Tapestry is proud to launch a new web story series, “Lessons in Resiliency”, featuring resident stories of hope and inspiration. We know many of our residents live extraordinary lives and have experiences to share that can inspire strength and resiliency as we navigate the unprecedented experience of living through a global pandemic. We will also share stories of resiliency from our employees, the tireless workers that continue to create an exceptional community experience for our valued residents.
A Prairie Can-do Attitude Underpins a Life Well Lived
When asked how she is doing during the uncertain COVID-19 situation, Jean Badun thinks for a minute and smiles. “I’m doing well,” says the lovely Arbutus Walk resident, who almost sparkles when she speaks. “ I am keeping busy, reading, knitting, connecting with people over the phone and even zoom conferencing. This is the way life is right now so what choice do we have?”
Jean’s ability to take the current situation in stride and to simply get on with life is no surprise. Born and raised in Saskatchewan, her life is a story book of experiences that have shaped her common sense approach to accept what comes, make the best of each circumstance in the present moment and keep moving forward in the hope of a brighter tomorrow.
In 1939, Jean was nine years old and World War Two had just broken out in Europe. Her brother, who was seven years old, developed scarlet fever, a bacterial illness with potentially severe implications. His case was the only one in the population of 35,000 people who lived in Saskatoon at the time. Her tranquil, Prairie life was quickly changed with her beloved brother’s illness and the cloud of a global conflict threatening the Canadian way of life.
Of course, they couldn’t attend school and Jean’s family quickly became isolated from society to prevent any spread of the disease. As her father worked outside the home, it was necessary he move out and live elsewhere to prevent contamination. Jean remembers missing him dearly but being comforted by her mother and grandmother.
“My brother was very, very ill with high fever,” says Jean, thinking back on that life-changing experience. “He was having hallucinations and wearing dark glasses – something he needed to do even in his adult years.” To pass the time and encourage her brother, Jean recalls reading stories to him, playing games, keeping him entertained and doing her best to be positive.
A bright light during this time was Jean’s father, who would leave a book every day for her to read. “I read it as quickly as possible so I could get a new book the next day,” says Jean, who remains to this day a voracious reader and lover of all kinds of books.
Jean clearly remembers that when they received their weekly milk delivery, they were not able to reuse the bottles for fear of contamination. After Christmas, the tree had to be burned along with all of the decorations – many of them precious family heirlooms. After a month of living under these extreme circumstances, life started to return to normal and her brother’s health stabilized.
Walter, Jean’s husband, emigrated with his family from Poland, looking for a better life and it went well for them. He graduated from the University of Alberta and shortly after they married. “I had a wonderful relationship with my mother-in-law. I couldn’t speak Polish and my mother-in-law couldn’t speak English! Life continued on its merry way, we learned to pinch pennies and enjoy a modest way of life to make life a little more interesting! We were fortunate to build a happy life for us and our growing family!”
In 1997, Walter had a stroke and shortly after, Jean was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. She underwent surgery and radiation and believes she has remained cancer-free for 23 years because of her ability to remain calm and positive through adversity.
Jean is thankful for her upbringing, her great marriage to Walter and the gift of her five wonderful children. A true survivor and optimist, Jean feels blessed to have 14 successful, educated and delightful grandchildren, who have no doubt taken her common sense approach to life to heart!
“If it is out of our control, what else can we do,” says Jean, matter-of-factly. “Life goes on and you just have to find a way to keep moving”.