Updated: Nov 26, 2022
This is so exciting. I just heard from someone who knew my birth father Stanislaw in the last years of his life.
During my research in Northern Ontario I discovered that Stanislaw had suffered a stroke around 1970, and that forced him to move into The Chateau nursing home in Kirkland Lake. I know from an old voters' list that he was living at The Chateau in 1972, and that he died there in 1978.
Now, a breakthrough. I heard from a woman who - in the 1970s - was working as a nurse at The Chateau. Here's what she wrote:
"I remember your dad very well.
"What I remember is he was paralyzed on his right side, possibly from a prior stroke. His arm was totally paralyzed and his leg was affected as well - although he walked with a cane.
"He spoke Polish when he wanted something but otherwise pretty much kept to himself.
He shared a room with a Marcel Lepage and Eugene Champagne (both who only spoke mostly fluent French) Therefore conversations were a bare minimal. All 3 men spent the majority of their day in their room smoking.
"Your dad took pride in his appearance and liked things done in a certain way. At times he would get frustrated and swear... in Polish, because a nurse didn't know what he wanted . But Stan was a gentleman in all respects. His frustration with his paralysis was what caused his anger.
"I remember when I would shave his face with the electric razor. He would always rub his face afterwards, to make sure it was to his liking. He liked his hair combed and I could tell he was a proud man.
"Overall I can tell you it was a pleasure taking care of him as I look back he reminds me of my father. I wish I could speak Polish as I would have loved to have conversations with him. It was a pleasure taking care of him."
Wow. After 70 years, that's the first positive, kind news I've had about my birth father.
At least now I have a little bit of a picture of him in my mind: a proud man, struggling to come to terms with the stroke that disabled him at a relatively young age, fastidious about his appearance, a smoker, sharing a room - but very little conversation - with two other guys.
I'm so grateful to my informant for contacting me. She left the nursing home the year before Stanislaw died, so she had no news about his last days and months. But she gave me something, and I will always be grateful for that.