Feb 3, 2020 | Heritage
Where do I come from? Who has come before you and what were the events and people that influenced them? What are the forces that make us who and what we are? Complex questions and for many people, myself included, incredibly important questions to have answered.
Recently my mom died suddenly and my family began the task of packing up her life. We went through journals, books, papers, nick-knacks, bills and receipts, notes to herself on things she had to do and photos. Boxes and boxes of photos. Many of them are black and white – images of people long gone. My grandfather – tall and handsome and his father-in-law in his uniform – proudly serving his country – or was he? That’s what we don’t know – we have the images but we don’t have the stories – the context – the richness of who these men were and what made them who they were.
I suspect that many of you reading this will have had a similar experience to me – holding an old photo and wondering who was this person, what was important to them, how and who did they live and love and did their life have meaning? How, or did it, affect mine?
At Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare we’ve been on a journey to answer some of these questions about our own past and the people that made up our legacy and heritage. An important aspect of that past is the “Grace” part of our HDGH name and with the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Salvation Army Grace Hospital on University Avenue upon us, it seems like a good time to delve into this for February’s blog.
It’s interesting to me that in the seven years I’ve been here in Windsor, it is a common occurrence that when someone meets me for the first time and hears that I work at HDGH they have a story to tell me about Grace. Sometimes I hear with excitement “that’s where I was born” or “that’s where my mom worked” or sadly “my dad died in that hospital”. No matter what folks open with they always – and I mean always – tell me that the care was exceptional and that the nurses were top notch.
I saw John Fairley the other day and we were talking about Grace (as we often do). He told me that across the City it was said that “Grace was THE Place” … but the place for what I wondered? Thankfully we have a way to answer this question. On February 8th, HDGH will be hosting the 100th Anniversary Celebration for Grace Hospital here on campus, in our Brown Auditorium. During this time, author Marty Gervais will be onsite for the official release and book signing of his newest book: Amazing Grace – Built on a shoestring and a Showering of Faith and Prayer.
The book is an incredible journey through the remarkable story of Grace. It’s the story of determined women. It’s the story of the nurses and the incredible care they provided. It’s the story of the patients and the building. It’s the story of the City of Windsor and the loving and not so loving times between the hospital and the city. It is the story of a legacy being built day by day, meal by meal, nurse by nurse and dollar by dollar. It’s a story of resilience in the face of adversity and the story of courage - unrelenting courage and faith, that no matter what, Grace would prevail. It is quite a story and it fills in colour to the old black and white photos we have of Grace Hospital. Marty’s book helps us see it again as the living and breathing place that it was. It helps us honour the remarkable nurses and the skilled physicians, and the professional staff and the volunteers who worked so hard every day to make it “the place”.
It's also the story of The Salvation Army and their remarkable and ongoing commitment to our community. I think sometimes we forget that these faith soldiers gave us this place and kept it going in incredibly tough times.
As I close this month’s blog, I can tell you that I am keenly aware of the men and women that walked before me as leaders of this great hospital. I hope that every day that passes and every decision that I make, honours them.
I send you off with a reminder of the life of the nurses at Grace in the “good old days”. Quoted by Marty Gervais in the book are the words of Margaret Finch from 1961;
“A student nurse is truth in a starched uniform, circles under her eyes, wisdom and penicillin in her hair, and the future with a diamond on her finger…
A student nurse has the appetite of a horse, the digestion of an ulcer patient, the energy of a vitamin pill, the lungs of a switchboard operator,
the imagination of a medical student, the sharpness of a scalpel, and when she gives pills she has five thumbs on each hand…
Nobody is so early to rise and late to bed. Nobody gets so much out of one pocket; a pair of scissors, safety pins, one pencil, lipstick, comb, powder,
Kleenex, catheter clamp and the narcotic key”.
To all the nurses in Windsor/Essex and beyond who are alumni of The Salvation Army Grace Hospital, I salute you and promise to continue to remember and build on your legacy today and into tomorrow. I can’t promise my pockets will be filled with the stuff of the past but I do promise that I, and all of us here today at HDGH, will be truthful, imaginative, sharp and hopefully wise, as we make decisions about the future of our community and our hospital.
You are all welcome to join us in Celebrating 100 Years of Grace on February 8th, 2020 at HDGH, 1453 Prince Rd. Windsor, ON, Brown Auditorium
Open house 10:30 am- 3:00 pm. 11:00 am formal portion begins and at 1:00 pm Marty Gervais will reflect on the writing of Amazing Grace – books will be available for purchase.
RSVP at 519-257-5195
As always comments and questions welcome and I am looking forward to seeing you on the 8th.
Oct 1, 2018 | Heritage
Time. I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. Maybe it’s because I’m approaching a milestone birthday … maybe because my baby’s baby is in full time school … or maybe it’s because I’ve realized that for many years I’ve taken time for granted. I don’t know for sure but this month I’d like to talk a little about this with you all. Think about common phrases that talk about time. Time flies; a race against time; buying time; time’s up; once upon a time etc. When you really think about it, we spend a lot of time talking about time but do we really value the time we have? I know I haven’t. I watch my grandchildren who can spend hours colouring pictures, playing with their toys or getting lost in their favourite movie. They live in the moment – never really worrying about what comes next or what they should be doing instead of the pleasure they are taking in at that moment. Contrast that with some of the families we care for in our palliative care unit who are hoping for just one more day, one more hour or one more minute with their loved ones. Time is a very different concept for them; equally relevant and equally right but different. Many of our HDGH family have retired and we’ve celebrated with them. Some of our HDGH family have suffered a loss of a loved one and we’ve grieved with them. Each of these life milestones is a mark in our own timeline. Let’s talk about time slightly differently. This quote by Andy Warhol resonated with me for so many reasons; “They say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” What if we all look at time as carefully as we do money and spend it accordingly?
What do you think needs to change? Maybe it’s here at HDGH. It could be changes in your neighbourhood or maybe it’s in our City/Region or Province. Maybe it’s in you, yourself or your family.
Reflecting back on Warhol’s quote, we can’t expect things we think need to change to just happen – we need to engage – make things happen – spend our valuable resource of time on it.
130 years ago this year five nuns from the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph did just that. They heard that there was a need in our community and they decided to do something about it. So they left Montreal behind and built a life, a community, a hospital and, in my own personal opinion, a future here. They spent time – countless hours of it - making a difference. We will be celebrating them and their work, and reflecting on what they began 130 years ago as we create our heritage recognition features here at our hospital.
More than that though, they built a legacy, a strong dent in our history upon which we are building our future here in Windsor-Essex. We are committed to making a difference through our work with vulnerable populations, our commitment to a prosperous, healthy community, our healthcare services and our focus on building a resilient hospital. We are making the time for these priorities.
I leave you with some of the lyrics to a song that spoke to me when I was much much younger than I am today. Time in a bottle by Jim Croce – an artist who had much less time than he should have in this world. It’s a love song but the idea of saving time in a bottle inspires me … like saving your pennies in a piggy bank.
If I could save time in a bottleThe first thing that I'd like to doIs to save every day'Til eternity passes awayJust to spend them with you
But there never seems to be enough timeTo do the things you want to doOnce you find themI've looked around enough to knowThat you're the one I want to goThrough time with
If you think about it, each and every moment of our lives is time. These moments are meant to do great things.
So use up these moments wisely. Laugh. Create bold new ideas. Find common ground. Make things better and take the time to do it right.
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Windsor, ON N9C 3Z4
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