A Beautiful Example of Giving
Harry Bridgeman is a beautiful soul. He is a poet and an author. The remarkable thing is that Harry also has a rare neuromuscular disorder. To be a writer when you have a disorder destroying your muscles is difficult and very painful. Harry also has been volunteering several times a week at an elderly care facility in Cambridge, Ontario. Unfortunately, his service has come to an end due to his progressive disability. He shares his story here at Being Better Humans in hopes that people will see the beauty in giving of themselves and their time to others – even as they face their own hurdles.
“I need that little bit of relief in my life; it is too lonely staying home with no friends and just my aging parents to talk with. Volunteering makes me feel like a different person where I can let go of my pain and sadness for awhile and help seniors that have all the same feelings; my heart reaches out to the residents I work with because I can easily relate to their feelings and what they are going through.”
“The time has come though, and I had to leave my job due to my own disability. But I have to remember the positive too. I have spent 19 months getting out into the community, not just to help myself but to help others. I have visited and tried to be a true friend with nine different residents spending four hours, 3-4 times a week, including every long weekend holiday.
Many of the residents I have visited have passed on. Only three are still living but they are all forever a part of my heart. I have also spent time with families getting to know both the residents and their loved ones. They always made me feel welcome and part of the family when visiting. I have left of rooms laughing and I have left rooms crying but, through it all, I have grown in love, caring, and I have gained a much bigger understanding towards others feelings and needs (as well as learning a lot about mental diseases.)
Volunteering also helped me face some of my own fears. The more time I spent with a resident the more they opened up to me and I soon found out that they all shared a lot of the same fears and feelings as I do. Life is very scary and lonely for some, especially the elderly, yet time stops for no one and is extremely valuable; do with it what you can, while you can.
Always remember that life is very short and there are much more important things in life than our own fun and selfish needs. I will really miss my home away from home, but I will never forget all the beautiful faces or what I’ve learned from my resident friends.”
Harry has SMA, spinal muscular atrophy. It is a slow progressive disease that takes away his abilities little by little. “I used to walk, drive, and many other things but over the years it has taken so much that I can barely hold my head up or feed myself,” Harry says, “But that is life and I believe we all have equal problems, we just need to take our heads out of the clouds and look around. No matter how bad there is still always someone worse, and we all need to look out for one another.”
Through all of the struggles in Harry’s life, he still shines his light through his poetry and insight over at his Facebook page. The video above is from his page. He also happens to be the author of the amazing book The Happiness Contagion, which I have read several times and highly recommend!
Harry recently received the coveted Volunteer of the Year Award for his dedication. Congrats, Harry!
“Smile and return to your happy place, let the love of life shine on your face. When the road gets rough and life gets scary, have trust and faith don’t let your spirit be wary. Choose to be happy, love-life and live! smile because you have so much love to give.” © Harry Bridgeman, The Happiness Contagion
Harry always ends his writings with the words Shine On. I find it only fitting to say, Shine on, Harry, Shine On!
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