When my Dad died nearly 27 years ago, the hospice movement was just taking root in the U.S. I’d read about it, and at one point suggested to Mom that she consider it for Dad. She looked at me with utter horror, and made quite clear that she and the medical providers would take care of Dad, in the hospital. I think she viewed hospice as some sort of new-age weirdness, and it wasn’t for her.

Within a couple of years, after her permanent relocation to Mom & Dad’s former weekend home, she became a volunteer for the local hospice, then a wholly-volunteer movement in her rural community. It gave her a great deal of satisfaction, as she was always a do-er. She’d nurse and bathe patients, and, when necessary, prepare meals. Her work continued for several years, until (understandably) the rules changed, and she was no longer able to perform nursing duties as a volunteer, unlicensed nurse.

Now she’s a hospice client. The local hospice is run through the closest hospital (a mere 30 miles away), and while it’s far more sophisticated than the volunteer organization Mom worked for, it’s not lost its personal, compassionate touch. Mom’s journey has been eased in so many respects by the knowledgeable, caring personnel. They’ve thought of everything, from an emergency bag of medications, to booklets describing common end-of-life signs. I can call them anytime, day or night, and they’ve been so helpful giving me hints and tricks on how to make Mom’s journey more comfortable. If I’m Mom’s coach, our hospice nurse is the trainer for both of us. We also have access to social workers, spiritual counselors, aids, and volunteers. While we’ve not been in a position to use all of these services, it’s such a comfort knowing they’re a phone call away.

From the initial diagnosis, Mom asked that she be permitted to die at home, in her own bed, in her beloved cottage that she & my Dad designed and built from scratch, the place that she’s lived the longest of any of her homes (as she’s reminded me repeatedly).

Hospice, thank you for making Mom’s hope a likely reality.