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Demolition and digging

External demolition work started today. The Heeney House east side porch has been removed (you can now see the entrance doorway very clearly). The north side second floor porch has also been removed along with some of the concrete wall that formed an old patio enclosure below it. Excavation work for the new building continues, along with topsoil removal for the whole construction site. The last photo in today’s bunch is very official-looking with the trucks, excavator and white-hat construction workers having a meeting. Things are definitely looking like a construction site now!  [showhide type=”post”]

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Snow arrives, work continues

For the past few days, snow has been falling and staying on the ground. I ran into Craig Mortlock at the site this morning and while the excavator has been doing some initial digging and scraping of land around Heeney House, they are finalizing an excavation plan for digging out the foundation for the new building that will go alongside Heeney House. Thanks to Richard Johnston for the amazing panoramic photo! [showhide type=”post”]

Meanwhile, interior renovations of Heeney House are ongoing. While it may not look like much is happening on the outside, the bins that have been filling up with debris and hauled away this past week are an indication of progress.


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There is no denying construction is starting to move along at 325 London Street. An excavator has started the process of digging up the earth surrounding Heeney House in preparation for the addition of the wing that will house the 10 hospice care beds. It is so exciting to take a walk by the site and see the changes unfolding right before us during these cool fall days.

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Thank-you trees

Today some of the trees around Heeney House were removed to make way for the new building. While it`s sad to see the trees come down, they have provided many years of shade, comfort and natural beauty…and now they make way for a home that will also provide comfort, soon be surrounded by new trees and plants that will once again stand tall. Thanks to George Dimitroff for providing some of the `before`images. [showhide type=”post”]

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Skylift and skill saws

Hi everyone, not much evidence of construction activity today but I heard the sound of a skill saw inside Heeney House (hard to get a photo of that). There was also a lift parked outside the front door – not sure what it was being used for but big machinery on a construction site is always a good sign! [showhide type=”post”]

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Death is a Life Changer

By: David Kennedy, Bereavement Coordinator

“I can’t believe it has been a whole year!” She sat in the same chair she did a year ago, but she is not the same person. “I must admit,” she added sheepishly “I really didn’t think I would last a year. I am pretty sure that without Hospice I wouldn’t have.”

These words spoken by a woman, whose husband of 30 years had died suddenly, have been expressed by many who have found themselves lost after the death of someone they love. Life is hard to imagine and time doesn’t slow down to allow us to catch up, nor does it speed up to allow us to escape.

I asked her what had changed in her. ”Literally everything. With Bill not here I had to learn to do things I took for granted that he looked after. I have had to find myself in a new way. I lived at home until we were married and I have never lived alone. This year has defined ‘alone’ in a completely new way. I have found that I can do and I can be, and that is important. I wish I had Bill back, but I know I can’t, and I just know he is proud of me for the changes I have made.”

Death changes us, and while we struggle with those changes, there is hope. Taking life a day at a time – sometimes moment by moment, gives us the chance to deal with life without being overwhelmed and Hospice is here to help people make that journey.

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Angel’s Words

By: A Hospice Client

My entire life changed four years ago. Since that tragic day, I’ve had an extremely difficult time sorting through so many emotions – blame, anger, confusion, crippling sadness – and struggling to answer the question WHY? Why me? Why us? Why this? But this past year, changes have started as I’ve adjusted my questions to what now? Where do we go from here? How can I squeeze something positive from something so horrible? How can I honour the life that was lost? I’ve discovered that these answers don’t come overnight – and some of them will never be answered entirely. But I’m realizing that I have to believe that it’s possible to carry-on and to grow as a person, life doesn’t stop for my grief. If I can enlighten even one person to be more positive when looking at and hopefully living their lives, then I feel there is hope – for me, for us, for others.

Firstly, be grateful – cherish what you have even in your grief. Remember that all of us have something that someone else mourns the loss of. Also, take a look at your priorities – it’s not about having the best of everything; it’s about making the best of everything you have.

Second, the loss will never go away but you don’t have to disappear with it. Choose to make positive changes in yourself, in your actions, in your life. By doing this, you honour the life that was lived.

I would like to leave you with one final thought, “it doesn’t have to be the end!” Your loved one’s physical life may be over, leaving sorrow, sadness and an empty space in our lives, but in our hearts, minds, and memories they are still abundantly full and gladly so. It is only in our surviving that we can choose to share their gifts with others as we were so very lucky to be witness to their greatness. You are never alone in your struggles. Seek out the help and get through with the empathy of others. And in doing that, share pieces of the person you lost…for they may be gone, but they will NEVER be forgotten!

This fall, a number of grief and bereavement services will be offered at Hospice Peterborough, including Children and Teen Grief Groups, Grief Recovery Groups for Adults (levels one through three), a Lunch Group for the Recently Bereaved and the Bereaved Parents Support Group. One-on-one grief counselling is also available. For a complete, listing of our fall program and service offerings, please check out our calendar of events.

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Thelma and Louise

By: Sue Stinson, Visiting Volunteer

Originally published in the August 2016 Ontario Caregiver Coalition (OCC) Newsletter. Sue and Kay’s sister Tracey have given permission for the story to be published by Hospice Peterborough.

