Last week I thought several times about Alice. Hilary and I spent five days at London University Hospital (London Health Sciences Centre) with parents who were recovering from a serious mutual fall in their home.
Mom, age 83, was recovering from hip replacement surgery. Dad, age 87, was being monitored for some concerns which had shown up in his post-trauma check-up. He is almost blind from macular degeneration and cannot be at home alone.
I know the hospital to be world renowned for complicated neurosurgery and heart surgery.
Alice was a dear friend of my mother-in-law. Her husband Chuck, bull dog and jovial in appearance, was an executive in advertising at the London Free Press. When Hilary and I were first married our quaint little upstairs apartment was close to the residence of these family friends. I would often hail Chuck in the morning walking to work.
Both were considered as lively contributors to any party. Animated conversation. A tasteful joke. A song from any one of a number of Broadway shows. Alice's trade-mark was "Hello Dolly". It might sound corny now, but at the time it was great fun. My mother-in-law, Betty, would join in with her accomplished voice.
The connection with University Hospital came at Christmas time. For years Alice would donate her home and Christmas dinner to families some great distance from their homes and attending upon a seriously ill loved one at the hospital. In this fashion she and Chuck met people from all over Canada and the United States, and brought no small portion of joy to a time that was otherwise stressful.
Undoubtedly some of that light traveled from the dinner table back to the hospital bed. What a unique service!