Robin Shillington sits peacefully in his room at The Salvation Army Agapé Hospice in Calgary. He glances out his window, the soft morning light illuminates his face as he turns and smiles, “It’s this month that I’ve known my wife for fifty years, and we’ve been married for forty-eight.”
Recently Robin was faced with some tough decisions after finding out he was diagnosed with an incurable lung disease. He says he’s grateful that his daughter arranged for him to come to The Salvation Army Agapé Hospice where his wife and family are close by.
“My friend’s mother spent her last days here,” remembers Robin, “He spoke very highly of the place, and I valued his opinion.”
Robin grew up in Belfast, Ireland. As a young man, Robin travelled to Singapore. During his trip he met a young woman named Helen, and they immediately fell in love. He convinced her to move back to Ireland, and for a while, life was good. But after some time, Helen became increasingly concerned for their safety due to the unstable political climate in Belfast.
“It did happen,” recalls Robin, “People were shot in the street, mistaken for someone else. It was very sad.”
It was the idea of a safe and secure new life, one with economic promise that motivated the couple to immigrate to Canada in 1967. However, the move wasn’t without any challenges. Helen was able to get into Canada immediately, but Robin was unable to immigrate because he failed a medical exam. By way of an x-ray, doctors had found a shadow on one of his lungs and feared it was Tuberculosis. Fortunately, it was just a scar left behind from a case of pneumonia that Robin had contracted as a child. After four long months, Robin landed into the arms of his beautiful wife and together they started their life in Eastern Canada.
After three years of working in Eastern Canada, Robin and Helen found their way to Alberta. Robin began a career in Alberta’s booming oil and gas industry. Now settled in their new home in Calgary, the couple was able to comfortably raise their two children.
When asked of his time spent in The Salvation Army Agapé Hospice, Robin leans forward and with a cheerful tone explains, “Since coming here, it’s been a wonderful experience. The people can’t do enough for us, I feel pampered and spoiled.”
Dealing with the end of life experience can be incredibly hard for individuals and their families. Robin claims to be at peace with the process, and part of that is due to the staff and volunteers who work at Agapé.
“It’s just a really pleasant place, and the people are so upbeat and really love their work, and know their job. It’s a pleasure to see this, in an age where everything is so fast paced – that people here are taking such an interest in their work – it really stands out. So I have nothing to complain about, only to feel wonderful.”