Friendship is a powerful thing, but there are often circumstances that can compromise even the strongest of bonds. Family commitments, health, proximity and sometimes even the passing of time can play a role as to why even the best of friends end up losing touch.
93-year-old Charles, a resident of Chartwell Belcourt Retirement Residence in Orleans, Ontario, got to talking to Lifestyle & Program Manager Wendy Lapierre one afternoon about his old friend, Don, who he hadn’t seen in over 35 years. The two pals met back in 1954 while working as customs officers. Don trained Charles on his first day on the job, and from that moment on, a special kinship was formed. As Charles thumbed through an old photo album, he reminisced on how he and Don would hunt together, laugh together and support each other in times of need. For a good while, they were inseparable.
Alas, as strong as their bond was, life intervened. Years passed, and the two saw less of one another. They found time to chat over the telephone every once in a while, but because of distance and circumstance, sitting in each other’s company had become an insurmountable feat—or so it seemed.
Wendy took note of the way Charles lit up when talking about Don, figuring she could do something to help close the gap between the two friends. On June 22, Charles and Wendy boarded the residence’s van and made the trek to Montreal, unbeknownst to Don. After a two-and-a-half-hour ride, they arrived at Don’s doorstep, and he immediately recognized Charles, his oldest friend.
“Don had no idea Charles was coming, and he was overwhelmed with joy,” recalls Wendy. “He couldn’t wait to get his wife, Ysel, to see Charles after all these years. She is living with dementia, but recognized Charles immediately. It was such a beautiful moment.”
Charles, Don and Ysel spent the day reminiscing over lunch, sharing memories, tears and laughter. Before the visit ended, Wendy surprised them with a photo album for their reunion.
“It was an unforgettable day,” says Wendy. “Charles was grateful for the reunion, and I was so pleased to be a part of it. It is a blessing working at Chartwell and being able to witness such special moments.”