Faces in the Crowd – The Caretakers

Posted on August 11, 2016 under Faces in the Crowd with no comments yet

Aaron and Marianna

 

“We have a passion and respect for the earth. We have always cared about the welfare of animals. We are caretakers.”

Meet Marianna van de Lagemaat and Aaron Padolsky.

At the age of two, Marianna and her family moved to Canada, arriving at Pier 21 in Halifax. Her parents met at a labour camp in Ukraine during the war. They moved to the Ottawa Valley where her father farmed and her mother eventually ended up teaching at Carleton University. After completing high school, Marianna moved on to Carleton to study languages.

Aaron was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba where he spent his childhood before moving to Ottawa to study Philosophy at Carleton.

They took a school sponsored bus trip to New York City in March of 1968 to visit art museums. They attended the St. Patrick’s Day parade and one of the politicians riding in the motorcade that day was Presidential hopeful Bobby Kennedy, who would be assassinated three months later in California. Aaron and Marianna struck up a friendship that has endured for nearly 50 years.

They went their separate ways after university but kept in touch. They reconnected in 1985 after the death of Marianna’s first husband. Over time Aaron became dad to Marianna’s two children. He had spent some time during the intervening years living in Nova Scotia and in 1986 the couple decided to make the move east. They spent five years in Port Bickerton before moving on to Country Harbor where they lived for the next 24 years. Antigonish was a frequent stopping place during those years.

They both had farming in their blood so it was not surprising that they acquired 2.5 acres of land and started raising animals … and caring for them. Marianna loved animals and besides tending to her own, she also boarded others, including a pregnant cow!

Aaron was well-known in the area for being the organist for both the United and Anglican churches in many communities.

When Marianna’s mother’s heath failed, they built a granny flat and she moved in with them. The onset of dementia was the impetus for Marianna and Aaron to start the Dementia Care Givers Support Group, operating under the auspices of the Alzheimer’s Society. When Marianna’s mom ended up as a resident of the R.K. Nursing Home, the couple moved to Antigonish.

As Aaron and Marianna prepare to relocate, friends and colleagues speak highly and fondly of them.  The organizations to which they loaned their time and energy are far too numerous to list, but it is certain that all of these groups will miss them terribly.   “They are truly remarkable people. It’s humbling to see such generosity; the amount of time, patience and genuine love for animals in need was inspirational,” says a member of the local SPCA.

Marianna and Aaron have become fixtures at the Antigonish Art Fair, generously donating their time and talents with a crowd-pleasing clown act. According to a member of the organizing committee for the Fair, “Arpo and his fellow clowns regularly show up to perform, most times unannounced. Audience participation is their hallmark. They have a tremendous rapport with children and adults alike.”

The long, harsh east coast winters and the call of family are taking them to B.C. where they will take up residence on Vancouver Island.

Margaret Mead, who studied many communities around the world, used to say that each was composed of residents and citizens. Residents were those who simply lived there, taking every advantage, while citizens were those who made the community work. A friend commented that “Aaron and Marianna are citizens in the best sense of the word. They will be missed. On the other hand, another community will soon benefit from their citizenship.”

“We would love to be able to take Antigonish with us… except the winters! We made so many connections and friendships during our time here.”

Our community is a better place because of these kind and gentle people. They leave behind many friends and fans who will miss them dearly… especially their four legged friends!

“All the world loves a clown” – Cole Porter

 

Arpo the Clown

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