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Every day at 11 a.m. sharp, David Thompson makes the same walk, sits in the same chair and sings the same songs until noon.
“You know it’s something I enjoy, get up for if you like,” said the 88-year-old Thompson. “My friends know I’m not available between these times.”
Thompson’s daily performances take place at Revera Glenwarren Lodge long term care home, where he’s been busy serenading an audience of one, his wife, Eleanor.
“This is his way of staying connected and our way of helping him stay connected to his wife,” said Cortland Steenbock, Revera Glenwarren Lodge executive director. “It’s a love story.”
A love story that started in England when the two met while working at a hotel in 1956. After marriage, they moved to Victoria in the sixties and lived a joyful life full of travel, volunteerism and adventure. They raised four children and are now grandparents and great grandparents.
Their life together wasn’t without challenges, however, and there was none more daunting than when Eleanor was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease ten years ago and placed in long-term care.
That’s when David’s daily concerts began.
“I get a lot of pleasure out of it,” said Thompson, who’s missed a total of one week over the past decade due to a broken ankle. “Even though she may not understand that I’m there, there are times where she does, and that’s the joy.”
He chose singing because Eleanor has always loved music and spent many years of her life in a choir. Also, Thompson says singing may be the only way he can connect with his wife due to her condition.
“So it’s usually the last thing people who have that disease remember, so that’s one reason why I do singing.”
He also brings chocolate which the nurses feed to her.
Due to the pandemic, David is separated by a glass barrier but is allowed to visit in-person on Saturday. Although Eleanor’s condition has worsened over the years, David says the daily visits remain the highlight of his day.
“That to me is love, connecting with each other, it really is. I just hope she enjoys it,” he said.
“It’s incredibly touching,” said Steenbock, who says David even showed up and sang during last week’s snowy weather. “It’s humbling to see this kind of dedication.”
Next week marks the couple’s 65th wedding anniversary. David will be ready to perform then, the next day, and beyond.
“That’s right, yes, however long it might be.”