Peace and dignity, and local care, in the autumn of life

Heart of HastingsThere are so many things that I appreciate about living in this beautiful part of the world. One is – well, speaking of “beautiful,” its beauty. Especially at this time of year, as the leaves turn from green to red and gold and orange and put on a breathtaking display as one drives along the highways and back roads of Hastings County.

Another is the impressive number of community services and resources we enjoy, even though we live in a thinly populated rural area – some of us “north of 7.” No, we don’t have malls and Wal-Marts (thank God) and all those fast-food franchises (save for our beloved Tim Horton’s and the Madoc McDonald’s, which has been a welcome addition to the local scene) that larger centres have. But in Madoc alone – Madoc being “town” for most of us in Queensborough – we have an excellent grocery store that’s open 24 hours (fantastic when you run out of scallops at 9:30 at night), a really great library that offers all kinds of services even aside from lending books, and a medical centre that I cannot sing the praises of too highly. Raymond and I came here from the heart of Montreal, where we were treated, when we had health issues, at top-notch university-connected teaching hospitals by doctors who are national leaders in their field; but I have never felt better-cared-for, health-wise, since becoming a patient of the Central Hastings Family Health Team at the Tri-Area Medical Centre in Madoc. Why, you can usually get same-day appointments with your medical practitioner! It’s pretty rare to be able to do that in a big city.

But in today’s instalment of Meanwhile, at the Manse, I want to tell you about another local facility that is doing a wonderful job: the Heart of Hastings Hospice.

I am inspired to write about the hospice – a fairly recent addition to Madoc – by a letter that came to me here at the Manse the other day. I’ve made in-memoriam donations to Heart of Hastings two or three times over the last couple of years; I think it’s wonderful when families request such donations to an important local facility when loved ones die. As a result, I’m on the mailing list, and this is fundraising season for Heart of Hastings. The letter was written by Dr. Cliff Derry, a much-loved and much-respected GP who practised in Madoc for many decades; everyone knew Dr. Derry when I was a kid growing up here at the Manse.

Hospice letter

His letter is beautifully written. I am going to share parts of it with you:

“Thanksgiving approaches again as the leaves blaze all around us and begin to fall, reminding us of the passage of time and the cycle of life. As we make plans for homecomings and family dinners, it’s inevitable that thoughts arise of those we have loved and lost. They have made us who we are and we cannot help but feel grateful for that.

“Each year I give to the Heart of Hastings Hospice as an act of celebration and gratitude for those people who meant so much to me. I give so that community members who are currently facing the autumn of their lives are able to do so with peace and dignity, free from suffering. I give with an eye to the future, a hope for meaningful support when my time comes. I give so that, even as individual leaves fall from the tree, I know the tree itself will remain strong.”

Dr. Derry goes on (addressing those who have supported Heart of Hastings in the past): “Your continued support will allow Hospice to continue to help local patients and their families transform this challenging period of their lives into a time of compassion and connection.”

Lovely! I suppose I need hardly say that my financial support will continue.

But, inspired by the letter, I decided to go and have a look at the hospice facility. I’d been reading about it in the local newspapers ever since Raymond and I bought the Manse back in January 2012; there are often fundraising events for Heart of Hastings that make the news. But I’d never actually seen the place, and until recently didn’t even know where it was. Then a while back I spotted some signs pointing to it, and yesterday I followed them up past Centre Hastings Secondary School to have a look.

Madoc hospice

What a nice, peaceful place. It’s a modern house on a very quiet little street, with trees and a well-kept lawn and just a great feeling about it. I would feel so blessed if I were able to spend my final days (hopefully a long way off) in that place, tended to by people who understand and practise (to use Dr. Derry’s words) compassion, connection, peace and dignity, and freedom from suffering.

We are so blessed to have the Heart of Hastings Hospice in our little rural community. I hope that you too might consider responding to Dr. Derry’s call for support. Click here to do so!

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