I first met Alain Ohana more than 20 years ago. He was a young dentist with a dynamic personality. At the time, a number of friends and I were involved in an organization called the Association of Young Jewish Adults. It was originally called the Jewish Adult Programming Society, but many people soured on the acronym JAPS so we made a change. This was a social group, with parties usually once a month. Our motto was: bring a boyfriend, bring a girlfriend; find a boyfriend, find a girlfiend.
While I did not meet my wife via AJAY/JAPS, I made many good friends through this group. Alain Ohana was one of them and he became part of my social circle for many years. This was an interesting time in my life. I had just moved out on my own, was single for a lot of these years, and happily enjoyed a growing circle of friends. We went to dinner and movies together, organized events and just had a lot of fun.
Alain, whom we called “Doc,” was the kind of guy you could not help but like. His laugh was infectious. He was always up on current events, so there was never dead air when he was around. As a dentist, he had a practice in Lachine where most of his clients were on social assistance. Alain told me often how good he felt that he was making sure these individuals and their families were enjoying healthy smiles.
" The private practice where Dr. Alain Ohana worked is a well established clinic that saw everyone, no one was ever refused, " a colleague of his told me. "He showed a lot of devotion to his patients. Dr.Ohana double booked his days to accommodate everyone; rarely a break was ever taken. His knowledge in surgery, endodontics, and dentures to try and accommodate his patients were always his main concern. He also gave so much back to the community with his volunteer work.
As we all got married and had families, I did not see Alain that often. But whenever I did, he ALWAYS had kind words to say. He would allude to a particular column I wrote or chat about the Montreal Canadiens.
Alain married interior designer Sandy Mamane (pictured with him above). The couple had three young children and settled in Hampstead. A few years ago at Christmas I saw Alain by the pool at a family condo building I was staying at in Florida. His mom was a co-owner there. For about four years in a row, we would see each other at Christmas. I watched how his family grew and a new baby was born two years ago. His two older children were full of personality, just like their dad. Alain I would sit in or by the pool for hours, talking about old times.
This past Christmas we did not go to Florida. Neither, I later learned, did Alain. Just a few weeks ago a friend told me that he was not well. Then on August 3, I came home from holiday and got a message from our mutual friend Paul Melnick that Alain had died, a victim of bone cancer.
As the story goes, soon after I last saw Alain in Florida he returned home and began to experience pain in one of his legs. When it did not go away he went to his doctor. Tests were done and bone cancer was detected. The pain became so bad that he could not even walk.
Alain would lose his battle with cancer, only weeks before his 49th birthday. I attended his funeral and it was standing room only. When his son Jordan came to the podium and eulogized his father in French and English, there was not a dry eye in the room. Alain’s best friend Serge Rimok spoke about their incredible 32 year old friendship, the amazing trips they went on, Alain’s extraordinary sense of direction and his ability to pull out a full course meal from his ski jacket as the lift was bringing them to the top of the hill.
I looked around the room and saw so many faces of our mutual friends from the good old days.
Life is not fair! Alain had so many years left. He had already lost his own father at the age of four.
Alain will not be able to see his three beautiful children grow up. All one can say is that he left a legacy of generosity, good humour and intelligence (he spoke seven languages). His children will indeed carry on the Ohana tradition.
Rest in peace Alain. You will be terribly missed!