Darlene Radigan honouring her mother’s wishes

With the help of neighbour Charlotte Bautista, Darlene is learning to read

By Kristian Partington

Darlene Radigan’s mother always hoped her daughter would one day learn to read and today, long after her mother’s passing, Darlene is working to fulfill that wish. Darlene is one of the younger neighbours living at the Village of St. Clair in Windsor. She’s always on the move, filled with energy, and though she lives with some intellectual disability, her heart is kind and she makes friends easily.

One of her close friends is Charlotte Bautista, an 85-year-old former schoolteacher with a smile as broad as Darlene’s who lives in the same neighbourhood. When a group of neighbours and team members from the village descended upon a campground in early September for the 2nd annual Culture Change Campout, Darlene and Charlotte Bautista were practically inseparable.

It’s Charlotte who’s been helping Darlene fulfill her late mother’s wish.

They try to get together for lessons at least once a week, but Darlene is a busy woman, Charlotte points out, and she’s sometimes hard to pin down. Progress may seem slow, at times, but it is progress and Barbara Masse, who works in the neighbourhood as a personal support worker, says it’s not uncommon to find Darlene in a quiet moment sitting with the grocery fliers from the newspapers, working to sound out the letters on the page or trying to print the names of the foods she likes to eat.  

Charlotte agrees that no matter what age a person is or what limitations they may face, there’s always potential to learn new things. It’s been around two decades since Charlotte retired from teaching after 41 years and she couldn’t be happier to once again help another person strive to achieve their goals.

“It feels good to be giving something of myself at this age,” Charlotte says, “because when you are 85 there are some things you can’t do, but whatever talents I do have I would like to share. This is really important to me.”

And it’s important to Darlene, who mentions her mother’s wishes again as the conversation moves on. She’s eager to learn while Charlotte is eager to teach and in the process, their friendship continues to grow.