Gail Stanley, photographed at Orchard View in Manotick.
Through our work as corporate/commercial photographers, we sometimes come across people who, in a soft and quiet way, leave us with a smile on our faces and a good feeling in our hearts. This is the case of Gail Stanley, who we met on a recent photo shoot at Orchard View on the Rideau, an assisted living and retirement residence in Manotick.
Gail has cerebral palsy. Despite her physical challenges and an important life change – she had to leave her family home when her dad passed away recently – she has a great disposition and a lovely and positive attitude. At age 65, she is the youngest resident of Orchard View and is lovingly called “the kid” by her close friends. We loved photographing her and captivating her kind cheerfulness.
Originally from Miramichi, New Brunswick, Gail grew up in the west end of Ottawa. She has fond memories of it, as well as the years spent living with her dad, who she was very close to, in the Riverside area. When faced with the task of having to live independently, she had a hard time of it, but embraced change courageously and slowly adapted. She has become one of Orchard View’s most charismatic residents, with her contagious smile and sharp wit.
When asked about her favourite pastimes, Gail points to her three good friends Edith, Dorothy and Len, who are sitting close by playing Scrabble, and replies “I enjoy Scrabble. They got me liking it!” while Edith happily chirps in that “Gail is wonderful with mind games – you know, trivia and things like that!” Edith is her closest friend and speaks of her love of music and how, when somebody plays the piano, she dances and twirls around, despite the wheelchair. Gail also loves her exercise routine, sitting outside in the garden, observing people come and go (“even if they don’t talk to me”) and her day group outings. She also underlines the importance of having her downtime, watching shows in her room and reading.
When her sisters and family come to Ottawa, Gail loves going downtown to the Byward Market for a meal and the opportunity to see all types of people. She also enjoys visits with her cousins to the family-run Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm. This is what she most loves about our city.
Chatting with Gail, one gets the feeling that happiness is found in the simplest of things, in spite of challenges and that it only really comes down to attitude. As we prepare to leave, Gail shyly asks about the photo and wonders if it looks fine. It looks beautiful, don’t you agree?