Calling it a day
Gwynn Shaw retiring as Drector of Recreation at Alderwood Rest Home after 43 years of service
She moves around the common room with practiced ease. A light touch on a shoulder, a whisper in an ear, shifting a resident’s posture. Practiced it should be, she has been doing this for over 43 years for the same institution. That is a remarkable run and, by all accounts, she has done it well. But now Gwynn Shaw has decided to retire as Director of Recreation from Alderwood Rest Home and join her husband Kenny in retirement.
There are big shoes to fill for the next director. Expectations will run high as great standards have been established during her time at Alderwood.
As we talk, residents and guests stop, chat, wave, or take a moment to engage Gwynn. They are comfortable in her presence. And she is with them. It is a relationship built up these many years both at the old Alderwood (now Macleod House) and the new Alderwood, erected in 2010.
Like most of her days, people bang on the door, stick their head in, greet her in the hall. Informality surrounds this lady. She wouldn’t have it any other way. When asked how she got started, she tells me she hated school and asked her dad if she could quit if she got a fulltime job. She found a job at Alderwood in 1975, at the age of 16, and that was it for school. Dad kept his word.
She started in the kitchen, spent 25 years in housekeeping, and then graduated to Director of Recreation.
When I asked her why she stayed, she was blunt.
“The money was good and I bought a new outfit every payday.”
But for that many years? You can only buy so many outfits.
“The residents became like family, we had a lot of laughs together. It was like Grammie and Grampy were here. You got attached to them.”
What were the highlights for Gwynn? What made her smile?
“When someone with dementia called me by name, I knew then that they knew who I was. It made it special.” When was it sad? “When we lost one of the residents. Some were here over 27 years.”
Gwynn said that it has been a wonderful run filled with many great memories, but she also realizes that it is time to go.
Does she have any advice for whoever takes her place?
“Remember, you wear many hats here...expect to learn as you go... Every day is different.”
Gwynn punches her last door code on January 11, 2019. She will miss her residents and they will miss her.