It was a week or so before Christmas and I packed up my bag of goodies and set off to meet my new client. I didn’t really know what to expect, so I brought my adult colouring books, markers, coloured pencils, finger labyrinth, hand held labyrinth, worry egg and a smile. When I got to the garden home at the seniors residence, I knocked and a thin voice welcomed me in.

I’ll never forget that small body, blanketed in her lounge chair, her voice was weak and she was tired and unwell. During this first visit, she was not able to get up and move around comfortably or speak much louder than a whisper, but she took command of the room and I soon found myself flustered and reciting my resume trying desperately to come up with a credible response to her question, “What can you do for me?”

“Well, I have been volunteering with Hospice for about 5 years and have worked in counselling for over 30… I worked at Hospice for a while assisting their ED and for a few months filling in for her…”

Nothing seemed to be impressing her.

“I brought some things that might interest you?,” I entreated lamely as I pulled out various colouring books.

“Oh yes, I have one of those, someone brought me, but I don’t really use it. It’s supposed to be relaxing, isn’t it?”

I took the hint and packed them up.

“How about labyrinths, have you heard of them?” I asked hopefully.

“Oh yes, I have walked many.” She responded as she accepted the small brass 12-circuit model. After a few minutes, she let me know this wasn’t working for her so we moved on to the hand-painted finger labyrinth. Again, this didn’t do the trick and when the worry egg also failed, I told her we were just down to me and my sparkling conversation. Somehow we found our way into a conversation that would last about nine months and cover dreams, memories, family and the ever looming question of “had I found a house yet?”

It was a struggle at first for her to fit me in between chemo appointments and after-chemo sick days. Finally I asked her how she was getting to chemo. When she said that she took a $7 cab ride there and back (about two kms away once a week), I found my in! And thus began the adventures of Thelma and Louise. Okay, no Grand Canyon jumps or robberies, but sometimes when we “did errands” after chemo, we were late for dinner! Every Wednesday, we managed to add some little adventure to her appointment; shopping for some new spring/summer clothes, dropping off income tax information, stopping for a cup of tea by Little Lake or just driving around. At the end of each trip, she would hug me and say with such earnestness, “this was a good day.”

Over the months, she constantly pushed herself to walk farther, or faster or without the use of her walker. She had very strong opinions on what clothes were appropriate and what colours suited her. One day while walking down by the water where she would often recount past Hikes for Hospice and pause to remember former members of “the group”, I wrapped my purple scarf around her neck. She was delighted having found a new colour that suited her.

When fractures in her femur resulted in what would be her final trip to hospital, we continued our visits there, sometimes taking a break from the rehab unit telling the nurse that we “might” be back, looking down on the courtyard labyrinth, rolling through the rooftop garden outside palliative care or having a cool drink in the cafeteria. Kay always was on top of her game, remembering each medication and when it would need to be taken again, feeling frustrated that the doctor’s weren’t responding to her quickly enough, mostly frustrated with herself not being able to get up and walk like she used to.

To combat her frustration one day, I asked her what she felt was really important to her? “To get back to Royal Gardens,” was her response. So we decided she would need to be able to get out of bed and walk to the bathroom using her walker, once there she would then need to be able to stand long enough to wash her face and brush her teeth. We set a plan for Thelma’s next adventure and she worked really hard to try to accomplish this goal. But it was not to be.

As long as I had known her she talked about wanting a party. She would be 80 this September but didn’t imagine that she would live till her birthday. So this became our next goal. I told her about the theme parties I had been throwing for my mother including funny headwear, food and goody bags, and she quickly enlisted me as an aid to her sister to get this party organized. One day, she was particularly down about how little progress she was making physically, so I left her with an assignment – she had to pick theme colours for the party. When I came back a couple of days later, she smiled and said, “yellow and blue.” A few calls with her sister and niece and a low key party complete with balloons, colourful plates and napkins, her favourite carrot cake and wine took place in her room in the palliative care unit. As Kay would have said – it was a good day! Bright and very aware of all the festivities, Kay received her guests, cut her cake and beamed with delight! As I hugged her goodbye that day, I said, “Thelma, you put on quite a party.” She just held me extra-long and whispered, “thanks Louise.”

The next few visits were quiet, with mostly me talking or making offers of sips of water or pushes to the rooftop garden or the window overlooking the labyrinth, which were all refused. Our last adventures were quietly holding hands listening to the strength of her breathing. When her family called to tell me she died, there were tears, but so much gratitude at having had the chance to meet her and be a small part of her life.

Goodbye Thelma.

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Beautiful views of Heeney House

What a lovely afternoon today. I decided to take a lunchtime stroll up to the new site from our current location on Rubidge Street. No new construction activity to report but what beautiful sunlight on Heeney House! As I walked north on Rubidge Street toward the new site, I could see Heeney House in the distance through the now leafless trees. Very pretty and regal sitting there on the hilltop. [showhide type=”post”] Once I got up closer the building looked very peaceful to me in the sunlight – a welcoming home. After this morning’s meeting with the Design and Furnishings Committee, Michael Gallant from Lett Architects and John Tamblyn from Rivett Architectural Hardware – talking about doors and hardware for the new facility – I was feeling warm in the embrace of hospice – a place where everyone cares so deeply about the work that happens here…and how we are trying to translate “homelike” into every door and door handle of the future Care Centre…the pastoral scene of Heeney House just seemed to fit!



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