The day that Dot Van Wieren came to McNally House Hospice in late September 2019, her bright eyes were wide and twinkling expressing the wonder and inner happiness that she has held within her all of her life. Since that day, she has spread that happiness to all the staff and volunteers with whom she has interacted. Dot does not hesitate to express her happiness for being admitted to McNally House. “Coming here was like a penalty shot….. BOOM!”, she quips. “I feel like I’m home. I have my things, and my family is close by.”
In her room, Dot has her Mother’s tea set, sitting atop a gingham cloth embroidered by her Mother. Dot decided to incorporate the memory of this cloth in a unique way. Similar gingham was used to create curtains for a puppet theatre which has been constructed as a very special gift from Dot to her grandchildren. As a final gift, Dot wished to pass on the gift of creativity and imagination to her family through puppetry, which Dot loves. Once Dot expressed this idea to Shara McLaren, the art therapy candidate at McNally House, the project took off like a rocket! A volunteer was found to construct a wooden puppet theatre, Dot helped to paint the folk-art design of trees on the front, the gingham curtains were made, and the puppets were collected – the King, Prince, Princess, and Frog. The “Van Wieren Theatre” was born! Dot can’t wait to have the first show. “I can’t wait for the thrill of it!” She is excited by the creation of a family tradition that she began.
Dot has cultivated positive energy all her life. She has always looked for the positive in every situation. “My work is to help more people bring energy to others, and I’m not done yet!” she laughs.
Dot feels blessed by the care she receives from the staff and volunteers at McNally House. “They really mean it. You can’t fake caring.” She speaks freely of the home-like atmosphere of McNally House and of the positive energy given to her.
A blue jay often comes and sits on the outside window ledge of her room. “Blue jays have energy. A blue jay never runs out of things to say.”, Dot laughingly teases. Our conversation with Dot is coming to an end, but Dot has not run out of things to say. More reflectively, when asked how she feels, Dot says, “There’s a coming and a going, a time to come and a time to go.”