To the Editor,
A little more than three years ago, my father moved into the Chartwell assisted living facility in Elmira. In the space of 10 days he lost his wife of almost 60 years, moved to a new place, and got locked down due to the pandemic.
It was extremely difficult but the staff and residents at Chartwell and the people in the neighbourhood were amazing. My Dad had to move recently as he needed a higher level of care. I miss my trips to Elmira and wanted to say thank you to the community. Elmira is a special place.
The residents at Chartwell became friends. We greeted each other regularly and talked about the weather, the Blue Jays, how my car needed a wash, or any number of other things. I met new residents and mourned those that left us during my father’s time there.
The staff were amazing. These were difficult years and the interaction with staff were almost universally positive and their empathy was obvious. I was particularly impressed with some of the young people working part-time. If these young people were representative of the coming generation, the future of Elmira is bright.
My Dad is a walker. As soon as we could, we took walks in the neighbourhood. I miss the people we regularly said hello to. I miss Koda the dog coming out to say hi and get his ears scratched. One woman said we could sit on her porch if we ever needed a rest. Another worried when she didn’t see us for a few days. We empathized with the woman who was taking her aging and failing dog for his last walk. I appreciated the woman who chased us down and gave us some Elmira hothouse tomatoes, saying it was nice to see us out walking so much.
We saw young people growing up (the baby two doors down who went from a stroller to a toddler running up and down the sidewalk waving hello) and new neighbours move in. We felt a part of the neighbourhood.
It wasn’t all perfect. There were those that yelled “f$#%# sheep” from their pickup trucks when I was wearing a mask with my Dad (as required by Public Health). There were those that gave the middle finger digital salute, too. But every family has its individuals. My experience in Elmira was overwhelmingly positive. It’s easy to forget how important community is in today’s polarized world. Thank you, Elmira. You Rock!!
Michael von Massow