Handmade memento brings Island couple comfort in care facility during COVID-19

Pauline Doucette's parents recently moved into a care facility and her mother kept asking her when she'd be able to 'see Jesus again?'

'That whole moment for me was just a reminder that you know, there's always something to be grateful for'

Jean and Patrick Doucette look out the window at the papier mâché Jesus, Patrick made for his wife years ago. (Submitted by Pauline Doucette)

Outside a care facility in Summerside P.E.I., an unusual figurine peaks out near one of the trees — a papier mâché Jesus. 

It was placed there by Pauline Doucette, whose parents recently moved into Wedgewood Manor. 

The replica was made by Doucette's father Patrick a few years ago when his wife Jean was diagnosed with dementia.

"She's pretty spiritual and every time she prays she'd keep her eyes on that statue," Patrick said.

Doucette said before the COVID-19 outbreak, going to church was a regular part of her mother's routine and something they enjoyed doing together.

Due to COVID-19, churches across the province have cancelled in-person gatherings and the province has also discontinued visitations at P.E.I.'s long-term care and community care facilities.

When the couple moved into the care facility, Doucette said her mother kept asking when they would be able to go mass again. 

"With her dementia, she would call me quite often and say 'when am I going to be able to see Jesus again?'" she said.

"And I'd say, 'well mom, soon this will be over and I'll be able to pick you up and take you to church.'"

The Doucette's have been married for over 50 years. (Submitted by Pauline Doucette)

But in the meantime, Doucette said she wanted to do something to bring her mother a little reminder of home and of the comfort that going to church together used to bring her.

So. Doucette said she had an idea to bring the papier mâché statue, which stands at about 1.5 metres, to her parents. 

"I carried him up one day in the car. He had quite a ride with me."

Doucette said she then tied the Jesus to the tree, knocked on the window and told her mom to look outside. 

"She said 'Oh my God it's Jesus!'"

"Her and dad were just so excited about it. She's so happy, giving dad a big kiss."

The couple has been married for 56 years and Doucette said they're lucky to be sharing the same room in the manor. 

"First of all, there wasn't any room for dad," she said.

"By divine miracle we all say, and from mom's prayers, somehow a room became available that they could actually share," she said.

'We have to have faith that it will get better'

Doucette said her parents are soul-mates.

"You name it, they've been through all of it," she said.

"True love through bad times, good times."

'They spend most of their day looking out the window at Jesus by the tree and they say the rosary together,' says Doucette. (Submitted by Pauline Doucette)

When asked about their relationship, Patrick said the couple "get along pretty good."

"She's got a heart of gold, that's one thing. I've never, never, never seen a person so loving as her," he said.

Doucette said even though they have each other, the gesture of bringing the papier mâché Jesus to her parents was her way of providing a little more comfort during this uncertain time. 

"That whole moment for me was just a reminder that you know, there's always something to be grateful for," she said. 

"We have to have faith that it will get better." 

COVID-19: What you need to know

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

    But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

    Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.

    What should I do if I feel sick?

    Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.

    How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.

  • Practise physical distancing.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.