Date: Tuesday, December 5, 2023 Time: 7:00pm - 8:30pm Location: North Okanagan Hospice Society, 3506 27th Avenue, Vernon, BC Grief doesn’t...
Ruby Scott was settling down on the hide-a-bed in the room at Hospice House when she heard her husband, Bob, call out softly to her from his big bed. “I want to sleep with you.” “He crawled down into the bed with me and we held each other,” she said. It was the night of their 35th anniversary, April 30, and Bob had decided earlier that day to come to the Hospice House. He had been diagnosed with cancer March 15, 2006 and died May 19, 2006.
When he was first diagnosed he said, “When the time comes for me I want to be in the Hospice House.” Originally he was admitted to get his pain under control however his illness progressed much quicker than expected and he never left. Eventually, Bob was too weak to come to me and I would lie on his bed with him. The day before coming to the Hospice House I had been giving Bob pain meds every hour. Once there, I no longer had to worry about his pain level or his medical care. It was all taken care of, and we could just spend time together. He asked that I not be angry with him for leaving me this way.
“Our two children were there and we were even able to bring in his dog for his final goodbye. We spent time together as a family. Everything was done to make us comfortable. I was so grateful for that, and still am.”
It was not the first time Ruby had had a loved one in a hospice. She has lost seven family members in the past 11 years, including two in hospices in other cities and three in Hospice House in Vernon.
Bob’s father, Wilf Scott, died in Hospice House in the fall of 2002. “He brought it up to us and he and Grandma (his wife, Fay Scott) toured prior to his asking to go in. We didn’t know much about hospice at that time. It wasn’t until he was a resident that I realized how nice a place it was. He was given whatever he needed, kept comfortable and his pain was controlled. It had been very exhausting for Grandma looking after him when he was home.” said Ruby.
She was pleased that Bob and his brother, who both worked shift work at Riverside Forest Products, were able to go in to visit their father throughout the day and night, for Bob that was at 1 AM before his shift started and again at 11 AM when his shift finished, and they would have lunch together. Grandma stayed for the duration of his stay at Hospice House. “The staff and volunteers were so accommodating and willing to talk to us at any time, or just listen while we rambled on. It was a very homey, friendly place.
Ruby said “I have been there for each of their last breaths.” Ruby also feels that Hospice House is there when you need them. Ruby also had a comment for people other than family members or very close friends visiting in Hospice House. There came a time when Bob said ‘That’s all the company I want.’ For every person that comes to say goodbye for the last time, that was just one goodbye for them, but for him it was a lot of goodbyes for the last time and it was exhausting. Ruby felt that the sooner people were able to say their goodbyes the better so that the family and very close friends could have the time near the end.
Bob’s mother had been living with them since her husband’s death and she and Ruby supported each other after Bob’s death, traveling together, attending hockey games, and generally keeping each other company.
Last spring Grandma had her last surgery, which went well, but, it seemed that she had lost her will to live, and her heart was failing her. She said ‘there are more people on the other side than on this side,’ and she asked to be moved from the hospital to the Hospice House. When she arrived the first thing that they did was give her a bath and wash her hair. She felt so much better; she said ‘ My friends can come and see me now.’ She was there only four days and for her it was the right thing to see her friends to say goodbye, but it has to be an individual choice. She also had a chance to see her dog, Missy, again and to be reassured that I would take care of her. Grandma’s surviving son was able to spend the last day with her, and all of her grandchildren had been in touch with her shortly before her death.
Some of the staff and volunteers had been at the Hospice House for Wilf and Bob as well and they recognized our family. “It was good to have them there .” Even as Ruby grieves, she has positive memories of Hospice House and she is volunteering there to help give others the same care and support that her family received. “I have talked to a lot of people about our experiences. Most people have no idea how beautiful Hospice House is. Even the design, from the low windows so the residents can look out on the gardens from their beds, to the wide doors so that they can be moved to the gardens if they choose, and even to the beds for the family members to stay around the clock, is all for the residents comfort. It meant a lot to Bob to be able to look out and see everything coming to life, and to have me stay for the duration. It has been a very comfortable place for me to be each time I was there.” said Ruby.