He helped me figure out the code to open the doors at the Village at Smith Creek continuing care center one evening. I had just finished my visit with Veronica and hadn’t realized the code had changed until I tried the old code to find it didn’t work.
Glen was always helping out or sitting at the corner table next to Linda, his wife. She sat as she always did – in a wheelchair, her head tilted to the side, eyes closed – with beautiful smooth silver-grey hair. She has been at Smith Creek for the last 12 years so Glen knows all about the ins and outs of everything that happens there. He knows who has moved in, who takes coffee or tea, who has changed tables, who is fighting with her husband, who needs a chair for supper and who has a wheelchair instead. And he knows when someone has died.
He was the first person who spoke to me there the day Veronica died. I had been at her bedside all night as she was in palliative care. I was just coming back in to check on her and glanced ahead of me to see someone say something to Veronica’s mom. She quickened her laborious gait and wailed aloud in grief. I knew Veronica was gone before Glen told me.
“You missed her by 10 minutes” he said as he poured me a cup of hot tea from the carafe waiting there. I sat at his table (affectionately referred to as his ‘office’ by both of us). Veronica’s family was in saying goodbye and, as I was relatively new in her life, I gave them their space. I had started the habit of stopping by Glen’s office on my way in and out just to chat and see how he and Linda were doing. He’s quick to pick on me in a way that makes me feel welcome. And he offers me a cup of tea and a chair.
“You’re not going to stop coming now, are you?” Glen asked me. I hadn’t thought about it really. I had been coming by once a week for about 5 years and I never once thought about what I would do once Veronica was gone. “As long as your office is still open,” I found myself responding.
And I look forward to Tuesday Tea Time. He forgoes getting the coffee and tea for all the other residents on Tuesday afternoons. He says that way the people who are paid to do it remember how to do their jobs. Instead, I get a hug, a cup of tea, and a listening ear. He now, along with knowing all about everyone at Smith Creek, knows all about me. He asks me why I do what I do and tells me what he thinks I should do instead. I find out if anything other than status quo has happened in his week. And we always end up laughing – usually at me. He feeds Linda her supper not even realizing that his listening ear and generous heart are at the same time feeding my soul.