Originally published by NewmarketToday on December 28, 2021. Written by Michele Weisz.
NewmarketToday continues its annual tradition of marking the giving season by celebrating Newmarket’s Community Angels — the people whose kindness, compassion and community spirit help make our town one of the best to live in the country.
When you hear the gentle, whispery tone of Marg Wiseman’s voice, you just know the great-grandmother of seven (with another due to arrive any day) has got to be the kind of person who has concern for others, and she is.
Every day from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wiseman spends time with her 94-year-old mother at a nursing home.
Wiseman’s mother is confined to a wheelchair and doesn’t speak. She doesn’t have a very good quality of life, according to Wiseman, but she visits every day because she doesn’t want her mother to be alone.
It’s this same sense of compassion and caring that Wiseman brings to her position as a volunteer at Margaret Bahen Hospice.
Wiseman began volunteering at the hospice two years ago. Ever conscious of her mother’s health, Wiseman has great confidence in the strict COVID-19 safety measures at the hospice and continued to volunteer throughout the pandemic.
“During the pandemic she was one of a group of volunteers that continued to volunteer consistently and to us that makes her really special,” said Ann Boden, coordinator of volunteer services.
Because of her own experience caring for her mother, Wiseman can empathize with the families of the patients at the hospice and helping them allows her to give back in some way, she said.
“I wanted to be able to give of myself . . . I feel I could somewhat have the same feeling because of my mum . . . and I just feel I could have some compassion for the people who are coming in to see their loved ones.”
Most volunteers work a shift or two a week but according to Boden, Wiseman works up to four shifts a week and is happy to fill in for others at the last minute.
In addition to her work at the reception desk, Marg folds laundry, loads the dishwasher and helps in any way she can.
“Our staff all think she’s wonderful . . . She does so much and I always know Marg will do it but I’ll look at what’s happening on the schedule and go ‘Marg’s doing a lot this week, let’s see who else can do it.’ We really appreciate all of it but we’re also really respectful of her time,” said Boden.
It’s at reception where Wiseman gets to interact with families the most. Hers is the first face they see when they arrive and the last as they leave.
“Sometimes they’re upset, sometimes it’s too much for them. Just being able to talk to them, I feel I know some of what they’re going through,” she said.
“As much as she gives of her time, she also gives of herself and that’s what makes Marg special,” said Boden.
Wiseman benefits from her volunteer work just as much as those she helps. Interacting with the families and witnessing their bravery as they deal with grief has helped her to better deal with her own situation with her mother, she said.
“Being a volunteer there, you get to see so many people in different circumstances. It’s a big learning experience, just the way that some people are able to handle the situation. They are sometimes so strong it gives me strength to be with my mum.”
Working at a hospice may seem like it would be too heavy a burden to take on but Wiseman doesn’t it see it that way.
In a hospital families never know if their loved one will pull through and go home, she said, but the families who come to the hospice know the outcome and witnessing their acceptance and strength inspires Wiseman.
“I look at the positive. When a client comes in, I know what’s going to happen. I just know that family’s going to be there, they’ll all be together, it’s going to be so wonderful they’re all together. They’re on that journey with them (the patient) till the end . . . it’s just, they’re so strong knowing what’s going to come.”
There are times when a patient leaves the hospice and according to Wiseman those rare occasions are indescribable.
“Seeing someone come in there on their last journey and then to see them go out of the doors again… it’s almost like a miracle. You can’t explain it unless you see it . . . it’s really quite the experience to see that happen. ”
In addition to her work at the hospice, she volunteered to spend the week before the holidays wrapping presents at her mother’s nursing home.
Wiseman decided to take Christmas day off to spend the holiday with her mother, Facetime with her grandchildren and great grandchildren and take a well-deserved break but after that, it’s back to the work she calls “humbling” and to the staff she calls “wonderful.”
“I can’t say enough about them, they’re a special breed of people.”
The staff definitely feels the same way about her.