Monthly Archives: May 2021

Chevy

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As I write this I still can’t quite believe that it’s true: our dear friend Shannon “Chevy” Timmerman has died. Chevy is someone who has been on death’s door any number of times, but we’ve usually been right there with her. I don’t even know how many times I’ve said goodbye to her, thinking it was the last time. The fact that she died suddenly last night is just so jarring.

Chevy has been part of my life for as long as I’ve been at The Dale. She had an uncanny way of worming her way deep into people’s hearts, while simultaneously being frustrating to no end. She loved animals with a passion, especially her dog Jacob who was with her until the very end. At one point she owned seven or eight cats, the oldest of which (Terry) had been with her for about 20 years. She was known to walk with through Parkdale pushing a mesh cage/stroller containing at least one of her beloved feline friends.

Chevy was no stranger to pain. She lived through more difficulty that you would think anyone could, and somehow always seemed to bounce back. Like her cats, she seemed to have nine lives (at least). Despite all that struggle, she somehow maintained an openness to life and love that was quite extraordinary. She was generous and very hospitable (sometimes to her own detriment). Having experienced many years of life on the street, she was always eager to offer a place for people to stay when she was housed.

Chevy was an artist, and one of the things that cemented our friendship was a shared love of the Art Gallery of Ontario. We went there on a number of excursions over the years, and this past Monday (just three days ago) we talked on the phone about our plans to go back, as soon as COVID would allow. I treasure those memories, along with the painting of a ladybug that she gave to us back in 2013 with this message written on the back: “I know I’m a bug, but I’m your guys’ bug now!”

Chevy was a person of deep, raw faith. She would show up to our church services, sitting right at the front with Jacob. She would sometimes toss a ball down the aisle for Jacob to fetch. She often helped Erinn to serve communion, passing the cup of wine to each person saying “the blood of Christ. Get it into ya!” During our communal prayer time she would offer up her heart to God in a way that was vulnerable, trusting, sometimes pissed off, and usually very grateful. The one thing that brings me joy today is knowing that Chevy is safe in the arms of the One who loved her; the One who has now given her the peace of mind and heart that she so often struggled to experience while she was here with us.

There’s a lot more than I could say about Chevy, but I feel like nothing I write can do her justice, or fully explain the unique place that she holds in my heart and the hearts of many. So I’ll end this post with a few photos that I hope can show you a bit more of the sassy, loving, dramatic, creative person that she was. Rest well, Chevy. We love you.

When things work out

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I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all grown weary of bad news. It’s been a looooong year, and COVID fatigue is hitting all of us, in one way or another. Even if things are relatively okay in your little sphere, it’s likely that you’re still feeling more irritable and frazzled than seems reasonable, especially when the doom-y headlines keep coming.

SO… here’s a wee little story from The Dale today, about those somewhat rare and therefore very lovely moments when things just work out:

It was a drippy lunch hour, but folks seemed eager to stick around and chat after receiving their meal-to-go. Some people were doing pretty well, and just wanted to socialize for a minute. Some people were having a really hard time, and needed to vent.

One friend pulled up on his bicycle, laden down with a bag of artwork. He is an artist, and his place has apparently become overly full with his pieces. He offered a bag of paintings to me, to be re-distributed. I hesitated because The Dale doesn’t a ton of storage space, but I really wanted to honour the gift that this friend was giving to us. I thanked him, and took the bag.

A moment or two later, I remembered another conversation that I’d had with a friend who is newly-housed. This person is struggling to make his place feel like a home, as the walls are completely bare. He had asked me to keep an eye out for pictures to help him fill the empty spaces…! Luckily, he was still hanging out in the area, so I was able to hand him the entire bag of paintings. He was thrilled, and took off down the street to buy some double-sided tape with which to hang his new home decor.

So there you go. Sometimes things work out. 🙂