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COLUMN: Small gesture of human kindness helped make photo book a family treasure

Surrey London Drugs employee’s mindful presence was a gift for the ages
Preet Heer offers her father Didar Heer a glass of water during his final hours at Surrey Memorial Hospital. (Photo submitted)

Did. Didn’t. The power of an apostrophe and two letters that create a completely opposite meaning.

This is a very human story of Lynea Kingsborough, an employee of London Drugs in South Surrey, who rescued the n’t to save an online coffee table book I was making for my partner.

In March, my father in-law, Didar Heer, died at the age of 95. He had endured a six-year relationship (will not use the word battle) with advanced dementia. Originally from Punjab, India, near the end, his constant refrain: take me back to the village.

My partner, Preet Heer, his oldest daughter, cared for him with love and compassion during the various stages of the dementia process. As she explained, she did not see the requirements of care – dosing medication, bathroom rituals (supporting both one and two), listening again and again with patience, monitoring his wandering around late at night, making sure he did not escape the house (to find the village) – as in any way a chore.

Rather, she would look into his deep beautiful eyes, catch many smiles, and know that she wanted to be there with him –not from a place of duty but from a place of deep love.

There is one picture of Preet and her dad, near the end. They are at Surrey Memorial Hospital. She offers him a glass of water, her beautiful smile ear to ear as she spends some final hours with her father. The picture is a feature in the photo book I created.

The book: I wanted to create a special gift for Preet’s upcoming birthday. I could think of nothing better than to honour the special relationship, in picture form, she had with her dad. I created the book online using the London Drugs platform. After some trial and error, I got to the point of hitting submit. I felt very satisfied.

A few hours later the phone rang. I did not recognize the number, and as many of us do these days, contemplated not answering. But something told me to pick up and am glad I did.

Lynea, a kind voice from London Drugs was on the other end of the line. She told me she thought the book was beautiful, but she had just one question: when talking about Preet taking care of her dad, did I really mean to say, “she did see this as a chore,” or did I mean to say “didn’t?”

Oh my gosh, I meant didn’t, didn’t, didn’t!!!

“I thought so,” she said with such kindness, and Lynea said she would edit accordingly.

I was so shocked that I almost made such an egregious error, and our phone call ended too quickly. I wanted to say more by way of thanks.

After, I got to thinking about what an amazing gesture of human kindness Lynea made to me directly, and to Preet and her dad indirectly. That she took the time to recognize a missing apostrophe and two letters for me is a gift for the ages. She could have mailed it in, finished the rendering with little notice, but she did not. Lynea’s mindful presence to her job had such a profound impact.

I also recognize that in our online world there are people, kind and good people, in the back shop of the process. We click here, submit there in the seemingly impersonal world of online shopping. But in my case, there was Lynea, a behind the scenes gift, who gave me a call and made sure my screw up did not see the light of day.

Did. Didn’t. Lynea didn’t let me fail. Thank you.

And the book? The final picture is of Mr. Heer visiting his village. He has made the final trip home.

Stephen Dooley is executive director of SFU Surrey.

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