He sat back, exhausted. “I am so worried about where we go from here. I am so worried for how my wife will do without me. We get 70 or 80 years here,” he said, looking at me, “But I know I’ve got an eternity left in Heaven.” He went on to share that he is worried about money, his children and his home. Norfolk General is a bucolic terra firma for faith, fellowship and farming. The idea of an eternity in Heaven crosses cultural divides between the Mexican and Jamaican migrant farmers, the farming families of European descent, the Mennonites and the First Nations. Of course we face the same economic and social challenges as the rest of rural Ontario but it seems these challenges are weathered with stirring self-reliance and closeness.
I am technically an outsider. I am not a woman of faith. I am from the country too, but a different kind, farther north. My Low German is about as good as my Mohawk and my Spanish, which is to say non-existent. I don’t know anything about farming. But despite all of that, each of these communities has made space for me through my role as a provider of care. When I drive to work every morning, I drive through the Norfolk County hamlets, villages and fields, past the side roads, around the tractors and other slow, wide loads, to a new kind of home. Each one of my patients asks me if I think I could stay.