Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Who Is This Person?


Last Friday I went to see my dad. I took Sophie along as well, as 
dad gets a kick out of her and her antics.

Camp Hill Veteran's Hospital in the summer.

Lately it has been 'hit or miss' seeing him, as he has a busy
schedule now at his new place of residence, 
Camp Hill Veterans Hospital in Halifax.

Dad before leaving for the UK during WW2, 1943.

 More often than not when I arrive he is off to either
bocce ball, a crib tournament or as it was on Friday
a song-writing seminar.

I always encourage him to attend whatever is going on.
I don't want him to miss out on these activities.
The funny thing is he doesn't need much 
encouragement. He always attends
 whatever is going on.

Sometimes I stay and watch him interact with the others.

On this particular day the song-writing teacher,
 a music/occupational therapist, invited both
Sophie and I to come along and join in.

Since Sophie LOVES being around 'new' people as much
as she can possibly be, and I like to get involved
in new ventures/adventures, we agreed
whole-heartedly.

And off we went, with dad leading the way, to the
multi-purpose room.

On the way to the multi-purpose room.

When we arrived there were about a half dozen men
in their wheel chairs situated around a large long table.
Also the 'therapist' and his assistant (I believe she was
a student volunteer from Dalhousie University) 
were getting set up with a 'flip chart' and
a guitar.

Sophie and I sat just away from the table a bit.
She is far too curious with new people
and feels she must smell and lick them,
which would be a tad distracting I thought.

So the session began just as Sophie settled quite nicely 
lying down on the floor next to dad's wheel chair.

Sophie listening contently to the music....after she insisted to meet everyone there! Then she settled.

They reviewed the past two sessions and sang what they
had written to the accompaniment of the guitar.

I was spellbound and happily impressed with what and how the therapist
managed to get everyone involved and to contribute with whatever
they had to offer or suggest.

It is important to keep in mind here that all the 'participants' 
are over 90 years of age and have various degrees
of ability both physically and mentally.

I was humbled at how each and every one contributed to the 
best of their ability. They were given an assignment the week
before to compose a few more verses to complete their song.

I was wondering what dad was carrying when we left his room.
He had made up a few verses of his own which he had written
down on a pad of paper.

As I was watching dad I could see that he was eager to get a chance
to present his 'work' to the group. And when that opportunity came,
he didn't hesitate in the least and presented it.

I thought, 'who is this person'? 


You know that feeling when you look at a photo of your parent(s) 
 when they were younger and way before you were ever even 
considered to be part of the 'picture' and just wondered
who is/was that person you are looking at?

Well, that is how I felt on this Friday afternoon in a sunlit room
with people I had just met.
I was beginning to see him and think of him 
as somebody I hadn't met until this afternoon.
This was all new to me....seeing someone I had 'known' all my life
being someone I hadn't seen before.

And I liked what I saw.

From the windows in the room you can see the Halifax Public Gardens.
It was decided that this would be a good topic for a song. During
the past few weeks the group was composing verses and had
picked the music to accompany their work.

The Public Gardens can be seen from this vantage point.

They chose 'Moonlight and Roses' (click to learn of the composer).

The group titled their work 'Sunlight and Roses' and this is what they have done so far:

Sunlight and roses
As you enter the garden gate.
To seek peace and solace
While walking the path with my date.

(chorus)Halifax Public Gardens
Made for all to enjoy
a place full of memories
For many a girl and boy.

Arm and arm we gaze at the flowers
And come to the bandstand so grand,
Peaceful and quiet
Strolling hand in hand.

(chorus)

Feeding the ducks and the pigeons
As we sit on the bench with friends,
Restful and hoping that we'll return again.


I thought this time in my father's life would be very different
from what I am actually seeing. I couldn't be more happy for him.
As I am 'meeting' somebody who is unencumbered from life's trials
and hardships, I am seeing someone who is embracing all life has to offer
at this moment.


You may be wondering where all the photos are! Well, due to 'privacy' issues
 publishing photos of the other patients is not permitted.
I used photos from previous posts.





41 comments:

  1. This is truly one beautiful post, with words telling of love, comfort, pride , and happiness when a parent has reached their twilight years and is content, cared for so well, participates in all activities, and you can be happy, not only for your beloved Dad but for yourself, to see him happy too. Fond greetings to you and yours, see you in 3 weeks.LOL to all, Jean.

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    1. Thanks so much Jean for these kind words. Have a wonderful vacation on the North Island.

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  2. Jim this is really a lovely post. My parents are both gone and I miss them so much. It is wonderful that you are meeting this "person that you don't know" and perhaps it will encourage you to learn even more about your father before he is gone from your life. So wonderful to see this person that you are so blessed with in this new light! Good for your dear dad that he is enjoying these moments!!

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    1. Thanks so much Jeanne. I never imagined that I would be discovering more about my father at this point in his life.

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  3. This is a beautiful post, and a wonderful tribute to your dad. I so understand what you mean. Sometimes I look at old photos of my parents, way before my brothers and I arrived, and wonder about the people I see in the images. Logically I know they are my parents, but another side of me sees them simply as individuals with dreams, hopes, plans for the future, talents, worries, struggles, successes, happy moments, grief, etc. And at those moments I'm looking at them like a stranger would; someone who'd never seen them before. It's quite fascinating. It looks like your father is in a great place. I'm so glad to see that the residents are kept busy and active. Everyone needs to have something to look forward to.

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    1. They are kept busy Martha but only if they wish to be. There is no pressure which I feel is a good thing because they can go at their own pace. At this age that is very important.
      I think we lose sight that our parents are human beings just like us going through all the ups and downs and reacting just like we do.

