By Carrie O’Neill — Resident Relations Coordinator, Heaton Place
You never know where your life path will take you, but if you are open and willing to step into the unknown, life will deliver amazing experiences. Allan and Michaela Husband said ‘yes’ to a career opportunity that allowed them to travel across the world. From Victoria, to Afghanistan and everything in between, the Husbands tell a small part of their life journey with Carrie O’Neill, Resident Relations Coordinator at Heaton Place in Armstrong, B.C.
Good looks and a fine dancer was all it took for Michaela Ciceri to notice Allan Husband. Back in the late 40s at Victoria High School, dances were a hot commodity. Once a year they would hold a ‘Ladies Choice Dance’, where the gals would invite the guys. This was Michaela’s opportunity to invite the fella she had been admiring. Dancing was something that they both loved; together they were a fine team of dancers. The love bug would bite, and they began their courtship.
After graduating, they would both land jobs at the parliament buildings in Victoria. Michaela took her training as a secretary with Sprott Shaw and put her skills to work throughout her life. Allan worked for BC Hydro for a number of years which would allow them to experience some travelling adventures, and retired while working as the Prince George General Hospital administrator, now called the University Hospital of Northern BC.
After getting married on Oct. 11, 1952, the couple decided it was time to enlarge their family unit and welcome their son, Bob, and daughter Wendy into the world. Life would get busy with Michaela raising kids, and Allan working his way up the ladder within the company of BC Hydro. Much to their surprise, the day came that Allan was offered a transfer to Kabul, Afghanistan by BC Hydro and the Canadian International Development Program. Michaela was busy working as the school secretary for Highland Park Elementary when she received a phone call from Allan. With a smile on her face, she tells the story. “All I heard on the other end of the phone was Allan’s voice cautiously asking how I would feel about moving to Afghanistan. I was surprised, but not against the idea,” says Michaela. By this time, the kids were grown and in university, so the decision was made to head out on a new adventure. “The expedition to arrive in Afghanistan was a journey in and of itself! We decided to turn down the first class option and take in some other attractions along the way; it was a heck of an adventure!” said Allan.
In the autumn of 1976, they landed in Kabul where they were met by some locals who escorted them to their home base which was set up by BC Hydro. “We were quite spoiled as we were offered help for our home. Two wonderful men by the name of Gholam and Abdul helped with the day-to-day cooking and cleaning, something that we were not used to,” says Michaela. The Husbands were in Kabul for a two-year span and in those two years, they learned some of the Afghan ways. It took some adjusting and a lot of observing and listening to learn the culture, but they would eventually become comfortable with daily living in Kabul. Having said that, driving in Afghanistan is not for the faint hearted! During their time residing in Kabul, both of their adult children had an opportunity to visit and explore the country.
Towards the end of the two-year term in Afghanistan, they experienced a seizure and overturn of government which brought on a hostile retaliation. This resulted in gunfire and became quite a fearful time for the Husbands, however, they were fortunate to have American friends who helped keep them safe until they could get on a plane and head back to Canada.
Upon their arrival back to Canada, it would soon be revealed that BC Hydro did not have a job that aligned with the experience Allan had accumulated within the company, and so after some time, he decided to resign. Meanwhile, Allan sat on the Board of Directors for the Prince George Regional Hospital and was about to be offered a new profession. In a weird and unusual way, he would be selected to fulfill the role of assistant administrator of the hospital which would then lead him into becoming the executive director. During the 10 years working in the hospital industry, Michaela would spend some time working for Corrections which was something completely different than what she was used to in the schools.
The hard-working couple enjoyed their working careers and on the side, they would enjoy their own personal hobbies as well as their lovely grandchildren. Allan was a singer and performed in various choirs, while Michaela enjoyed working in the gardens and tending to their home.
Allan retired in 1991 and the couple would land themselves a bed and breakfast in Swansea Point, between Sicamous and Salmon Arm. They enjoyed hosting mostly European travellers for periods of time and would eventually sell the home and buy in Armstrong, B.C. In 2019, they decided it was time to move into a retirement community. Carrie O’Neill would spend some time with the couple visiting and helping them to transition from their home to Heaton Place Retirement Residence. They settled into a lovely two-bedroom suite where they now enjoy the comforts of home without the work that goes along with owning your home.
“We have enjoyed watching Allan and Michaela settle in and participate in some of our activities, primarily the happy hours where you will observe this lovely couple singing along with our entertainers. We are lucky to have them,” said O’Neill.
Sharing stories is powerful medicine; it can be healing and liberating. The journey taken of gathering, sharing, and listening has been more valuable than words. “As I sat with Michaela going through photos of their time in Afghanistan, I could feel a beautiful energy of reconnection to past memories,” says O’Neill.
We are very lucky to have this wonderful couple call Heaton Place home.