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60/20 Tour: Slaughterhouse Al

Bridges by EPOCH at Andover

Our next stop on the tour is Andover, MA  and one of our favorite customers, EPOCH.  Joanna Cormac-Burt, COO at EPOCH, is a long-time friend. She believed in what we were up to 15 years ago and has wound up in an organization that is a perfect fit for her.  Unfortunately, she was on vacation so could not participate. But that meant I didn’t have to hear about the dominance of Boston based sports teams. She can go on and on and on. Joanna, you know this is all in fun.

EPOCH has a lot of cool communities to choose from, and we wound up at the Bridges at Andover.  Olivia Evans, their rec therapist,  coordinated a great day for us. She also shared her own heartwarming story of just walking in to interview as the building opened. She had handpicked Al as our cruiser and crooner, and what a home run he turned out to be.  As anyone knows who might be reading these posts,  I love when crooners are folks living with dementia. They are reframing my own perspective of the disease every day,  and I hope the video clips working their way into cyberland are having the same impact on others.

We started rolling around Andover with Al,  Olivia and Beth Vellante, great, a passionate ED.  (Joanna always hires great people!!!) It was hilarious. I started in my usual fashion, trying to draw out whoever is in the front seat,  so my open-ended questions to Al start heading into their own directions.  He is ALL about his days working in a slaughterhouse, including graphic stories of not so pleasant work, but clearly a huge part of his identity.  Olivia kept trying to steer the conversation to Al’s prolific artistry,  but he keeps going back to squealing piggies – yikes!  There were a lot of funny exchanges.  And every time I asked a question to Olivia or Beth about EPOCH,  “Slaughterhouse Al” (my invented nickname!) would answer for them,  usually without any context of what my question was.  I was reminded of my time in the van last week with Teepa Snow,  and her “who cares” mentality. Why are we so obsessed with getting people back to our version of “normal”? Something to think about and just roll with, truly.

As the trip winds down, I get a chance to see some of his artwork – it is brilliant. Al is a soulful man with a heart of gold. It emanates from his spirit as he talks…and laughs, and laughs. We all have depth; we all have stories. What a treasure it is for me to be able to tap into so many of these remarkable men and women along this journey.

Thanks, Olivia! You nailed it. And let me know if you want me to look up any local slaughterhouses for you; Al could give us a tour!

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