2020 Team 4 - Team Matthew

 Matthew Geremia was a Sinatra fan. And though his parents and younger brothers kept him happy and smiling, it was Ol’ Blue Eyes that could always put Matthew at ease.

Born at 27 weeks, and diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a life of ease was not in the cards for Matthew. But he was lucky enough to be raised by loving and attentive parents, Marlene and Bruno, who filled the Geremia house with more than just music.

 “We always understood the value of home,” says Marlene Geremia.

“We both grew up in caring, happy environments in which the whole family enjoyed being together. When we decided to have children, we wanted to lay that same foundation.”

 And while Matthew’s diagnosis demanded considerably more attention than in other homes, it also underscored the importance and impact of unconditional support.

“We tried our best to keep the mood light and positive,” says Bruno.

 “But it was the sense of trust and teamwork in the house that made for a lot of happy memories for Matthew and our twins, Alexander and Daniel. I believe that the love and care that we all shared helped Matthew to live much longer than expected.”

 Matthew was well into his teenage years when his health began to worsen significantly. And though he was always non-verbal, there was no question in the mind of the Geremias that Matthew would want to spend his final days in the comfort of home.

 After a prolonged stay at Sick Kids Hospital, accommodations were made to bring Matthew home, to live out his life according to plan. But with the tumult of nursing staff and medical equipment that were needed to keep Matthew comfortable, the Geremia house no longer felt like home.

 It was suggested to Bruno and Marlene that they take a tour through Emily’s House.  “That feeling of home hits you almost immediately upon entering Emily’s House. Big windows flood the space with light, and a turn to the right leads you into a huge, collective kitchen space. The kitchen is the social hub of the House and the scene of boisterous meals, family gab sessions and epic parties.

 “The minute we walked into Emily’s House, I felt a sense of ease,” says Marlene. “It just felt like home. I was still nervous to see how Matthew would respond upon his arrival. But when we saw what the staff had done to decorate Matthew’s room, I felt like I was going to melt …”

 One of the nurses had hung a musical mobile above Matthew’s bed, and the incredible staff and volunteers had decorated the walls with posters of Frank Sinatra. So, Matthew was at ease from the very first moment. With its Sinatra posters and Blue Jays memorabilia, twin brothers, Alexander and Daniel, loved to hang out in Matthew Geremia’s big, bright room at Emily’s House. For over seven months, Emily’s House provided care for Matthew and a quality of life that he wouldn’t have found elsewhere.

 “Our twin boys loved being down at Emily’s House with Matthew,” says Bruno.  “And we were able to do things as a family that we would never have been able to do elsewhere. From epic Halloween and New Year’s Eve parties, when we kept Matthew up past midnight, to a ‘Fedora’ party, where everyone wore fedoras in honour of Frank Sinatra.

“We felt like a family … when we most needed to feel like a family.”

 
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