Grandma's girls

May 17, 2017
Grandma Brenda is supporting her twin granddaughters at RMHC Toronto
Lillian and Elizabeth Boyd

Brenda Lariviere believes that Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto provides “the biggest support you can get” for a family with a seriously ill child. She knows this all too well: two of Brenda’s children have stayed at the House with their families over the past five years.

Brenda is staying at the House herself right now while her new granddaughter, Lillian, is treated at The Hospital for Sick Children. Lillian and her twin sister, Elizabeth, were born prematurely on March 17. Lillian’s bowels and liver developed outside of her body inside the umbilical cord, requiring care in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Her parents, Amber and Joshua Boyd, relocated to RMHC Toronto from their home in Lively, Ont., just west of Sudbury. Joshua goes back and forth for work, and Grandma Brenda stays at the House with Amber and Elizabeth when he goes home.

Brenda holding Lillian at the hospital

“Being away from home is hard, but being here makes a world of difference,” says Brenda. “When my other daughter stayed here five years ago, she said it was the best thing they could’ve asked for.”

Brenda spends most nights at the hospital with Lillian, allowing Amber to return to the House for a good night’s rest with Elizabeth. It can be overwhelming to spend hours on end in a hospital, says Brenda, so the House is a welcome respite.

“It keeps you calm to have a place to go for a warm meal and a good sleep,” says Brenda.

She and her family are feeling very positive about Lillian’s progress: she’s been moved out of the NICU to another unit now and is starting to properly eat. They also look to Lillian’s cousin, Duncan Tario, for inspiration. Five years after his own hospitalization in Toronto, Duncan has recovered well from a brain tumour.

As they wait for Lillian to be released so they can return to Lively, Brenda and her family are grateful to have a “home away from home” at RMHC Toronto.

“Whenever we leave the hospital, we say we’re ‘going home’ because that’s what it feels like. RMHC Toronto feels like home.”

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