This week I saw my final Pediatric VIEW families as a member of the Allegheny Health Network. Tomorrow my materials will be delivered to The Children’s Home and Lemieux Family Center (5324 Penn Ave Pittsburgh, PA 15224, 412-441-4884). I am honored to have this opportunity to not only continue Pediatric VIEW but to grow it in new directions. The Children’s Home Administrators are welcoming me with open arms and a degree of enthusiasm generally only seen in a teenagers on a first date. I am excited and beyond all else, grateful.
The last act of packing at my West Penn office was to disassemble the collage of items on the bulletin board next to my desk. It is sort of a sacred place for me and a constant reminder of why I do this work. Sometimes at the end of a long or hard day at Pediatric VIEW, I glance to that board and remind myself about the importance of every family seen or somehow represented in the display. So, today as I carefully removed the layers of items, I felt an overwhelming sense of sentiment. There were of course, photos. Photos of children and sometimes yearly versions of the same child. Those are so much fun to study. There are images of entire families and of children in various settings. I am endlessly curious about the lives of the children I meet and so seeing them on vacation, at grandma’s house. or P.T. fully intrigue me. Some of the photos are tenderly caressed, especially those of the children who are no longer living. These photos are a gallery of time, place and emotion.
It took me a bit longer to work my way through the artwork shared with me. Some of the pieces were completed during assessment sessions by the child with CVI or a sibling. I have a couple portraits of me that have been crafted by these young hands as well. Oh, that my body really resembled a stick. I love contemplating the colors and themes used and they are as beautiful to me as anything I have seen at The Louvre.
The reminder of the items are mostly notes. Notes from a sibling, thanking me for “being nice and not giving their sister a shot in the arm”, or, writing, “thanks for heping with Joes bision”. I have a beautiful poem written by a father who described the experience of being the dad of a child who has complex needs. And, there are various expressions of thanks by parents who appreciate being able to be heard. Of course, there are a few holiday cards and even a birthday invitation or two.
Some objects have been fixed to the board as well. A few of the tokens include indigenous items from other countries. There is a ceramic necklace from Australia, a Guinness beer magnet from folks who traveled from Ireland, tiny flags from Croatia, the United Arab Emirates, and South Africa. I have two key chains tacked up on the board too. One keychain is from New Zealand, the other is from Canada. It is like having a tiny toy store of memories.
I will take every one of these items with me to The Children’s Home. They are priceless reminders of the 31 years I have worked at West Penn Hospital. They are also priceless reminders of the privilege I have been given to be in the company of families who have taught me lessons beyond measure. The Children’s Home is 3 blocks from the office where I currently sit and within hours, will vacate. I cannot wait to see the treasures and memories that will be posted next to my desk in my new work adventures. Thank you to all of you who have supported me during this time of transition. Your letters, calls and acts of kindness to me are now my heartfelt obligation to return to you.