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Remaining foundation poured for Hospice Residence!

As predicted, workers poured the remaining concrete foundation for the new Hospice Residence. My previous post was last Wednesday July 12 so they must have poured late last week. What a contrast to the July 12 photos! I am amazed at how straight and orderly the concrete walls are…[showhide type=”post”]

 

 

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Hospice Residence: Prepping for remaining concrete foundation walls

Work on the Hospice Residence continues this week as workers place more wooden forms around rebar (see photos below). Probably next week the remaining concrete walls for the Residence foundation will be poured. [showhide type=”post”]

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The Struggle to Hold On

By: David Kennedy, Supportive Care Counsellor, Hospice Peterborough 

Impermanence – everything changes. It is amazing how this simple truth gets so much resistance even when we know it is true. The difficulty comes at times in life when what is changing is perceived to be a threat to our stability, enjoyment, comfort or future.

The shocking news of a life-threatening illness is one of those times when we struggle against change the most and perhaps rightly so. After all, the changes that we see involve the control of our health, our time, our very life. It is no wonder that the language used to describe life at this point is the language of war and struggle.

Yet in the struggle to hold onto what we cannot hold onto, we create a web of suffering that becomes the very air we breathe. The brave fight against disease is acknowledged at death and held up as a valiant fight – even though it was not winnable. How do we embrace a reality of impermanence without simply “giving up” and shutting down on life?

If we can embrace impermanence well, while we experience the losses of what we cannot hold onto, we will have the opportunity to experience the new gifts that are being offered to us.

So how do we embrace change and loss without a stance of giving up and giving in? I believe this begins with facing and acknowledging, in an honouring way, the changes that are happening. Perhaps this begins with a grateful realization that our body has done us well for many years. The changes happening do not negate our gratitude for the years that it has served us and fought for us against infection, injury and aging. It is not that the physical body is simply giving up, but rather it is following a path of impermanence and it will continue to do the best it can with the reality of the disease. Impermanence means that instead of going out and shovelling dirt in the yard, we go and lie down and have a nap. Our gratitude to our body for showing us our journey is often set aside in feelings of failure or fear that we are not able to do what we used to do. What if it is possible to allow our body to help us with the reality of change as healthy, not failure?

Image of elderly man holding a young boy.

Secondly, I believe we can do this better by holding onto things lightly rather than tightly. We have become a society that finds our meaning and worth and value in what we do, or what we have or by what other people say about us. This demands that we hold onto things and doing and reputation in ways that do not allow for impermanence. Instead we hand over control of our self to these things which were never meant to stay the same. Illness and dying immediately confront these strongholds we have built and when they cannot withstand what is happening we are left feeling meaningless, valueless and without a sense of who we are. What if we held onto these things like doing, having and perception by others more loosely? What would it look like if we found meaning and value and presence in more than these things so that when change comes in these areas we are not void of meaningful life?

Finally, it is important to be fully in the moment of the life we are in without the constant need to measure value and worth by what we used to do, and the haunting fear of what we won’t be able to do in the future. It is the ability to embrace where we find ourselves now and to put all of our effort into being thankful and active in ways that are possible now. Today I can find the strength to go and sit in the garden and to observe and wonder. It is not the feelings of failure that I can’t dig the garden like I did last year, or the anxiety of whether I will be able to get out into the garden next month – it is the action and gratitude and wonder of being in the garden today and finding my soul being touched by the wonders of this moment.

What possible gifts may come our way when we can embrace impermanence well? I have watched people find wonder in the simple activity of watching their child eat a sandwich with great enjoyment. I have listened to a person describe in vivid detail the time they watched a hummingbird feed and tell me that they had never stopped to watch this even though the feeder had been there year after year. It is the gift of loving people in the moment for who they are. The expressing of that love spontaneously without having to filter through the lens of how we used to do it. It is the gift of mystery, not certainty, of not needing to know or be right.

Each day is a reminder of impermanence, nature is its ambassador and disease is the unknown guide to open the world to the way it has always been.

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Concrete walls poured on top of concrete caissons

As predicted, last week workers poured the concrete walls that form the southern portion of the foundation for the new Hospice Residence. As with every major development at the site, the building shape continues to reveal itself – see photos below. [showhide type=”post”]

South wall of Hospice Residence (taken from Reid St. facing northeast. You can see Bradburn House in the distance – our neighbour to the east on London St.)

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Wood forms; more concrete coming

Despite some setbacks with the old Victorian home on the property, work on the new Hospice Residence continues. Thank-you to everyone for your recent support as we continue to focus on the goal of building a safe, homelike environment where we can offer the best possible support to individuals and families living with or affected by life-threatening illness and grief. In the photos below (from this morning and in late May), wooden forms are being placed on top of the large concrete caissons and around rebar. I’m guessing that concrete will be poured in the next week or so. [showhide type=”post”]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South wall of Hospice Residence (taken from Reid St. facing northeast. You can see Bradburn House in the distance – our neighbour to the east on London St.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New building continues to take shape

Over the past few weeks, workers have been putting rebar into, and between the concrete caissons. On Friday I was chatting with two workers at the site. They told me that eventually wooden forms will be placed around the rebar and concrete will be poured – much like the process used for the adjacent basement foundation that was poured over the winter. The photo below shows where the concrete walls will be poured. Essentially these walls will form the foundation under which the ten private bedrooms will be located! In the foreground of the photo, you can see an enclosed area with no rebar within – this will be the private garden area for residents. The door at the south end of the garden (show in floor plan below) will be large enough to roll a bed through so bed-bound residents can enjoy the outdoors. [showhide type=”post”]

I also had to include a beautiful birds eye photo from our webcam taken yesterday afternoon (Sunday, Mother’s Day).

