Eastern Health’s Service and Retirement Awards Series
Beverly White can’t remember a day when Dorothy Gullage wasn’t in her life. Being lifetime neighbours living parallel lives on the same street and working together in the same Eastern Health facility is as natural to them as the spectacular sunset views over Bonavista Bay.
During a recent interview, with Bev in my office and Dot on the phone, they muse in disbelief that 25 years has come to pass.
“Sure we’ve never had an argument nor unkind word between us,” Bev points out to Dot.
Still talking, Bev passes the phone on to me mid-sentence and jokes in a matter a fact tone. “Dot is an odd sock!” Amidst the laughter, it’s apparent that there is a deep rooted connection of love and respect that is so tangible that it’s felt by all who are witness to the Bev and Dot duo.
Both Bev and Dot work as recreation therapy workers at the Golden Heights Manor and the Protective Care Unit in Bonavista. Through recreational activities such as exercise, outings, crafts and games, hymns and monthly birthday parties, they maintain, enhance and improve the health, independence and quality of life of the residents.
“It’s been like a dream,” says Dot as she reflects back in time over her career. “My goal has always been to encourage enjoyment and togetherness within a loving environment – and it still is.”
“I really put myself in it, and I totally believe that laughter is the best medicine. Sometimes residents need encouragement to participate and I draw them out,” she adds.
“And there have certainly have been many changes in 25 years,” adds Bev. “When I was first hired, a new resident could drive independently into the parking lot and then walk into Golden Heights Manor with suitcase in hand! But as our population has aged, the needs of our residents have changed too. Now many of our residents require a higher level of care for them to even accomplish simple everyday tasks.”
Whether it’s Bev with her angelic singing voice or Dot with her quick wit and high energy, the lives of our residents and staff have been enriched because of their commitment and devotion to caring for residents at Golden Heights Manor.
One story truly demonstrates the sheer dedication to duty they both share.
During winter storms, Bev and Dot often walk to and from work together, sometimes in weather that most wouldn’t attempt with a four-wheel-drive, let alone on foot.
As Bev tells it, during one extreme winter storm, they were walking home when Dot was hit by a taxi. “It knocked her to the ground,” recalls Bev. “It was quite the fright at the time!”
When the mortified taxi driver stopped to ask Dot if she was ok, in true Dot fashion, she said: “I don’t know. Ask me tomorrow.”
With no broken bones or bitterness, it was no surprise to anyone that the hit song of the night at that year’s community Christmas concert was: “Dot got run over by a taxi!”
As retirement becomes more of a reality, they’ve begun thinking about life after their careers. Dot plans to spend more time with her grandchildren and get more involved with her church and volunteer activities, while Bev plans to start a new business offering house cleaning services.
So, would they change anything? After the briefest of pauses, Dot said: “We would make the moments last longer and slow the years from passing so quickly and, without a doubt, we’d keep on working.”
Beverly White and Dorothy Gullage will accept their 25-year Service Awards on April 9, 2014, at a ceremony at Harbour Quarters in Bonavista. ■
This story was written by Charlotte Ritman, a recreation therapist at and team lead at the Golden Heights Manor.