. Still, he didn't want to be intrusive, so he waited for Claudette to emerge.

Finally, after more than 45-minutes, Matt decided to see if everything was ok.

He wandered to the washroom, it was empty. He then went to Claudette's room, it was also empty. He checked the other rooms in the house, finding no signs of the girl, until he went into his room-- Snuggled underneath the blanket on his bed was Claudette; and she was out cold.

"She slept for like three days, only waking up for cough medicine and other meds," says Matt. "She never left, we pretty much started dating after that."


  1. So good... I hate how I have to wait to read more.

  2. Shelley,

    You have a gift for being able to share very difficult stories in a compassionate and professional manner. I look forward to learning more.