By Linda Benson

It’s hard to believe that it’s already September, this summer seems to have flown by. I hope you’ve all enjoyed your summer this year. For many, it would have been the first time, in a couple of years,that they’ve felt safe enough to get out and about. I felt that way too. My 92 year old Mother passed away just a few months into the start of the pandemic. At that time she was living in a care facility in England. It was a very difficult time for all the family, especially for me, being so far away from her. No one was allowed visitation or attendance at the funeral. I think for many in my family and countless families around the world, this has been one of the worse sides of Covid, not being able to say goodbye or find closure.

On a more positive note, her passing allowed me to buy a car. So this summer, for the first time in countless years, I have been able to see a bit more of Southern Ontario. I visited many friends whom I hadn’t seen in 5 or 6 years, and I enjoyed being on the road with a couple of my special friends. Road Trips are certainly fun (I felt like I was in a Thelma and Louise movie!). I traveled around Lake Erie, to places I have never seen before; this was quite exciting and eye opening. I also took a friend to Lake Huron, and we visited places she has never been to, or even heard of before. Of course I fell in love with a couple of these towns, especially Goderich. I was ready to stay there and never return to Hamilton; however I needed to bring my friend home, back to her husband and family.

As much as I disliked the idea of returning to Hamilton, a day after I returned, I realized how much there is to love about this city. There is so much about Barton Village to be proud of. It is home, at least for now. Hamilton is basically all I have known, since moving to Canada in 1982. I lived for a year in Burlington before moving to Waterdown, which at the time was a part of Halton, before integrating into Hamilton. I also lived on the “mountain” for 20 years before a stint on Locke Street where I had my business and my home, and lastly my move to Barton Village, almost 16 years ago. So you may say I am a Hamiltonian, if only by design.

Last week I got a call from the SYMBIOSIS, a Co-Housing program, run through McMaster University, asking me if I was willing to take a student into my home. I had registered with them in 2019, however, because of covid, I had not heard anything further. This call came as a total surprise; I was told that they may have the perfect match for me.

Symbiosis a worldwide program, matches students with seniors. It’s a win- win situation for all, the student gets free to low rental, and the senior gets companionship and help around the house. I was informed that my potential student is a native Canadian, in her 3rd year of engineering and a Christian. I met with her this past week; we arranged a half hour visit. However, after almost 6 hours together, we mutually agreed this was indeed a perfect match. My student, a female, is also a diabetic, something I know a lot about, although she is a type 1, diagnosed at the age of 15 and I am technically a type 2, diagnosed during my first pregnancy at the age of 33. She has a leaning towards the Baptist approach to Christianity, and I attend a Baptist church, Hamilton Fellowhships, located in the rejuvenated Westinghouse Building, on Sanford Avenue, ( both love to cook and enjoy nature, walking and generally wanting to become more involved in our community. Although we are 50 years apart in age, we desire and dream about the same things. We both wish for a more peaceful coexistence with our neighbors and community in general, and, we both aspire to see our community prosper and grow. She is environmentally concerned and wishes to see more pollinator gardens around the city; hopefully, she will help me design my own pollinator garden. She is hoping to find a placement in a natural setting. I think she will be of enormous help in the Barton Village, maybe with the Depave program or something similar. I’m sure she will find her wings. I am excited about our future together, no matter how short…….

If you are a senior living alone, have a spare bedroom in your home, and desire companionship from a younger person, please contact Symbiosis. Or reach out to me, and I can give you more information and/or help you with your registration.

On a final note, I took my student for a walk around the area, of course we went to the Emerald Café for a treat and sat on their back patio, which is super cozy, had the 541 been open we would have gone their too, but at least I showed her where it is. We visited the former Westinghouse, and I took her for a jaunt through Woodlands Park, she was particularly interested in the art work throughout the park. On this particular day, there was a basketball tournament happening, the place was alive with music and laughter and crowds of people. Upon speaking to one of the spectators, we learned that this particular event was a fund raiser for Sickle Cell Anemia. One of the young men mentioned that his brother had been afflicted by this terrible disease. I was so touched to see that this “new” basketball court was being used for something great. I have never, in all my 16 years of living here, felt so excited and proud of what is happening, not only to Woodlands Park, but to our Central Hamilton Area…..

Let’s not forget to get out and Vote for our municipal electives. We need more open spaces, more community hubs, like Woodlands Park, we need the right person to represent our wards, especially in Ward 3.