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Demolition!

Thank you to Mortlock Construction Inc. for providing an inside look at demolition. It is so exciting to see the changes taking place inside Heeney House. [showhide type=”post”]

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The Memory Tree

By: David Kennedy, Bereavement Coordinator at Hospice Peterborough

Life just didn’t seem to matter anymore; each morning was a struggle – one that John had to do, not for himself but for his family who still needed him.

Since their mother had died his adult children were terrified that he would give up and die too. It was something that he couldn’t talk about because of this fear, so he just pushed it down and trudged on.

Joan, the love of his life, died in March and people expected that he was better now. If he were honest with himself he could never have imagined that this grief thing would hang on the way it has, or as long as it has and wondered if maybe there was something wrong with him.

The holiday season has put increased pressure on John to be what he can’t be – but the expectations are very clearly out there – even if they haven’t been spoken. His kids and grandchildren had told him, not asked, that they were coming this weekend to get things ready for Christmas. Today they were putting up the tree, something John would be more than happy to skip but realized this is an expectation that he probably needs to fill, so here we are.

The house was quiet as everyone else was still sleeping and he used the quiet to open the boxes piled on the floor that contained the tree ornaments. He opened the box marked fragile. It had the special ornaments – the ones that Joan had deemed fragile and significant so she always handled the task of wrapping and putting them away herself with great care. As he opened the box he jumped. It came out of nowhere, he wasn’t prepared for this reaction; the realization that the last hands that handled these ornaments were Joan’s.

Last January, even though desperately weakened by cancer, Joan was determined to carefully pack these treasures away safely and she spent a couple of hours carefully wrapping the glass balls and packing them into this box. 

As John picked one up he could almost imagine her hands gently holding this ball. He realized his hands were trembling and he almost dropped it. He was so close to leaving a note and just running away – telling his kids to do it all – when he felt a hand on his shoulder and a soothing calm come over him. He thought maybe he was going crazy but he swore he imagined Joan’s voice telling him it was okay and to spend some time remembering.

That is what he did, as he carefully unwrapped each of the fragile ornaments, packed so carefully by his wife. He spent time with each one remembering. For some of the ornaments it was where they had purchased it. For instance when they were on a vacation, the beautiful glass pineapple ball from their trip to Hawaii; he laughed out loud when he remembered that he wanted to buy the hula dancer but Joan had threatened to make him wear a grass skirt if he did. He spent a long time with the snow globe bulb they had bought in a Christmas store in Arizona one year when they had gone south for a break. He remembered how they had laughed because the girl that sold it to them, on a 95 degree day, had never seen snow and wanted them to tell her what it felt like. They had pictures on their phone of the big storm that had happened back home only weeks before they left for Arizona, so they spent an hour laughing and talking with her about snow.

Each ornament had a memory; one that he had been afraid of facing but what he discovered was that these memories, while painful were also healing. That remembering the life they had experienced together was a good thing and that to try and forget these memories would be to forget Joan and he wasn’t going to do that.

He lost track of time and it was an hour later when he realized that his daughter and granddaughter were standing looking at him strangely wondering if he was okay. By now his memories were no longer kept inside and he was laughing and crying and talking out loud as if Joan were right there with him and it must have scared them as they arrived at the doorway.

Are you ok Dad?” His daughter asked hesitantly. John looked up with tears and smiled and said reassuringly “I’m fine, oh yes just fine.” He told her to go get all the kids and grandkids and to come downstairs – he had something to tell them.

They all came not knowing what was happening and as they sat on the floor with him in the midst of all the ornaments. He started with the first ornament saying ”As we put these ornaments on this tree I need to tell you the story of where they all came from, and why your mother and I want you to know that all of life is making memories – just so we can have times like this to share.

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The grass is greener

Once again today I am struck by the contrast of what was and what is today. What a difference 1570 days can make! Below is a photo from day one (the day Hospice purchased Heeney House) and a second photo from this morning.

Also…the workers are putting in a construction road down the south side of the property as the road coming in from the northeast will likely have limited use as the full foundation for the new building gets dug. We’ll soon see if my amateur construction prediction is correct. [showhide type=”post”]

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Digging the foundation

A lot can happen in 24 hours! The contrast from Monday to Wednesday is quite dramatic as noted below in the two comparison photos of the east wall of Heeney House. I have also included a series of photos. And for the really ambitious blog followers, there is also a short video clip of the excavator and dump truck in action…[showhide type=”post”]

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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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Excavation!

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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Powering up

Today I met Adam from Tri-line Electric Ltd….working on getting power to all essential areas of the construction site. One of many people helping to build our community hospice! [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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