Why hospice is a good thing

May 26, 2016 at 4:24 pm 2 comments

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VON Sakura House Hospice

Sakura (‘SAH-ku-ra’ or ‘sah-KUH-ra’), the Japanese word for cherry blossom…The cherry blossom reminds us of the fragility and impermanence of life and seemed the perfect symbol for our hospice.

It’s just two weeks, as I write this, that we said our goodbyes to our father. Still emotional, but so very grateful to have had our father for 90 years, a kind and  gentle man who both protected us and loved us. Who made time for us in his chosen life as a farmer. Together, he and our mother took good care of us.

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We are also grateful to the   doctors, nursing staff and volunteers for the wonderful care Dad (Harold) received in his time there. And to them, this blog post is dedicated.

Early in Dad’s stay, when the snow was mostly gone—making travel back and forth much easier—I resolved that I would eventually promote the facility on my blog, and so I took photos of the place.

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Dining area where we could sit awhile, eat and just have tea, coffee and a conversation, if we wished. We also had a game of Mexican Train one afternoon while Dad slept.

 

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My niece with Lois, a regular volunteer, whom we came to know, next to the kitchen area. We could often smell the wonderful aromas down the halls emanating from fresh baking. There were usually fresh cookies and sometimes tarts too.

 

As the weeks went on, we saw the blossoms come out on the trees around the building, the birds that stopped at the feeders, and Dad was able to look out from his bed and see the outdoors. When nursing staff wheeled his bed to the sunroom, he could look out over the fields and see signs of spring and people on tractors getting the soil ready for crops as he had done for so many years himself.

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The sunroom where patients could be wheeled for a change of scenery

 

From his bed in his own room, Dad could turn on the large screen television and keep in touch with what was going on in the outside world, including the US primaries where we joked about a certain candidate who will not be named here. We also played and replayed family slide shows and videos, including from a family wedding, and one evening we used Skype to connect with Mom and Dad’s friends and family members in Kapuskasing, Ontario.

 

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One of the lounge areas for families to sit and take a break

We had much time for conversation, allowing our patient to rest when his eyes became heavy. We even had a jigsaw puzzle set up for awhile in his room, knowing there was another one set up in the common area for anyone to work on. And we did that too.

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Coffee and tea ready where we could help ourselves, and offer a donation for it

 

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Room with a view and a  baby grand piano that I played sometimes. A bell choir rehearsed here and a fellow who had played for a musical group for years came to play the piano.

 

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An entertainment room to watch a movie, or nap, and toys for small children to play with. Small children were welcome there and our three grandchildren were among them.

We spent many hours in the hospice, visiting and later sitting with Dad when he slept more than he was awake. It was comforting to know that such wonderful caring people worked and volunteered around him—including staff who were well fitted to this kind of nursing who treated patients with dignity and respect. One of the nursing staff called my father “Dude” in a most kind way. They made room for us too and answered our questions when we had them.

 

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In that place there’s also a library, filled with many books for pleasurable reading and resource material on grief. [And for those who wish to have help with getting through grief, the volunteers can help  you connect with a group. They are also trained.]

 

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On those shelves, alongside Chicken Soup for the Soul books and others, is a copy of Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon, by Canadian authors (ed, NJ Lindquist). The theme is “Finding Love in Unexpected Places.” I was privileged to have a story published in that book.

I felt this was a perfect place for such short stories, because we did find love and caring there. I hope that readers will find hope within those pages as well as in that place, even at the end of a loved one’s life. It may be that a person will read stories of hope to patients, or that it may be of  comfort to family members who sit at the bedside of a father, mother, wife or grandparent.

Thus I say thank you to doctors, nursing staff and all the volunteers who made our time there with Dad such a blessing. If Dad could say thank you now, I know that he would do it. Thank you also to  nursing staff who came to Dad`s visitation to say a more formal good-bye. You know who you are.

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photos © C. Wilker

 

 

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Entry filed under: authors, blogs, books, family, Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon, photography, storytelling, writing. Tags: , , , , , , .

Making Memories Our Garden Grows

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Diana  |  May 26, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    What a beautiful place, Carolyn. It must have been such a comfort. And how nice of you to write about it, giving it a tribute of sorts. I worked as charge nurse in a nursing home for several years and it takes a lot of work to make a place comfortable and gentle. I’m glad your dad and you and your family had that.

    blessings,

    Reply
  • 2. Carolyn Wilker  |  May 27, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Diana. That’s what I intended. My Dad said, while he was there, “We have to tell more people about this place.” We are grateful too and I’ve passed notice of the post to a gal who works there so she can pass it along.

    Reply

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