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Written by Frances Walmsley:
Mom’s story with Hospice began on Dec. 12th, 2002. She arrived consumed by pain and fear. Within a short time she had settled in and over what became a two-month stay she went from tolerating to loving everything about the facility, the wonderful staff and the Hospice philosophy.
Watching Mom’s transition was both fascinating and a huge relief. Once her medical needs were being met she energized and really started to maximize each and every moment. She loved to sit in the family room in front of the fire and she spent many of her hours there entertaining us all.
She regained her interest in knitting and had everyone searching for a particular afghan pattern. The search was successful and this afghan can now be completed and will be donated to the house as was her wish. This galvanized the staff to share their projects with her. Mom loved being part of the action even though her ability to knit was gone.
Although Mom was a very private person she learned to share herself and her family with the other residents and their families. She was thrilled when someone stabilized and was able to return home and was very accepting when others had their “light lit” (note: a light is kept lit for 24 hours in Hospice House each time one of the residents passes away). Mom came to enjoy more in her last two months than she had in the previous year.
Mom was a smoker and thoroughly enjoyed her time in the beautiful garden taking in the “fresh air” as she called it and she relished the talks with those who took the time to sit with her there. Hospice House treated Mom like royalty and we even have the crown to prove it!
Mom also loved that I was encouraged to cook and that on those occasions staff and residents joined us. Our extended family meals generated great energy and laughter.
Although the reason for Mom being at Hospice House never changed, certainly her focus did, and that is more precious to our family than any of the other many gifts we received while there. Hospice House encouraged Mom to celebrate who she was and she did, right up to the lighting of her light.
Mom died peacefully at 2pm Feb. 15th, ending her long battle with cancer, supported by my sister and I, and by two off-duty staff who had come in “just to see how things were going”.
The kindness, compassion, understanding, love, healing, support and friendship that we take away with us will remain in our hearts forever.
Note: Geneva Mathison talked about her Hospice House experience in an interview Jan. 27:
“This is not necessarily a sad place. It’s a place to finish one’s life without pressure. This is the happiest group of workers I have ever met,” she said.
“It’s just a bunch of nice people. It’s a party today (there were guests for lunch). I’m just waiting it out and when the time comes, I’ll have all the support that is available.”
“I like the idea of the lunch group (a grief support group) coming in, It’s great to involve the community which is sorely needed. If the community is not involved, the house is going to go and it won’t be there for them when the time comes.”
“The people who come here now are the lucky ones. If we lose this, we’ve lost something very very precious. I meet people here that I would never have met any other way and I enjoy meeting people.”
“People who visit here are just astonished at this place. They’ve never taken the time to look into it. I have absolutely nothing but good to say about this place. The service is unsurpassed.”