International Friendship Day: An ESS Story

In celebration of Friendship Day, we are sharing a story of Olga and Helena, two friends whose relationship began at ESS. Here is their story as told by them…


TRUE FRIENDSHIP written by O.M. Thompson and H. Ord

Olga and Helena met several years ago at our Seniors’ Lunch Program and became fast friends who have formed a solid friendship and unique bonding over shared experiences.

Both are widowed and have one child, a daughter.  Though they grew up in different countries – Helena was born in Czechoslovakia and Olga in The Netherlands, then called Holland – both experienced the same times and world events including WWII. Helena’s family faced many hardships and worked hard to build a future in a new country.  Olga’s father spent time in a concentration camp.  Despite the time and health lost from suffering forced labour and deprivation of human dignity, their family life became harmonious again upon his return.

Since meeting, Olga and Helena have created many shared memories. They actively spend time together doing things that bring them joy, such as going for long walks, attending events, traveling and exploring what the city has to offer.  Together, they have taken trips to Ottawa, toured tall ships, art galleries and museums.  They’ve dined out to experience various cuisines like Polish crepes, Japanese Hibachi, afternoon tea at the Old Mill, and watched a belly dancing performance over Moroccan and Tunisian food.

Olga and Helena have many common interests and often wonder whether they were not meant to be sisters!  Both are lovers of animals, nature, and are hopeless movie addicts who cry and laugh at the same scenes, sharing an exact same sense of humor and empathy.  They also admire art and unique styles of architecture and exploring historical and cultural mural and graffiti art in the city. They appreciate its thought-provoking effects and that each area of our city shows its own, very distinctive art which tells a story about the people living in the immediate neighborhoods.

“It’s things in common that make relationships enjoyable but it’s the little differences that make them interesting”, by Todd Ruthman.

Olga and Helena’s differences complement one another and offer balance. It’s said that opposites attract, and they always seem to find a harmonious middle way.

They share a gift of interior decorating and interest in creating beauty and comfort with the right choice of décor, furniture and colour schemes.  Helena practices flawless minimalism, whereas Olga is a collector especially of artwork, paintings, Inuit depictions on plates, and decorative pieces from different parts of the world.

Olga admires Helena’s mental discipline and will power contrary to her own impulsive nature. And Helena, being a well-grounded realist, knows how to steady her hopelessly romantic friend. Olga is rather careful by nature adhering to the principle of ‘prepare for the worst, but hope for the best’, whereas Helena believes in expecting the best, but having a plan.  Helena is the planner and organizer, who handles the bookings and planning of their many outings and activities.

Despite their different natures, they are always there for each other especially when one is in pain or feeling down.  They maintain mutual respect thriving on warmth, sensitivity, energy, support and looking out for one another.

Thank you to Olga and Helena for sharing your story with us.


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