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VOLUNTEERS: (The lifeblood of Hospitals)
The first Monday of June 2018 I was awaken by nature's call at thirty seven minutes after five A.M., according to the clock-radio beside our bed, but before I could seek relief I had to wait for Mary, my wife, who had unusually awaken earlier than I to vacate the bathroom. I would not normally stress the time of day I arise but the night before I had set our alarm to wake me with its' clamorous chimes at 5:45 AM. An ungodly hour for a retired couple, on the back side of seventy, with no where to go and nothing to do except visit the Oncology department at the Oshawa General Hospital.
On that cold foggy day, a rarity in Southern Ontario for this time of year, we had to be in Oshawa before 8:00 AM for another of my wife's Nivolumab (NIVO) therapy treatments which have now been ongoing for longer than I care to remember. But I keep hoping, every time that I sit patiently by my wife's side that this radical immune therapy will work its' magic and help ease the constant pain that I see daily on her face and in her beautiful blue eyes.
But I digress. To help pass the time during our therapy visits we take a portable scrabble game, Yahtzee dice/score sheets and a novel or two plus other reading material. On this day Mary took our June 2018 edition of Life Is Better Downhome and was reading it while reclining in the Oncology Chair with NIVO oozing into her blood stream at 130ml per hour.
The Oshawa General Hospital, actually Lakeridge Health Center, like a majority of hospitals in Ontario has an untold number of volunteers who work tirelessly helping the professional staff in seeing to the needs of the unfortunates who have been stricken with cancer. It takes a special kind of person to serve as a volunteer on the Cancer Wards of our hospitals and seeing on a constant basis people with resignation and despair etched in their eyes and then having to put on a happy face, smile and say, âï¿½ï¿½can I get you a drink or something to eat?âï¿½ï¿½ Sometimes, but I would venture that these times are far and few between, they see hope in the patient's eyes and this gives some reason to why they volunteer. I have met a lot of volunteers in my travels across Canada and in healthier times I was one. In organizations such as the Lions Club and St. John Ambulance but never on the Cancer Ward of a hospital as I was unable to summon the fortitude so necessary to deal with despair at its' zenith. Over the past two years, while accompanying Mary to the many different hospitals she has been directed to in her endless battle against cancer, I have met a countless number of these special people called VOLUNTEER.
On that first Monday of June 2018 while Mary was perusing the Downhomer a volunteer happened to walk by her chair. "Is that the Downhomer you're reading?" she said while doing a quick about-turn and looking directly at Mary, who stopped reading and with a quizzically look on her face, looked at the cover of the Downhomer and asked the volunteer "are you from down home" "Yes, I am!" was the reply and therein started a three way conversation between the volunteer, my wife and I which lasted well over a quarter of an hour. Life histories summarized, possible relatives, memories of home, missing Newfoundland and anxious to go home again and many other things talked about. If the duty nurse hadn't interrupted us to remove the needle from my wife's arm we may well still be there chatting. This is just one example of how a volunteer can change a dreary therapy session into a memorable 15 minutes. And all because of the "Life is better Downhome"magazine.
I know this is a little late but, we were away all winter. Just got my Downhomer last week. Wish politicians would focus on their job, and do it properly, and leave NFLD traditions be. There is nothing degrading about getting "screeched in". It is tradition. Most people that visit NFLD look forward to the ceremony. What I find degrading is, seeing our Politicians on TV, acting like a bunch of pre kindergarten kids. when I was in the military, we had a ceremony we would preform when we cross the International Date Line. We put our late PM Trudeau and Margret thru that ceremony, and I was King Neptune, on that flight. They went thru with it, knelt in front of the king (me)) drank a potion of cold veggie soup, spiked with gin, and laughed at it. It was just fun, and the PM was not degraded at all. We presented him and Margret with a certificate, signed by the Aircraft Captain, in this case, the Commander of 437 squadron, in Trenton. I am a Newfie, and proud of it. My next trip down, I will get screeched in. Ray Martin Prescott On.
The story in your April issue brought back a memory from the 80's of a penguin I saw and not in a zoo.
We were at Sydney NS delivering a cargo of petroleum products.When we arrived there was a Japanese Trawler moored ahead of us so after my watch was over I took a walk up to have a look at her. Japanese trawlers are very different from our own trawlers with a very low profile.While I was looking down at it a large penguin waddled out from under the bow of the trawler.He just walked around the deck for awhile and then returned to bow again.
The Japanese trawlers travel all over the world fishing so they must of picked it up down in the Antarctic area.
A Visit to Corner Brook papermill
The following is a rewrite of a submission I thought I made Mar 24 but cannot find acknowledged - - -
By associating a picture of a locomotive with a Bowaters building, Karl Janes' letter in the December 2017 issue triggered in me a long dormant memory of seeing other locomotives by a Bowater building. It happened during my first visit to the Corner Brook paper mill. I was then age 14; same age as the mill. Britain had not yet declared war but it was inevitable and expected soon (it came on September 3rd ) German U-Boats were already roaming the Atlantic in anticipation, adding hazard to sea travel. I had to go from St. John's to Halifax for a July 31st appointment with my orthodontist. While on previous trips I had sailed directly from St. John's to Halifax, this time my Dad booked for me a shorter voyage from Corner Brook. (The short voyage didn't prevent the Caribou's sinking by U-Boat 3 years later) Arriving at Corner Brook by train (not yet called The Bullet) there was a long wait to board the ship so we passengers were treated to a tour of the mill. The huge pile of pulp logs outside, the pulp entering the roaring paper machine, the humidity and heat and the great roll of paper coming out the end was awesome. But what intrigued me most were the two small steam locomotives used to shunt rail cars in and out for loading paper for shipment. Strangely, these steam engines had no smoke-stacks "because they had no fire heating a boiler. Instead, to provide energy for their day's work their steam-chests were filled with high-pressure steam from the mill's steam generators.
They had names painted in large letters: "Leaping Lena"and "Sizzling Sal". How could I forget that?
While they are clear in my memory, I'd love to see pictures of them and I wonder if any of your readers could oblige.
Remembering Daddy Bruce
I want to say thank you. I've enjoyed Downhome for the last 10 years. I was born in St. John's in 1956 but only lived there a couple of years. My father was in the US air force. I have been back many times and still have family on "the Rock."
In 1968 the family spent the summer. One afternoon "Daddy Bruce" asked me to go for a ride. Any time I could be alone with my grandfather, I jumped at the chance.
Well, we ended up at a cemetery. He got tools out of the truck and went to work on a piece of marble. I watched in amazement how just a hammer and a chisel in his hands, he turned that marble into a headstone for one of the graves.
Well when my Nov 2017 issue of Downhome arrived I was just thumbing through as I usually do, I came upon the article "He left his mark." I saw the name Frederick Chislett. I immediately phoned my mother and asked who this was. She told me that Frederick was her grandfather and my great grandfather. You see my Daddy Bruce was the oldest son of Frederick and Irene Chislett, Bruce Chislett. He too worked on many tombstones. So some of the tombstones with the name Chislett at the base may have been done by Bruce Chislett.
Thank you for the article. I learned a little more of my family history. I really enjoy Downhome and love to visit St. John's. The smell of really fresh air when you walk out of the airport is etched in my mind.
Thank you again
John C. Johnson