Coleman Care Centre’s John Heitmar
By Kristian Partington
John Heitmar exudes a quiet sort of contentment as he sits by the window in his room at Coleman Care Centre with the winter sun shining in on him. Maybe it’s the easy smile on his face or the dripping Hungarian accent, but as he shares stories from his past and answers the few questions I offer about life at Coleman, his contentment seems to rub off on me.
John recently marked his 100th birthday and team members suggest a visit with him is a must while I spend an afternoon at the home. Like so many of his generation, John is a humble man and seems surprised by my interest, yet he welcomes me with a wide smile and asks me to sit.
He tells me of his daughters, son and his grandchildren, and there is an honest pride in his voice as he talks of their lives. He talks of the homesteading life he and his family moved to in Saskatchewan when he was a boy, and he shares a bit about his time serving Canada in the Second World War.
“I’m just marking my time, now,” he says with a grin. “That’s all I can do.”
He loves to read and watch sports on television, he says, and he’s a strong believer in the benefits of regular exercise. He makes a point of walking a few times a day and he takes advantage of the gym as well. “I just want to stay mobile,” John says, describing an artillery blast during his time in the war that damaged his hearing and still affects his balance today. Regular work with the kinesiologist and exercise therapist helps with the balance issues and gives him confidence, he says. Living at Coleman where the team members are always eager to help is good for his confidence as well.
“This is a good place,” he says. “You can’t complain about the staff and the service. They keep coming and asking me if they can do things for me, but you know, I still want to do it for myself for as long as I can, and they’re quite happy with that.”
“Personally I feel quite lucky that I’m in as good a shape as I am in,” John adds as he gets up from his chair to make his way to the dining room for lunch. He says quite simply that he lives one day at a time and makes the most of each day, with a bit of time for exercise, reading and the sports he loves. I think more people would be content if they could live the same way; it’s simple advice, but honest and true, and in John it’s clear that a friendly attitude and a bit of humour can take you far in life.