Since we first met Colin Clerke of Masonic Care in Cessnock and his good friend Neville Cameron, the maintenance man, whose compassion and patient persistence inspired such an improvement in Colin that he was able to move from the dementia wing into the mainstream hostel, life has continued to improve and Colin’s spark of life burns even brighter. (Read the full story of how this was achieved in The Garbage Run Miracle.)
Nowadays, Colin enjoys conversing with the other residents, which is a milestone improvement considering that when Neville first met him, he spoke only one repetitive line of conversation about the weather. Now Colin walks down to the lake by himself and enjoys feeding the wildlife. He is even playing eight ball and snooker with other residents and staff. Below, Neville shares even further improvements.
‘Colin still goes out with me regularly and loves helping with my tasks. Certain things I do spark his memory banks, for example, when we’re tiling it reminds Colin of when he used to help his brothers plastering the ceiling. This stimulates him to reminisce while he talks about the period in his late teens when he and his family worked together.’
‘Colin especially loves to be with me when I’m doing plumbing and carpentry work. He watches my every move; loves to carry the tools and is an excellent “gofer”.’
Colin has a newfound pride and confidence, and his new joy in life has allowed his natural sense of humour to develop further and bubble forth. ‘Sometimes I’ll say, ‘Col, will you grab me that screwdriver please?’ And there will be no answer. I look up to see him staring off into space, but when I say, ‘Col, are you having a sleep?’, quick as a flash – with a twinkle in his eye – he’ll say, ‘No, I’m just waiting for the bus.’
His cheery smile, eagerness to help carry a bag or open a door has endeared him to all at Cessnock. The withdrawn, reclusive Colin of old has gone and, with Neville’s wonderful mateship and encouragement, the kind and thoughtful chap – as his fellow residents now call him – has been reborn.