“Moving to Heritage Place was one of the best and wisest move I ever made, and I love it!”, says John Shaw. He couldn’t stop smiling as we began this interview. The 85-year-old tenant of Heritage Place is currently the longest living resident of this local assisted living home and was among the very first to move in almost a decade ago.
“When this place was being built, I immediately considered it to be an ideal home for me right next door to Echo Village, where my wife Phillis used to live.
His life in Heritage Place has been gratifying and meaningful, and he is eager to share the many services he and other tenants get here. “For starters, each tenant gets an excellent suite; care workers to see to your care needs, if required; maintenance personnel to make sure everything is in working order; your meals are served by excellent staff; and our activities co-ordinator, who is ‘out of this world’!
“We also have a real life chef/manager/supervisor/ ‘jack of all trades’, who makes our lives blessed.”
Shaw was born in Doncaster, England in 1930. He was the fourth child in a family of six, raised by his mother, as his father was in military hospital for most of his upbringing. Young John and his family moved to Coventry just in time to get bombed out of their home in 1939.
Later on, Shaw served in the army for some years and spent two years in Scotland.
In 1952, he met his wife Phillis on a bus while on his way to meet his girlfriend at the time. They were married on April 3, 954 and soon after they bought their first house in the country.
“Our house had no sewage (just a bucket) and a well of water; a huge garden with a canal at the bottom with no neighbours but a thatched roof pub opposite the house, and sawdust floor,” he remembers.
Five years after the birth of their only child Susan, the Shaws moved to Canada in 1965 and bought a cottage in Sioux Lookout, Northern Ontario.
In 1972 they moved to Port Alberni and decided that this would be their permanent home. John became sick in 1975 from a brain tumour. At this point, Phillis left her teaching position to take care of him until his recovery in 1982.
Life came back to normal after that, but things turned around when Phillis was diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease. She was placed in Echo Village in January 2000 where she lived until her passing in 2011, seven days after their 57th wedding anniversary.
“We had a very happy life together,” says Shaw. “While I was sick, without my voice; left side paralyzed, and having seizures all the time, she looked after me at all times,” he adds.
If anybody wants to learn about Heritage Place and its services, there is no better spokesperson than John Shaw. He is seen regularly taking part at events and socializing with other tenants and visitors. His cordial approach and good sense of humour makes him a great host and ambassador.
“All in all, I think we are extremely fortunate to live here,” he says.
“I know I am.”