A Reflection from the 1980s – by Kathy Kelly
George and Roy were almost polar opposites, but there were three things about them that were the same: both were tall, big men, both were caring, gentle giants and both had a quick temper. It was inevitable that they would clash. George worked in the Woodery, but Roy was retired when he came to Daybreak, so he stayed at home at the New House. One day George went to the Meeting Hall for lunch, as usual. He took off his work overalls and hung them on a hook by the door, then went to eat his lunch. Roy came by and saw the work overalls about his size, so he put them on. When George saw Roy in his overalls, he was furious and they soon came to blows. After that day, all the assistants at Daybreak were very careful to keep George and Roy apart from each other at all times.
Soon after that incident, the Seniors Club began and Roy became one of the first members. He enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow seniors and the comfort of a regular schedule to follow, just like he did when he was working. He liked being able to choose the activities that he would participate in and his favourites were: bowling and going for coffee, grocery shopping and delivering meals on wheels. Then, George turned 65 and decided to retire from the Woodery.
All the Seniors assistants were concerned about having George and Roy together in the Seniors Club. However, George surprised everyone and declared that he was going to spend his retirement at home. After a year of resting at home, George was ready to try the Seniors Club. We started by including him in activities with one friend, then gradually with more people and finally, he became a full member of The Seniors. We were careful not to place Roy and George in the same group and all was peaceful. Then George expressed a desire to deliver the meals on wheels. He was persistent in asking to help Roy with this job. Finally, the assistant who was driving Roy for the meals on wheels delivery, agreed to take George along. And to the surprise of all of us, it worked! Roy allowed George to sit in the front seat because he could read a map and help the driver with directions. George agreed to stay in the van and allow Roy to do the actual delivery. Slowly, the rift between them healed and they became friends.
In a team meeting the assistants reflected on the miracle that they had witnessed. George and Roy seemed destined to clash in a violent way, so we all kept them apart. But with the passing of years and the opportunity to get to know each other, they were able to step over some major differences. Their friendship continued to grow. One day George joined the painting group where Roy was king. Roy flamboyantly covered a large sheet of paper with one colour, then painted a swirl of another colour in the centre. George meticulously drew tulips on cards using markers. When George was offered the watercolour paints and brushes, he would paint his tulips and grass on the bottom of the large sheet of paper, leaving the top empty. Then, Roy was asked if George could paint tulips on the bottom of his beautiful banners. Roy agreed, so for the last few months of his life, George painted tulips on Roy’s colourful banners.
Now, both Roy and George have died. There is a framed painting hanging in the living room of The Club, that has become an icon of forgiveness for me. The background of the painting reveals Roy’s great energy and joy while the stately row of tulips shows George’s attention to detail. Together they remind me that forgiveness can and does happen even in the most unlikely situations.