mailto:JoncaJ@smh.caEvery morning, 81-year old Eileen Jessop leaves her room at the Cardinal Ambrozic Houses of Providence long-term care home and heads into the room next to hers. She helps her 100-year old neighbour, who is a bit deaf and blind, get dressed before they go down to breakfast. It’s a new phase in a very long relationship. Because Eileen’s neighbour is her mother.
“Yes, she helps me coordinate my clothes, and she’s very good at it,” laughs Lucille. “And she better be, because I don’t wanna look like a clown.”
Mothers and daughters. It’s a relationship that is almost always important and intense, but not many stay like that as long as this one. Eileen was born with issues that required her to live with her mother well into adulthood, and she did that until 2010 when her care needs took her to the Houses of Providence
“I like it here. They take care of me,” says Eileen. “And I love playing bingo. They call me the bingo queen.”
Bingo notwithstanding, there was an empty space in Eileen’s life where her mother had been for so long. Oddly though, she somehow knew it wouldn’t be forever. She spent five years telling everyone–Providence staff, other residents, her sister–that her mother would soon be joining her. She doesn’t know why she was so sure, but in 2015, Lucille moved in next door.
“You know that song, ‘Mother and Child Reunion’ by Paul Simon? That’s what this was,” says Dianne Morren, Eileen’s younger sister.
Dianne grew up understanding the very close, very specific relationship between her mother and her sister, and it did not surprise her at all that Eileen was so sure her mother would come back to her.
“It was just a case of life coming full circle. Now, Eileen is more the caregiver. She is the eyes and the ears of my mother. And it's just wonderful to be able to see them here. It's such a comfort to know they're together in such a great place.”
A century old and still sharp as a tack, Lucille agrees that she has ended up in a pretty good situation.
“My goodness, there's nothing like when you need care, and you have someone close to you to be in the experience with you. I don't think there's another place on earth just quite as good as this.”
Maybe one small, very small, complaint though. As you might imagine, Lucille spends a lot of time in her daughter’s room. And Eileen is, to put it mildly, a really big Elvis Presley fan. Her room is an absolute shrine to The King, jam-packed full of pictures and knickknacks and life-size models. It can be a little overwhelming, but Lucille isn’t complaining. Much.
“Oh, you know, Elvis is okay,” she says, grinning affectionately. “I’m just not as crazy about him as she is.”
Mothers and daughters.
Interested in learning more about what’s happening at Providence Healthcare, and how you can support the hospital’s priorities? Contact Justyna Jonca at JoncaJ@smh.ca.
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