We thought the call would never come. But finally, after three years on the wait list, there was a bed for Fanny at Simcoe Manor, less than 10 minutes from our house.
Fanny and I have been friends for nearly ten years. She has a developmental disability and she came along at a time when we really needed each other. She was grieving the loss of her dearest and best friend of 35 years, and I was just getting over a fierce period of grieving some other kinds of losses. We fought hard for the kind of friendship we wanted to have, and for the right to figure it all out for ourselves. We are as firmly attached to one another now as we are comfortable in our relationship. I guess I'm the closest thing to family she has ever had, and she is as close to me as any of my family could ever be.
In the past two years, Fanny's mobility has significantly decreased. She went from tottering along on wobbly legs, to a walker, and then, after spending three months in hospital, ended up depending on a set of wheels to get her around. She has moved first from group home, to hospital, to a retirement home, to a nursing home in Barrie, each move taking an emotional toll on her, and a physical toll on me. Her last move, from Toronto to Barrie, we thought would be her last, but it was a 40 minute drive for me and the time we were able to spend together wasn't nearly often enough for either of us. With my dad not well, and other family pressures, some of our visits were weeks apart and rarely closer together than a fortnight. We had left her name on the waiting list for Simcoe Manor, thinking when it came up, we would probably turn it down, but we still felt like we should keep our options open, just because it was so close. Thank God we did.
Since we had less than 24 hours to respond to the phone call, I left work early on Thursday to go over to the Manor to check out the room. I knew the basic accommodations, the only ones in Fanny's budget range, were shared rooms, each occupant separated from the other by a hospital type curtain. That would never do for Fanny, for a variety of reasons. But I thought I should at least look. It was only a matter of minutes from my house, for goodness sake, and I drove by the place many times in any given week. I felt I at least had to check things out before turning it down. And it was Fanny's decision in the end, not mine. My part was to look things over and to present the options to her as best I could. She could always turn it down, and who knew? She might surprise me and decide to take it.
When the aide turned into Room 201, the one being offered to Fanny, I was sure there had been a mistake. It was a large bright room - with a window looking out over the schoolyard below - a room half again the size of the one she was occupying in Barrie and with a bathroom that was four times the size. The best part? There was only one bed. I couldn't believe my eyes. I kept asking, "Are you sure this is a basic room? Are you sure? Are you sure this isn't a shared room? Are you sure they're not bringing in another bed? Are you sure????"
I kept getting the same answers. It was a private room, a big beautiful, private room, for the price of a basic, shared room. I'm still shaking my head in amazement a week later. Even before asking Fanny how she felt, I said, "Yes!" on the spot - knowing that if she had second thoughts, we could always cancel. But once canceled we would not be able to change our minds and get the room back.
When I presented the idea to Fanny, she didn't hesitate. I don't think she would have cared if it was a closet in a basement - or even a shared room. As long as she could fit her treasured things in there and as long as it was closer to me, she wanted it. And so did I. I've already been in to see her four times this week, twice with my grandson Mikey. What luxury to be able to see her without figuring in at least 80 minutes of driving into the quotient. And I love being able to pop in on my way home from work.
If you want to know if God is good, just ask Fanny. And me.
Now, there's a whole lot more to this story. With only four days notice, moving Fanny from one facility to another was going to be a challenge. I tend to be a person who jumps in with both feet and then while falling, try to figure out how I'm going to land without getting killed. This was no exception. When I first said "yes" to the room, I had no idea how I was going to get her out of where she was in Barrie and into Simcoe Manor in Beeton. But God had a plan. In my next post I'll share how it all unfolded, one small miracle after another and all adding up to one incredible day.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights... James 1:17a
Thank you Father, for your perfect gift of a room for Fanny - and me!