One of our Causeway participants recently passed away. I guess this was inevitable but was still difficult to learn.
She came to us via Evangeline Residence. As she moved out, she acknowledged she’d like to be connected to some friends in her new neighbourhood. So we found some Causeway volunteers, organized a time for everyone to meet over dinner, and all got together to make the introductions.
I remember her being very quiet that evening. She didn’t say much but looked very pleased and thankful to enjoy a nice meal and meet the couple that were to become her friends via Causeway.
It was beautiful.
Every now and then I’d received updates that they were still regularly meeting and keeping in touch. I also knew that this woman, I’ll call her ‘Joanne’, became ill and ended up in hospital. Her Causeway friends remained faithful and visited her regularly there.
But even then I still wasn’t aware that a true two-way mutually beneficial friendship had evolved.
Until she died.
Then I got looped in to these beautiful emails from the volunteers. They read:
“We knew this day would come and how much Joanne was looking forward to singing with the Lord, but the news (of her passing) still hit us hard. Joanne taught us so much about having a life of faith and joy, being the light everywhere she went…
Each time we were fortunate to spend time with Joanne we were left richly rewarded by God through blessing us with such an amazing woman.
Over many cups of tea and several meals at Pickle Barrel and Golden Griddle (she loved the breakfast for dinner) we had the chance to get to learn about this amazing woman. From an incredible knowledge of hymns and beautiful singing voice, time in choirs over the years, secret recipes and tips for cooking plantains – she would always surprise us with her depth and wealth of knowledge. She would regale stories of learning the piano at home in Jamaica and times in the church as a young girl. Times of teaching the piano to kids from the church that wanted to learn but were unable to get lessons. Times of delicious meals (she loved to cook) being made in the kitchen with her siblings. But most of all an overwhelming faith for God and love of worship and singing.
She would bring a ray of sunshine into everyone’s life she was a part of – beginning with those in Jamaica and ending with her very own palliative care team at St. Michael’s Hospital. We were lucky to spend the final few months with her and never have we ever witnessed such a steadfast faith and hope in the Lord.
When we would visit St. Michael’s, she would want to sing hymns, read the bible, pray and minister in her amazing way. When singing hymns, she would remember EVERY verse and lyric for all the great hymns we could throw at her and some we have never even heard of. We learned so much though her and we’re blessed to have been a part of her story.
To our Auntie – we miss you, love you dearly and look forward to our banquet in Heaven with you. Most of all we remember as you sang: “Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say it is well, it is well, with my soul”
“A life of Faith and Joy. Being light everywhere she went.”
This is a major part of her legacy to the world. Let’s live with that challenge that she has modeled for all of us as we continue to strive to be ‘the hand of God in the heart of the city’.
(attributed to Tom White Cloud)
O Great Spirit whose voice I hear in the winds and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me.
I stand before you: one of your many children, I am small and weak; I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset,
Make my hands respect the things you have made, my ears sharp to hear your voice,
Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people, (your people),
Let me learn the lessons hidden in every leaf and rock.
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brothers (and sisters), but to fight my greatest enemy, myself.
Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes,
So when life fades, as the fading sunset, my spirit may come to you without shame.