Some of you will know Graeme Chisholm as a talented organist, some as a much loved Head Master but to Little Haven he was a Godsend – our biography volunteer. A man with a willing ear and an open heart who over the past 8 years sat with about 50 of our patients, listened to their life stories, put their memories into words and bound them up in a book as a precious keepsake for families.
Last week we celebrated Graeme’s wonderful generous contribution to Little Haven and to the families he worked with. At 78 he’s decided he’s put down his pen to devote more time to his own family without the pressure of always having something else needing his attention. At our afternoon tea he spoke of how much it had meant to him to be a part of his clients story telling and seeing their spirits lift as they shared their memories.
His inquisitive teacher’s mind always learning something from each person – fascinating, funny and sometimes heartbreaking stories. Graeme would make several visits, often rounding out the story with further online research or contacting schools or workplaces for more information. The finished biographies include photographs and illustrations, provide a lasting memory for families and friends and often are a useful tool for families when it comes to writing eulogies.
Little Haven RN Kelly King loves reading the biographies as they come in for printing – enjoying learning more about our patients, the history of the local area, the conditions they endured and happy these stories will live on. The rich tapestry of life!
Families often share how much the biography service means to them, and we see firsthand what a difference it can make to our patients being given the opportunity to sort through their memories in such a positive way – an important affirmation of the value of each person’s life.
At Little Haven we pride ourselves on the individual, compassionate care we provide to every person, their family and friends, with an emphasis on getting to know the person who has the disease and not just the disease a person has. The biography service is certainly all about this.
We thank Graeme for the invaluable contribution he has made to Little Haven and wish him and his wife Lynne all the best in their “retirement”. Taking over the reins are two talented wordsmiths – volunteers Liz Lewis and Christine Patea, who are looking forward to the challenge of filling the big shoes Graeme has left.