If there is one thing I know for sure, is that over the years, you and I have certainly laughed a lot together. We have always had the same sense of humour. I absolutely love that I can close my eyes and actually feel us laughing together. I will do this forever.
So that leads me into this introduction about JP. You had been living in St Vincents Hospital for approximately 3 years. I will never forget the day, that I walked into your room and one of your girlfriends said, “Did you hear that Karen has a boyfriend?” My mouth dropped open and I responded, “Figures!!!”
It became the topic of conversation. Everyone was asking, “Have you met Karen’s boyfriend yet ?” Geeeeeze and I kept adding,”Here is my sister, in the hospital, with a tracheotomy, having a challenging time eating /talking and SHE manages to get a boyfriend. I have been single for years and I still can’t meet anyone!!!” The circumstances that you met, and the journey over the last 5 years is a story to be told.
So yes, it was inevitable, that when a good looking and kind soul man like JP walked in to your life, you both captured each other’s heart. I truly believe that when you trust and allow the world to unfold as it should, all will simply fall into place.
Often, many of us have said, that JP is an angel. That our parents sent him to us. To all of us. Karen, you are also a gift to JP’s family. His sister Tara tells me all the time how much they love you and how important you are to all of them. Both you and JP came together at a time when you both needed companionship, care and love. You have and continue to nurture each other’s soul and spirit in a very special way. A way that I have never seen before.
I always get asked about JP. How the two of you met. I did ask JP if I could tell his story, and I am grateful he said I could.
In 1994, when JP was 24 years old, he had an accident at work. He was an electrician, and nearly died. He was also an alcoholic. He ended up on workers compensation, hit rock bottom and at the age of 28 he made a decision to quit drinking. That was 20 years ago. He has not had one drink.
Not being able to work, and in a completely different frame of mind, he found it challenging to work his way back into society. I do know that he turned to cycling, and that became his passion.
In April 2012, when he was visiting his dad at the same hospital that my sister resides in, they met. Karen was outside her room, sitting in her Wheelchair. JP and his sister went over to introduced themselves knowing there was a connection. Their other sister is married to one of my brother’s buddy.
Well the rest is history. Since the day JP met my sister, in April 2012, he has not missed one single day with her. He is with her from 10:30 – 15:45. He gets her up and out. He physically cares for her knowing more about her breathing, her medication, her discomforts and her pain. He washes her hair every single day. He books her hair cuts. Over the years he has bought birthday cards for all of us, knowing that Karen would want to send these. He is there to support Karen’s kids (now 18 and 16) when they visit on the weekends making sure they have subway and snacks. He takes para-transpo with Karen to her son’s hockey games, Thanksgiving and Easter dinners at our brother’s, his own family reunions. He has become a part of our family.
My brother and I know how fortunate we have been. We all have been given at least another 4 or 5 years with our sister than we ever thought we would have. Her kids are going to have more memories. Plus, individually we have grown so much more on the inside. I know I am a lot stronger now than I was 5 years ago.
To all the caregivers out there. You are truly amazing. Your strength, dedication, selflessness and courage are commendable. Every time I thank JP he says,” You don’t need to thank me Kathy, I love your sister.”
I love you sis,