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UntoldStories

Leonora

Being a mother to all

Leanora Dryden-Taylor immigrated to Canada from Jamaica in the 1960s, first working in housekeeping. She later enrolled in secretarial school and worked various jobs to support her two children, and to bring her other five children to Canada in order to reunite her family.

Leanora became an administrative assistant in the Interns Residence in the late 1970s, then in the accounting office at the Montreal General Hospital, where she remained until her early retirement in the 1990s. Leanora has always been business-oriented, driven to make a difference in people’s lives and to give back to her community. With this in mind, she bought the home next door to hers and partnered with the Quebec Northern Module (known today as Ullivik, meaning “place to stay”) to provide temporary housing to persons from the Nunavik communities who would come to Montreal to receive health care services. This experience was life-changing as it allowed her to know more about the Indigenous community and their culture, and formed lasting friendships. When the organization restructured their operation and no longer needed these “foyers”, Leanora, being an entrepreneur and caregiver at heart, developed a new partnership: with the Douglas Hospital. She turned her own home into a group home, becoming a caregiver to persons with mental health difficulties. She remained a caregiver for the Douglas Hospital until her 70s, when she retired.

Leanora is a person who has a strong relationship with God and was active in her local church. The church friends in the neighborhood who worked full-time would ask Leanora if their children could eat lunch in her home or stay with her afterschool until they arrived from work. Leanora never refused; she always offered her home to those in need, her door was always open. She also would drive whomever needed a lift home from church, even if it was out of her way, she didn’t mind.

Leanora is a no-nonsense woman with a dry sense of humor and loves to help people any way that she can; as she always used to say: “It could be me or my children in need; so, I must help others whenever I can! God put us on this earth to help each other.” Knowing the impact her giving spirit and hospitality has on other’s lives is what gives her joy at the end of the day!

Today, Leanora has seven grandchildren, 19 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren, and nine great-great grandchildren!

Henry and Esther

An inspiring story about connection at any age

Henry and Esther’s story starts with a phone call: when Esther dialed Henry by mistake, it sparked a conversation that lasted for hours. Henry, who was previously diagnosed with mixed dementia, told his children about his encounter but they didn’t think much of it… until Esther showed up at the door. Shoshana, Henry’s daughter with whom he shares a duplex, answered the door and found out he had sent a taxi to pick Esther up. When it was clear the two wouldn’t be finished talking any time soon, Shoshana invited Esther out to dinner with them, as it was also Henry’s birthday. The rest is history!

Henry had tried dating in the past, but nothing had come close to the deep, mutual connection that he and Esther have. Like any relationship, they came across a few roadblocks along the way; but after a year and a half of spending just about all their time together, the two families saw the value in their coupling and decided it would be beneficial for both Henry and Esther to officially move in together.

Shoshana shared that it had been years since she’d seen her father laugh as he did the first day they spent together. Henry and Esther have a connection all their own, but given the challenges following a diagnosis of dementia, their relationship has been facilitated by the support of their families: their adult children communicate with each other regularly to ensure their parents’ wellbeing, and Shoshana gladly welcomed Esther as part of their family.

The story of Esther and Henry is a testament to the value of companionship, a demonstration of the importance of familial support, and proof that at any age, at any stage, love is possible.

Watch Henry and Esther tell their story.

Henry and Esther

Photo credit: Aglow Photography

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