It's been another one of those weeks when everything just happens to come together, and that always tells me our story is meant to be.
On a side note, as I’m typing to you now at 7:44 a.m. on Sunday morning, it was one year ago today that we had Mackensie’s completely unexpected health scare. A few days of a belly ache led to major surgery at Elliot Hospital. We can never thank Dr. Fletcher Wilson enough. Thank goodness God put Mackensie in His hands. Also, thank you for all your prayers and good wishes. We really can’t do any of this stuff alone.
It really does take a village — thank you for being ours.
On Tuesday night we had our monthly Senior Resource meeting to discuss local concerns affecting our aging community.
No matter how old you are now, getting older is a guarantee for all of us.
I couldn’t wait to share with our committee that I had been invited to speak at our Grand Estates 55-plus community to a group of residents who meet to socialize together and learn what’s going on in our area. Mary Hagarty asked if I would speak to their group and I was honored.
So many interesting things came out of the time we spent together.
One of the first questions I asked was: Where was everyone from? It proved that southern New Hampshire is still a hot spot, I guess we could say. My dad moved us here in 1969 and today we constantly have families of all ages moving up from Massachusetts like we did, but now from so many other parts of the country too. Many residents moved here to be closer to family.
We spent some time talking about our upcoming elections and how they can become registered voters in our area.
The Real ID for a driver's license was a big topic, too. Remember, if you want to use your license for domestic flying as of October 1, 2020, it will have to be a Real ID.
What was their number one concern? Transportation. We can’t make the mistake of thinking that this pertains only to all of us as we get older. One thing we are still missing is a way for all of us to get around at any age — if we don’t want to, or can’t, drive our cars.
Rachel Behrens, one of our newest members to the Senior Resource Committee, spoke of when she lived in the Boston area and public transportation was available everywhere. Rachel said it was great to not have to worry about a car, the expense of parking that goes along with one and the many other costs also.
Rachel is a frequent traveler to Boston and told us how much she loves our Boston Express bus terminal right off of Exit 5. For $15 or less you can have a nice relaxed ride into Boston with a trained driver and no frustration. When I told the girls about the meeting, Meredith gave it a try this past Saturday to meet a friend. With a call to Rachel for a few more details, she tried it, loved it and plans to do it again! Meredith was shocked by how easy it was, just as Rachel said she arrived just 15 minutes before, the buses run just about every hour, she traveled alone, relaxed and it was great.
The problem is, what is the solution for us here? Could we do something like that on a smaller scale? We have been investigating other towns and cities throughout our state. The city of Lebanon, with a population of just 15,000 has a public transit system that works great.
For years, many of our residents have been saying transportation is a major concern. We do have many great nonprofits in our area, thank goodness, that do help with this, but that takes many many volunteers. Medical appointments are the number one worry and concern. How do they get to and from doctors’ appointments, and sadly from treatment appointments as well?
Jump to Friday night, with special thanks to Kirby Brown, John and I attended the Elliot Health System’s 18th annual gala to raise awareness and funding for the new Elliot Regional Cancer Center they hope to open in 2020 (remember, exactly one year ago we were in their emergency room.)
I had no idea that for most cancer patients they must travel from one medical center to another for treatment. Consultation and diagnosis at one place, surgery at another location, and then follow up chemotherapy/radiation in still another location. Often these are not even in the same town or area. Toss in the problem of getting transportation when you are going through something like this, and it can be overwhelming, especially for someone who is very ill.
The vision of the Mary and John Elliot Charitable Foundation is to expand the services of their existing Regional Cancer Center, so that they will have everything a patient and their family will need in one location.
One speaker shared with us his journey of having cancer. He described how tired he was going from location to location for his treatment. His wife was by his side, but he described how constantly cold cancer patients are. How he dreaded having to put his coat on to go from one town to another for the treatment he required.
He said as his wife would drive from place to place, he would say, “I’m so tired, I’m so cold.” Today, he is cancer free and grateful, but with the expansion of the Elliot Health System Regional Cancer Center, future patients will have one location to be treated and heal in.
A wonderful young man, Kyle Heavy, while sitting at our table said, “It does make you think, cancer doesn’t have sick or snow days ever.” As another speaker said, soon with everyone’s help “everything will finally be under one roof.”
What warmed my heart the most was all the volunteers that were there, who have given so many hours behind the scenes. Unexpectedly, we connected with dear friends from the past who have always given so much.
First, Cindy McNally of Derry, who was one of the best coaches ever at Saint Thomas Aquinas Elementary School when the girls were little. Cindy was there with her mom, who has been an Elliot volunteer for years.
Next, we saw Meredith Trudel. When I was a varsity cheerleading coach at Londonderry High, Meredith DeCola was a shining light. Meredith was always such a happy, loving, kind student that it would only make sense that she continues to find time to volunteer and help others. She touched our lives so much back then that we named our Meredith after her.
My hat also goes off to Kelli Rafferty, director of development, an amazing young woman with a humble heart. Please contact Kelli at KRafferty@elliot-hs.org, or call 603-663-8934 if you could be a donor and help us with “Hope Is Here.” A special hug to Debra Smith, who took a chance and sat with us, and took the time to share all of this information with us.
Oddly enough, next week we are going to talk about the last name Smith! As always what are the chances that we would have so many tie-ins this week?
Sherry Farrell is town clerk in Londonderry and a lifelong resident of New Hampshire.