 

Northeast corner of new building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New building – first floor plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Awakening To Moments

By: David Kennedy, Supportive Care Counsellor, Hospice Peterborough

It was a very intense moment. The air was literally heavy with grief. She had just finished telling me the story of the sudden unexpected death of the love of her life. As she had poured out their life together, there was a deep sadness that pervaded all other emotions. Even those moments we laughed at a memory were wrapped in a shroud of sadness and disbelief. When we examined the things that reflected his life she was awakened to their significance beyond the physical, and spoke of the beauty that these things brought out in him – things like love, meaning, joy and gratitude.

Our conversation wandered leisurely, albeit with difficulty, through the many things that people take for granted at the time, but later realize are clothed with such powerful emotions. We miss what we take for granted and it is not the problem of putting off what we can do tomorrow, it is the mistake of living as if we always will have a tomorrow.

As we came to the end of our journey for that day, I asked her if she missed his voice. She paused, unsure if it was okay to tell me. Then she told me that she has his cell phone and it is still active, and every now and then she will call and listen to his voice and leave a message. Then with deep sadness in her eyes she added. “But he never returns my call.”

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Caissons up close

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that the 48 in-ground concrete pillars (caissons) have been poured – thanks to the giant drilling machine that was onsite for about 20 days. This morning when I walked by the site, there were surveyors working and they had brushed away a lot of the surface dirt so you could really see the caissons. There are two photos below – one that shows the size of each caisson (profile view) and the layout of them all. [showhide type=”post”]

This morning I was also struck yet again by how the new building and Heeney House are taking shape. In the photo showing the layout of the caissons, you can see a large trench dug at the south/far end of the photo. As you can see by the south elevation drawing below (of the site at completion), there will be quite a drop from the top of the new building down to the walking path and garden areas. I have also included a photo taken from the north sidewalk of London street looking south onto the site. Contrast this to the architectural drawing below of the north view of things at completion. It’s fun to imagine!

 

South elevation

 

 

 

North elevation

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Foundation laid…awaiting next phase

On March 21, 2017 the large machine arrived to dig the holes for concrete pillars that will be the foundation for the new building. Through sun and snow, the work continued. Twenty-two days and 48 in-ground concrete pillars later, the big machine finished its job on April 12 and was loaded onto big transport trucks to move on to its next job.

In other news, the temporary driveway for our neighbours has been installed. There is now a separate construction entrance and the eastern construction fence has been moved about 20 feet further to the east. Today also marked some digging right up to London street where the new main entrance and layby will be. [showhide type=”post”]

So…what will the next major phase be? Will we see above ground construction for the new building? Continuation of the concrete elevator shaft to the third floor? Restoration of Heeney House exterior? Stay tuned…!

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In the Family Room

Composite story written by John Mowry based on his experiences working with families at end-of-life.

My sister, brother and I sat in silence in the “family room”. The doctor had explained that Dad had suffered a life-threatening stroke and decisions needed to be made as to how Dad would want to be treated. “Would he want to be treated aggressively or would he want to be kept comfortable?” My sister looked at me and said, “How would we know what Dad would want? Isn’t the doctor supposed know what is best for a patient?” At which point my brother jumps in with, “Why are we even being asked about this? Dad would definitely want everything possible done. This is crazy!” “The doctor asked if Dad has an ‘Advance Care Plan’. I don’t even know what that is”.

The words of my siblings fade as my mind shifted to thoughts of Mom and Dad. Mom had died 5 years ago. At that time, I simply got a call from Dad informing me of her death. Dad is 92 years old. He had been physically active – golf in the summer months, curling through the winter and acted as the secretary of the local historical society until he was 90. The last two years however have not been kind to Dad. His eyesight and hearing, both failing resulted in him becoming increasingly isolated from the activities that had made his life so full. The last two years he had stopped golfing and curling. He had lost his confidence. At one point a year ago, he even mentioned that he was simply waiting until “it is time to be with your mother again.”

I found myself wishing that somehow, as a family, we could have had some conversation with Dad. Maybe Dad saying that he was simply waiting until it is time to be with Mom again was his way of trying to open up this conversation. If only we had not been afraid to have this discussion. If only.

April 16 has been declared National Advance Care Planning Day in Canada. Advance Care Planning is about having conversations with the person, or people who will make decisions for you if you are unable to speak for yourself. By reflecting on your own values, beliefs and wishes and having open, thoughtful discussions with your loved ones who will act as your Substitute Decision Maker, you will help them if they find themselves in a situation where they are being asked by a doctor or other health care professional about difficult decisions that may need to be made in such situations as the case of my 92 year old Dad.

The link below is a booklet that provides information on how to think about and approach these important conversations. Please take a few moments to look through this material. Imagine the peace of mind knowing that you are able to provide voice to a loved one.