Lisa Teresa Gasparin (Lisa) is the only child to Norberto Jose Lourenco (Norbert) and Jane Watt who immigrated to Toronto from Lisbon, Portugal and Glasgow, Scotland, respectively during the 1960s. Lisa says her parents had a sense of humour when they named her after Lisa Douglas who was the leading female character (played by Zsa Zsa Gabor) in the 1960s situation comedy Green Acres.
Lisa is so proud of her parents and all that they had accomplished. Norbert helped to build the city by working on the subway, water and sewer infrastructure and the 401 highway. Jane worked for CIBC and enjoyed a long, successful career in finance. They married in the chapel at St. Michael’s Cathedral and spent more than four decades together.
Her mother Jane was at home when she suffered a fall. The injury eventually resulted in her admission to St. Michael’s Hospital. Cancer was subsequently diagnosed and Jane was moved to our palliative care unit where she passed peacefully at age 80 in 2010. It was during this time that St. Michael’s became a sort of second home to Lisa. “That care team taught me a lot about life and death. While my mother was in palliative I would stay all night at the hospital and they would let me sit at the nurse’s station and we would just talk. The nurses continued to stay in touch with me after her passing and one nurse mentioned how she liked my smile. I’ll never forget that,” expressed Lisa.
When dad became ill he insisted on being treated at St. Michael’s, even though he could have gone to other, closer hospitals. — Lisa Gasperin
Shortly after her mother’s passing, Norbert was diagnosed with bladder cancer. In the advanced stages, his physician was Dr. Jason Lee, a urologist at St. Michael’s Hospital. “When dad became ill he insisted on being treated at St. Michael’s, even though he could have gone to other, closer hospitals. He took a cab instead of calling 911 when his symptoms were especially acute because he knew an ambulance would have taken him someplace else. Dad just wouldn’t go to any other hospital – being back downtown just meant that much to him,” remembers Lisa.
Over several months, Dr. Lee and his team administered various treatments including surgery until it became apparent Norbert’s cancer was terminal. He asked his daughter Lisa to see if it would be possible for him to spend his final days in our palliative care unit – where his wife had spent time six years before. This was arranged and he was able to pass peacefully at age 87 in 2016.
When Lisa speaks about her parents, one immediately sees how much she admired and loved them. Over the years – and especially when their health was failing she made it her mission to make sure they were always cared for. “Something occurred to me the other day when I saw sod growing over dad’s resting place. I realized it’s not only them at peace – it’s me. I take comfort in knowing mom and dad received good care and that my dad was able to spend his final days surrounded by his memories of mom,” said Lisa.
It is because of her love for her parents and recognition of the good care they each received at St. Michael’s Hospital that Lisa has decided to make a bequest to the Foundation in her will.
If you’re interested in hearing more about planning a gift in your will to St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation, please contact Sandra Smith, Philanthropy Officer, Gift Planning, 416-864-6060 ext. 2044 or SmithSan@smh.ca.