Monthly Archives: January 2017

Make yourself at home

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Today, after our worship service, Erinn and I walked into the kitchen of the building where The Dale meets on Wednesdays and Sundays, and found one of our friends making himself a pancake.

This wasn’t just any pancake… It was massive (the size of the entire frying pan), and had strawberry jam and mini marshmallows incorporated right into the batter. After it had been flipped over (which was no easy task), he encased the pancake in a tortilla. Essentially, our friend had taken a look around the kitchen, and made himself a meal from the available ingredients.

While we generally discourage such pillaging, this was actually a really sweet moment. It turned out that our friend, who is currently living in a shelter downtown, had heard some gruesome news that had him feeling pretty freaked out. So he came to the place he knew we would be, and made himself a “home cooked meal.”

I know how much comfort I find in cooking, baking, and puttering around a kitchen. And I love that our friend, who very rarely gets to cook for himself, found comfort in our kitchen today.

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The best medicine

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“Ben” is a friend from The Dale who has experienced much struggle, sadness and sickness, but has managed to regain his phenomenal sense of humour. He makes me laugh all the time, and one rainy, dreary afternoon I decided that I needed to start writing down some of his material. So I started a memo on my phone called “Ben jokes”.

I was sprinting past him that day, as he stood on the sidewalk getting soaked. He called out to me, “Jo! It’s gonna rain today! 100% chance of precipitation!” Then he broke into his half-cackle-half-chuckle, and I couldn’t help but slow down and share a laugh with him, getting even wetter but suddenly not really caring.

Another day I was ducking out of drop-in, in search of serving bowls. One of the challenges of having multiple locations is that sometimes we forget where we last used an item, and find ourselves trying to serve a meal, for example, with 6 of our 10 serving bowls missing. At the time I wasn’t sure if they had been left somewhere, or stolen, and so when a group of guys outside drop-in asked where I was going, I said “To get more bowls… I think someone may have taken them. But why would someone want a bunch of serving bowls”? At the time, Ben was lying down and I wasn’t sure if he was even awake… but then, without skipping a beat, he lifted his hat from over his eyes and said, “maybe they were going bowling!” I nearly died.

Just a few days ago I saw Ben at one of our drop-ins. He said, completely straight-faced, “I woke up this morning kind of hungry, so I went and walked back and forth until I got fed up.” While there was probably some truth to that joke, he was looking for a laugh, not for sympathy.

I know it’s horribly cliche, but laughter really is a wonderful remedy. I can’t wait for the next addition to my “Ben jokes” memo 🙂

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(“Ben” is on the left, with his ever-present rubber chicken dangling beneath the bench!)

Remembering Will

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It’s been a year and two days since our friend Will Rohrer passed away. I miss him- his soft voice, his vulnerability, his chuckle. He had had a tough life, but he was was still such a tender guy.

I count it as one of my greatest privileges to have been there with him when he died, along with Erinn and a few other members of his “chosen family”. We gathered around his bed in the emergency room at St. Jo’s and shared stories about our friend, as we kept him company during his final couple of hours.

Erinn and I hadn’t even met some of the other people around Will’s bed before that day, but each had been his friend and an important part of his care team in various ways. As we shared in the sacredness of those hours with Will, we developed a pretty special bond. That was one of Will’s great gifts- the ability to bring people together, make connections, and form community. Even after his death, through his visitation, funeral and burial, he brought people together in a really unique and beautiful way.

Erinn and I had the weighty privilege of being chosen by Will to share the role of his Power of Attorney. This was an honour, and came with a lot of learning for me. I had never been someone’s POA before, and I quickly realized that it was a pretty big deal. As tough as it was in a lot of ways, I’m grateful to Will for providing me with that piece of my ongoing education. And I’m grateful that he had the insight to ask Erinn and I to share this role – I would have been quite lost without her experience and wisdom.

Will was a special dude. He is missed. At drop-in yesterday we lit a candle beside his photo, and played Q107 on the radio (he was a rocker). One of his friends drew a picture for him, which we put by his photo. Though he’s been gone for a year, his impact is still very much felt.

Thanks for everything, Will.

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