The first thing you notice about Anita and Dave Cressman is the way Anita looks at him. You can see the couple who married in 1966 and raised three sons, who now have added five grandchildren to the family. Dave was an environmental planner with his own consulting business. Anita started as a teacher, and then stayed at home to raise their three sons.
“I did a lot of volunteer work,” says Anita. “Then I was hired by Elaine Shantz, Parkwood’s CEO, who was the Manager at the Credit Union’s Waterloo branch at that time. I worked there part-time until I was 72.”
After Dave had his first stroke in 1999, the couple were advised to put their name in at Parkwood, just in case, and are grateful they did so. “Dave had a second stroke about four and half years ago. This led to significant changes. He couldn’t eat, walk or speak, but he was cognitively aware. He chose to have a feeding tube, which didn’t really surprise our family. He has always been a determined and optimistic man.”
“It took over a year, but Dave finally moved into Weber Woods at Parkwood,” says Anita. “We are both Mennonite and have always known about Parkwood, as well as people who live and work there. With the pandemic, I am realizing more and more what a wonderful place this is. There has always been a sense of community and caring.”
The surprising bonus for Anita is the Friendship Group, started by the wife of another resident a few years before Dave arrived. “We are a circle of friends and we used to meet every morning with our loved ones,” says Anita. “Due to the pandemic, we now Zoom every Saturday. That has been an amazing experience in terms of the community and caring in that group.”
“Alan Cook, the chaplain, usually joins us. We have received so much support from him, regardless of our personal beliefs. When we couldn’t go in, he would visit with our spouses. He has been an important part of kindness at Parkwood.”
When the new role of essential caregiver was created, Anita didn’t hesitate to sign up. “I think creating this new role has gone really well. The staff made me feel so welcome even though there is a lot on their plates.”
Last summer (2020), and again at Valentine’s this year (2021), the Friendship Group brought lunch for the staff. “All of us just want to say thank you to everyone,” says Anita. “The staff are incredibly caring, especially when we couldn’t be there in person for our loved ones. Dave and I are so grateful to be at Parkwood.”