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A Tribute to the Staff and Residents of the Elizabeth Centre and All Caregivers of the Elderly

By Robert Kirwan of Valley East Today

“Our residents are welcomed through the front doors when they come here and we make sure they leave here through the front doors with dignity and respect"

We live during a time when people are quick to find fault and criticize others for their shortcomings. But perhaps our greatest fault as a society is that we so often take for granted those acts of thoughtfulness and kindness that far outweigh any of the negative moments we come across. We often fail to take time to acknowledge those times when people go above and beyond what is expected and provide us with acts of humanity that make us so grateful to be living among friends who care.

And so I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity, on behalf of my entire family, to express our sincere gratitude to the staff at the Elizabeth Centre in Val Caron for all that they have done to ensure that our Aunt Mary enjoyed a quality of life while in their care that allowed her to live out her final years and days with dignity befitting all human beings as they make the transition from this life on earth to an everlasting life that awaits them beyond.

Aunt Mary passed away peacefully at approximately 7:20 p.m. on June 14, 2014.

I know that I speak on behalf of others who have been in your care before Aunt Mary and the many who will follow. I know that the group of caregivers at the Elizabeth Centre are representative of all caregivers who work in similar institutions or who provide home care. It takes a very special person to provide comfort and care to a person who is experiencing the “joy of life” that comes as you begin to see more clearly the others who have gone on ahead of you, waiting in anticipation to embrace you and welcome you into their lives again. The mixed emotions of longing to remain with family and friends on this earth despite the pain and suffering you are enduring, conflicting with the utter joy and happiness of knowing that in a short time you will be joined again with so many loved ones who you have said good bye to over the years. I know that every time Aunt Mary looked over my left shoulder during those final days, she was seeing something that only becomes visible as the final hour approaches. Whenever I asked if she was seeing her husband Al, and her parents and friends, she would acknowledge with a simple blink of her eyelids. It left me with a feeling that words cannot describe.

Knowing that there are people around you during those final days who understand that you will be going to a better place and that you will be waiting to once again someday in the future welcome them to your new world beyond, must make it so much easier to leave everyone behind.
I am so grateful that my wife, Valerie and I were able to experience the final moments of Aunt Mary’s time on this earth.

It is the second time I have witnessed a person’s final breath and I can tell you that there is nothing else that can put into perspective the tremendous privilege we all have of being able to live and love as human beings. Valerie will never forget Aunt Mary opening her eyes and looking directly into hers with one final little smile as she took her last breath.

I am also grateful that Valerie and I were able to receive the warmth and compassion that was so sincerely forthcoming from not only the staff at the Elizabeth Centre, but also from the residents who had accepted Aunt Mary into their “community family” for the past four years.

We will always remember the image of the caregivers who would give up their break time to sit with Aunt Mary during those final weeks. We will remember the caregivers who showed in their moist eyes how much they cared and wished for Mary to be happy even though they were going to miss caring for her. We will always remember the residents who stopped by to join us in the room to sit for a few moments looking over at Aunt Mary. Their eyes said it all.

And even as Aunt Mary was being taken out of the Elizabeth Centre, we will always remember the “honour guard” walking with her down the halls as she was being transferred to the funeral home. Such acts of kindness and compassion are not coming from people who care only about their paycheques. They are expressions of love from people who truly understand that quality of life is all about dignity and respect and that no one who is among us deserves anything less, both while living and after death.

As so appropriately put by one of the nurses, “Our residents are welcomed through the front doors when they come here and we make sure they leave here through the front doors with dignity and respect.”

That says it all. It's what life is all about.


A Tribute to All Caregivers
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