In the late nineties, I bought a summer home in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland. When I first saw it, Allan, my late partner, took one look and said ‘you are not going to buy this sh.. hole are you?’ Well …I did! It took a year to restore it. It was a 150-year old Captain’s home right on the ocean, and it turned out to be just beautiful when finished.

But, that’s not the story…

My next-door neigbour was Barb. Barb was very outgoing and a wonderful cook. She set up a fine dining restaurant in her home to make money which became very successful for a few years. Barb was going through a tough divorce,in a town of 1,500. When you live in a small town where your husband is the denturist and is dating his assistant…and you have two boys—that’s very difficult!

When I was working on the house Barb was such a great friend: she watched over the contractor, fixed the washer and dryer herself, and brought furniture for the house, such as old iron beds, antiques, etc. I wasn’t there. I was in Toronto and tried to get down once a month. So, without Barb, it never would have happened.

The last time I was here a couple of years ago, I was meeting Barb for lunch. She jumped out of her car saying she had just been diagnosed with a brain tumor. A week later I was sitting in the hospital waiting room with family and friends waiting for her to come out of surgery! I was in shock, but not Barb. She was beyond Super Woman!! In my eyes, she could multi-task 20 hours a day if she had too.

She was left with some mobility issues, with the right side very affected including her arm. She walks in a limited way with a stick, and driving and cooking are no-no’s. Barb is just 60 year old, and very independent. I had trouble sleeping after we had lunch. Barb was, and still is, such an inspiration to me…she could do it all! She is strong and tough, but kind and fair. She is compassionate, as well as curious, and the twinkle is still in her eyes. In my mind, she has a lot to teach to a whole bunch of people, those with disabilities as well as those without. I will always love this lady!



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