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  4. I get goosebumps when I see photos of young men and women in uniforms heading off to war. I got them again when I read the lyrics for the song. I am so happy he is so vibrant and involved. My mother refuses to take part in any activity in her nursing home, preferring the company of herself or just one other resident....a bit worrying for me.

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    1. Chania, that was how I was feeling as I watched the group create their song that afternoon. It was a very good feeling that came over me.....sad in some ways but also happy that these people were remembering their lives when they were younger.
      So sorry to hear that your mother prefers to not get involved. Maybe she is more comfortable for her own reasons to stay by herself. she just may not need too much social interaction.

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  5. I almost ended up crying-but tears of joy-thank you so much for sharing this post with us. this is truely awesome.
    My mom has dimentia now and getting worse, I keep thinking she would feel so much better about life if she was in an enviroment to interact more with people, instead of living by herself now. she lives across the street from my brother now in her own home-but I really think she needs people around her

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    1. Hi Kathy. Sorry this made you cry.....but I see how it would especially that your mother could so benefit from some social contact on a regular basis. Maybe there is a 'day program' somewhere handy?
      Good luck with her care.
      My Dad was getting that way when he was at home mostly alone for 4 years after my mother died. He was just vegging.

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  6. It's wonderful that your Dad is eager to participate in all the activities going on at the home. It really enhances vibrancy and quality of life. My Mom is not a mixer/joiner at her nursing home. I wish she was but we can't make others do what WE want, can we?

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    1. No we can't Debra. And just maybe your mother is content with just how things are for her at this moment. We have to respect that I guess.

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  7. simply magnificent......so proud of him and our heritage...........

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    1. It is, isn't it Marilyn. Dad's life continues!

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  8. What a touching post Jim, so pleased for you he has settled in. Wonderful pictures of him also.
    Ivan

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    1. You know Ivan, it was very touching to witness this. I couldn't believe not only the participants but also the instructor and how sensitive and respectful he was to each and every man there.He really likes his job and that was reflected in the presence he had.

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  9. This is wonderful. How nice to get to know more about your dad in ways you haven't before.

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    1. He, and I guess me too, never had the time to pause and reflect on the simpler things of life....on a creative level. An eye-opener for sure.

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  10. What a wonderful post! It must be so heartening to see your dad enjoying the interaction with others.

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    1. Dad was always a social person Pat but of and whom to his choosing. Here he is learning to mix with others that he would not have normally picked. It must be quite the learning curve for him.

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  11. I love, love, LOVE that you were able to find this fantastic place for your dad. And, I love that Sophie gets to visit, too!

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    1. Hi The great thing about this place, well one of the great things, is that he didn't have to wait a year to get in! All war vets go here. Dad waited 2 weeks before he got the call. Non vets have a very long wait to get into provincially funded homes.

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  12. What a grand facility! Light and airy, and filled with people who care. So glad your Dad is happy there and mixing and participating. The song is lovely.

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    1. It really is Terry. It's not perfect but very close to it! The food could improve but they are working on that as we speak.
      I really like the song too.

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  13. That's absolutely lovely. I used to work in a nursing home. Today I wrote a post about what it's like to live in a mediocre U.S. facility. Inger suggested visiting you. How very different and lovely your father's experience is. I'm so glad for him and for you.

    Love,
    Janie

    P.S. And Sophie is beautiful.

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    1. Nice to meet you Janie! Any friend of Inger is a friend of mine!!
      This facility is exceptional and is funded by the federal government because it only takes war veterans. It is almost 'through' WW2 and is now on to the Korean War vets. So there is lots of money to keep things here top notch. The staff is incredible and highly trained in what they do. Staff never leave this place.
      Wish I had joined the forces here in Canada!!lol
      Anyway, welcome aboard here Janie. Hope you stick around.

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    2. Oh yes, Sophie sends a big kiss!!

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  14. Hi Jim, This is such a great post. Your dad was tall and handsome, and he is looking pretty fine for his current age ~ 96? I hope I'm remembering right. Isn't it interesting to see your parents as people aside from being parents. I remember Camp Hill Veteran's Hospital. It looks like a wonderful place, and I'm glad your dad is thriving!

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    1. Yes he is 96 and will be 97 in June, Louise. He doesn't look his age....never did.
      Must be the angle of that photo of him in uniform....because he is not tall at all. I think about 5'9". I was taller than him in grade 9, 6'1". That was a strange feeling looking down at him!! lol

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  15. To me, it's wonderful that your dad is actively participating in his next phase of life. I'm also envious of such a great place for him to enjoy these years.

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    1. Hi Stew. Dad and we are very fortunate to have this facility right here in Halifax. Funny thing is, if the ruling government (the Conservatives) had their way, this facility would probably be phased out pretty quickly.

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  16. Jim, what a wonderful spirit your father has. Thanks so much for sharing this experience with us.

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    1. Yes Lisa, he has a great spirit that has carried him forward throughout his life getting him through some unbelievably difficult periods.

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  17. Beautiful post, Jimmie! Pups was so proud to show me his song that they had written when we visited on the weekend. It is so wonderful to see him involved in so many activities. I never dreamed he would be so happy there!

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    1. Nice to see you here Jacqui, my niece! That was the way he was when I was there the other day....like an excited school kid about to present his work. So focused! Who is this man?!

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  18. Oh, what a beautiful post. I'm so glad for you and your father.

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    1. Thanks Fiona! It is a good time for us all!

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  19. a heartfelt post here Jim. nice. i really enjoy seeing my families war photos. they really had such style. just amazing. take care this week. ( :

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    1. Thanks so much Beth! It was a special moment I witnessed. I will never forget it. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

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  20. Beautiful ,how wonderful for you both,and Sophie..:)Love your posts.

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  21. I haven't been on your blog for a while. I love the whole Maritime flavour. I work with seniors and love this post, am glad for your dad.

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