It is not often I blog about something other than barefoot running. This is one of those times. My theme today revolves around a return trip to Stratford, Ontario, Canada – the quaint town located 2 hours north-west of Toronto, Canada. As you may recall, it is also the hometown of my mom AND dad. Having recently moved to within a 40 minute drive of Stratford and retired from my main business career, I am able to make the trip regularly and easily.
I headed up there yesterday and my first stop was Cedarcroft Manor to visit a friend from our previous neighbourhood in Port Credit, Ontario. Her name is Jeanette and she is 94 years young! We were neighbours for 30 years and got to know each other well.
As you can see, the Manor is a converted Victorian mansion from back in the day and the ownershave retained some of its natural beauty. This creates a more home-like atmosphere for the residents.Not having seen Jeanette in at least 6 months, I was not certain of her physical and mental condition. She had fallen in her home and broken a hip, had surgery and was in hospital for over 2 months last summer and fall. Her family finally got her a room in Cedarcroft. I found her in the TV room with other residents and, after a few moments of “do you know who I am, Jeanette?”, she responded “oh, yes”! I am not certain she know me immediately but, after I gave her a chocolate bar treat, her memory seemed to clear!! Once a chocolate lover, ALWAYS a chocolate lover!! We proceeded to her room – rather spacious, clean and bright – perfect for her. Once there, she took the time to open our card and read most of it before indulging in her sweets.It was the chocolate that continually won out during our visit – and I certainly was NOT going
to restrict her intake!!! As you can see in the photos, she savors EVERY bite.
Even though it is difficult to see someone you remember as independent, feisty and inordinately ‘dialed in’ even at such an advanced age, it quite simply is the cycle of life…reminding me yet again how important it is to live each moment as if it is your last AND never forget those who touch your life. Take the time to visit, engage and support those who you know and even those you do NOT know. All it takes is some of YOUR time.
No trip to Stratford is complete without a visit to my parents’ grave site – even a few minutes in their presence is enough to set my world straight. They always pass along energy – I can literally feel it coursing through my veins. A sense of calm confidence settles over me – that is when I know it is time to depart for my next stop.If you can remember from an earlier blog, the next stop was inevitably to Gordon Street Home – the residence of my second cousin, Andrew – he who inspires me during each visit!!!As you will notice above, he greeted me equipped with his communicating binder & iPad – WAY more technically proficient than the old coach!!! After an enthusiastic welcome, I gave Andrew a package of Smarties BUT he wasn’t remotely interested in them! You see, this was FaceTime day with his parents (my first cousin, Jim and his wife Brenda). As I soon found out, NOTHING gets in the way of THAT!!!One of Andrew’s long time key care-givers is a SPECIAL, God-sent person named Brad. As you will notice in the photo below, he and Andrew are strongly connected. It’s as if they understand each other at every level. Brad explained to me that ever since Andrew moved into Gordon Street Home 9 years ago, he has thrived. He is animated, active and engaging whilst communicating his thoughts, needs and feelings emphatically. I always LOVE being in his presence.
I could tell he was excited to see and speak with his parents. Once Mom appeared on the screen, his eyes locked onto her and he started working the communication board big time!
Once Dad joined the conversation, Andrew was totally enrolled in the session (see photo above). I asked Brad if Andrew understood him. Brad did not hesitate – he said “Andrew understands EVERY word I say to him”. He further added that “he is a supremely intelligent young man. His brain operates at a high level”. Having interacted with Andrew monthly over the last few months, I am beginning to grasp what Brad already knows about Andrew. This is one amazing gentleman realizing his full potential with the support of incredible staff AND loving, caring parents/family. I am humbled in Andrew’s presence.
To his dad, Jim, I say “thank you for being an inspiration and role model for Andrew…and ME!”. I never knew that you take Andrew on hour-long walks regularly during the summer around Stratford and our beloved Inverhuron Beach (when he visits there). Well, Andrew certainly let me know about that via his communication board and Brad verified the details. You do not just walk him, Jim. You engage him in conversation and stimulate his brain and body by exposing him to the natural beauty of both venues. Good on you, cuz!!! The bar for the rest of us has been set high. I challenge you to engage someone you know positively and powerfully – if you are NOT already doing so.
As I said at the outset, it is NOT often that I blog about something unrelated to barefoot running. I think all of you will agree…doing so today was well worth it!!