Two brothers look back on the care their parents received
By Kristian Partington
Emotion is heavy in Dan Dengate’s voice as he recalls the choice his parents made a few years ago to leave their home for a new one at The Village of Humber Heights, where the challenges of age and frailty could be met with the support of a team of care providers.
“Realizing they can’t continue where they are and then moving into some place else that’s not their home is a hard damn thing to do, for anybody,” Dan says. They were reluctant, for sure, but life in the village suited them and they grew to accept their adopted home, mostly because the team members who worked there provided a sense of dignity, respect and above all else, love.
“The place and the people there became their adopted home, not by choice, but after they were there, certainly by love,” Dan says. His parents loved the fact the people around them cared; they were acknowledged every day, greeted with warm smiles by people who genuinely wanted to know how they were doing, and they were included in community events at every opportunity.
Though his mother, Ivonne, died two years ago, Dan still recalls her involvement in the village fashion show, for example. His parents both lived fully in their final years and that’s why Dan and his brother, Steve, chose to offer the team members at Humber Heights a gesture of appreciation shortly after their father, Bill, died near the end of March. They hosted a catered lunch in the Town Hall for team members, and not an eye was dry as they spoke of their gratitude for all the team did for their loved ones.
“The people there created a sense of community,” Dan says, “and gave my parents a sense of love, compassion, well-being and concern for their health, even in the hardest of times,” Dan says. “Everybody there touched my mom and dad.”
The least the brothers could do was show their appreciation, Steve says, because the team members probably don’t hear often enough just how important they are in the lives of so many people. “For many folks, those team members at Humber Heights are their family,” Steve says. “Hopefully they all realize that what they do is much more than a job.”
Steve and Dan both spoke of the fact that at Humber Heights they saw a level of dedication and commitment among the team that rarely exists among other professionals. That passion to serve others created a place of honour and respect for their parents, and continues to do so for the neighbours who make their home there.
To care for others in need can be a thankless job, at times, but Dan and Steve were brought up to speak their minds – and in many ways their hearts. They spoke from a place of love when they gathered the team together at the end of March to honour their parents’ time at Humber Heights.
“You never know what that phase of life may offer you,” Steve says, “but their lives were enriched by the experience, and it was an experience they never would have chosen to make.”