This year, on my birthday in October, I decided to honour both: the woman who gave birth to me, and the people who cared for her at the end of her life.
My mother, Rozi, had a sparkling personality filled with wit, humour, curiosity, integrity, culinary exploration, a sense of wonder, lots of love and compassion- all in abundance. That’s only the beginning of the list…
We grew up modestly in Toronto’s west end, and like many, were the children of hard-working parents who immigrated from Europe. “Upbringing shows”, she would tell us, and to her, that included the notion of paying it forward; that there were others who needed to feel the warmth of generosity, respect, compassion and a sense that people in their community cared about them.
Years ago, Mom had been rushed to the Emergency at St. Joe’s and her situation was dire; the result of a degenerative and rare, neurological condition. We were told to expect the worst. That night, Dr. Ted Rogovein was on call. He saved her life. Silently, I have thanked him a million times. His gift allowed us to have 6 more months with Mom, whose mind was still as razor-sharp as ever. We were given enough time to gather family from far and wide; to celebrate her birthday with a big, cheerful, singing party, and for all of us to ensure that there was nothing in our hearts left unsaid, undone, or to be expressed. In those 6 months, the doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers and volunteers at St. Joe’s cared for Rozi; kept a positive atmosphere, and even managed to secure a room with a beautiful view, overlooking the lake. She often expressed that she felt very cared for, listened to, and valued as a person as a whole. Her spirits were buoyed; her mind at ease, and the eventuality of her final journey made easier for all of us to bear. She was at peace, and she was thankful.
Her spirits were buoyed; her mind at ease, and the eventuality of her final journey made easier for all of us to bear. She was at peace, and she was thankful.
Since Mom’s passing, just over 10 years ago, those memories have played with projector-like precision in my mind, many times. Since then, St. Joe’s has sometimes been like a second home, due to the number of times that we have had to visit and stay. The standard of excellent care; the quest for innovation and always trying a new approach; the expertise, kindness and compassion of the doctors and nurses + staff; the sense of light- heartedness gently delivered like soothing balm, through difficult times; the feeling of community and respect of family, are all reasons why I continue to wholeheartedly believe in St. Joseph’s Health Centre. They gather a diverse community into one, big blanket of warmth and take care of you with kindness, compassion and integrity.
Just like they did for Rozi….