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Community Heartbeat: Remembering Linda


August 14th,2010  dawned clear and bright, and the sun shone gently on St. Bonaventure’s church and a community with heart who had gathered together to pay homage to a woman of great love and an exceptional life who became a symbol of unity to hearts moved by love.

Linda was a professional and beloved wife and mother of three children.  Like many adults who think they are invincible, she was suddenly and mysteriously taken over by schizophrenia and heard voices that no one else could.  Only she recognized and understood those voices – some were the whispers of loved ones, others were persistent murmuring voices that began to drive her away from her home and onto the streets of Don Mills.

Linda made her new home on a bench in our community. Lots of  kind members of the community remember her with kindness and love – the children who ran to share their lunch with her, the generous parents who gave her money to help support her. We cared deeply about Linda as did her grateful family.

There were others though, who viewed her with less than loving feelings. They deemed her a nuisance, did not like her presence in “their” park and vociferously pleaded with the city to take her bench away. Linda was forced to move on to other benches and less sympathetic neighbourhoods and eventually died alone and friendless on the streets of North York, outside a gas station where nobody cast a sideways glance at her pitiful plight.

Wake up, citizens of the world. This could be you or me.  Disease and illness makes no distinction between the rich and privileged or the poor and helpless – it could happen to anyone.  We all play a part in how the world shapes up around us- whether by actively participating to make a positive difference, or to show negligence and indifference to the plight of  our less fortunate brothers and sisters , or to actively vote against their welfare.  What we do to the least of our brethren, we actually do to ourselves!

And so we gathered, the young and the old, some walking with canes and some with four paws, little ones that skipped , toddlers who needed to be hoisted onto stronger shoulders  and hearty able adults , teenagers and parents, putting aside their weekend fun activities and household duties –  all united in  our determination and fervour to not let Linda’s life disappear into the annals of the forgotten, the lonely and the obscure. To remind ourselves that this community had a heartbeat that is stronger than the law, the city and that no other helpless person will go untended.

Because we are all Linda !  We pledged with united voices to support any person without a voice of their own, who needs our care and support to rebuild their lives . Especially those who face mental health, homelessness , danger from living in unprotected places, and despair.

We started by walking – just one foot (or paw) in front of the other- one step at a time, declaring our unity of purpose, our footsteps echoing the heartbeat of the community – as others looked up from their car washing and other sundry Saturday morning chores and having discovered why we were doing the event, decided to join the walk.

We raised a large amount of money to support St.Clare’s Inn which shelters women with mental health issues. But more than that we raised the awareness of a community -that we are all connected and that the condition of our fellowman is a reflection of the wellbeing of the community, and an indicator of the health of our hearts!

Come Join Linda’s Walk  in September ! What are you doing to serve the community you are in?

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Categories : Personal Stories

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