Erica’s story is a life, not without ‘Parrill’

“I’ve never given up on anything in my life and I’m not going to start now.”

Over the course of her life, Erica Parrill has proven that she has the spirit to face the odds. Orphaned in the chaos of WWII Germany, Erica made her way to Canada and immediately embarked on a life that is testimony to her belief in her fellow man. She flourished in her volunteer work with people ranging from prisoners to abandoned and abused children. In fact, it was while working with Children’s Aid that she met her husband of 30 years, Gary. Their common interests in art, music, ballet, opera, travel and doing all they could for young people was the foundation for a marriage that is still going strong.

Erica is a beautiful woman whose flawless complexion and high cheekbones belie her age. Her original artwork graces her home. The striking portraits and landscapes suggest her passionate inner vision. But her true beauty is in her thoughtful and spiritual nature. Her philosophy has been to rely on God and to have the wisdom to accept what she cannot change and the energy and intelligence to wholeheartedly tackle what she can.

Always a strong woman of action, she was shaken by the havoc wreaked on her body seven years ago by a bypass and subsequent kidney failure. After a lifetime of being the “fixer,” she became the one in need of help. And when she began to lose her vision and mobility, the need became even greater.

How could a woman so dedicated to the visual arts, piano playing and community service be confined to a wheelchair, constrained by tri-weekly dialysis, and denied the sight necessary to communicate her artistic vision? But something rushed in to fill the void; in her case, quite fittingly, it was people. “Many, many, really good friends” have been there for her every day in every way. One of these friends heard about The Dorothy Ley Hospice and realized that Erica and her family would benefit from this support.

In the summer of 2002 The Dorothy Ley Hospice came knocking on Erica’s door. Like so many people, Erica did not know who these folks were. Yet after only a few months, she now wonders how she ever got along without them.

With her daughter thousands of miles away in Columbia and her husband working, the Hospice volunteers have helped to organize and simplify her life. Lisa offers manicures and learned to play the stereo so Erica could listen to her favourite music. Audrey searches out the special German meat Erica loves. Jeanne provides Erica with soothing therapeutic touch and reads aloud to her. Karen keeps her company during dialysis and visits on weekends. Ludmila entertains Erica with stories of her studies and serves as Erica’s pupil in her own quest to conquer the English language. Marita enlisted a wheel-trans for trips to the hospital for dialysis and accompanied Erica on her first, nervous journey. Newcomer Arlene has recently started visits.