To Make a Joyful Noise

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Our stories about meaningful experiences are written as they unfold. Therefore, most stories are in the present tense. Some of the patients in these stories are no longer with us. They, and their families, gave us permission to share their experience with you. For those who have since passed, we share these in their memories with deep appreciation for what they have taught us about life and living.

Marlene Payne had a very specific wish. Granting that wish would involve getting her up five flights of stairs into a bell tower, so she could play the instrument she loved one more time. It would take four men, special equipment, and the cooperation of a small college. This is a great story about a great woman, and this little video tells it well.

How can you honor life during National Hospice & Palliative Care Month? Visit the #WeHonorLife campaign page to learn about all the ways you can help, from volunteering and shopping to helping us increase access to specialized care for the seriously ill and their families. Questions? Contact us at hospice@hospicecp.org or 859-986-1500 or visit our website.

One More Family Christmas

Our stories about meaningful experiences are written as they unfold. Therefore, most stories are in the present tense. Some of the patients in these stories are no longer with us. They, and their families, gave us permission to share their experience with you. For those who have since passed, we share these in their memories with deep appreciation for what they have taught us about life and living.

Rob Riddell, a cancer survivor, had a good life: a job he loved, faith and optimism in spades, and a large, happy family.

In 2016, at the young age of 54, the cancer returned. Rob was undaunted. Despite a poor prognosis, he felt blessed to have lived six years past his last bout with cancer.

We cared for Rob at home. Then, in October, he was admitted to our Compassionate Care Center for symptom management. His large family was a constant presence.

As he thought about how important his family was to him, Rob made a special request: one more Christmas celebration with his wife, children, and grandchildren.

“I want them to have one more Christmas with all of us together,” he told us. “It’s my gift to these grandbabies.”

Our staff started to plan. But, just a few days later, Rob declined rapidly. We realized we had hours, not weeks, to make this happen.

We found donors and volunteers to help. We were able to source a Christmas tree with decorations and place it in his room. A staff member knew someone locally who plays Santa at events, and he agreed to help us. A local non-profit organization donated two toys for each grandchild, which we wrapped and placed under the tree. Rob told us what he hoped to give to each family member, and we found those gifts, too. Staff and volunteers donated decorations and food.

That evening, all 11 grandchildren gathered around Rob’s bed and sang carols with him. The tree cast a warm glow as gifts were exchanged and the family opened the presents Rob requested we find for them. Santa visited with every child and grandchild and treated some of the adult family members to a Christmas waltz. Christmas music played in the background as the family celebrated together.

For Rob’s wife Sandra, this special Christmas is a memory she treasures.

“It meant so much to us, knowing it meant so much to him,” she says. “We hadn’t even thought that far ahead. But, he had. He knew he wouldn’t be with us by late December, so he made sure he had one more Christmas with all of us. It was kind of a closure for him and it was so special for us.”

To watch Rob’s story, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2QRm8YoUR8

How can you honor life during National Hospice & Palliative Care Month? Visit the #WeHonorLife campaign page to learn about all the ways you can help, from volunteering and shopping to helping us increase access to specialized care for the seriously ill and their families. Questions? Contact us at hospice@hospicecp.org or 859-986-1500 or visit our website.

A Special UK Wildcat Surprises Young Patient

Our stories about meaningful experiences are written as they unfold. Therefore, most stories are in the present tense. Some of the patients in these stories are no longer with us. They, and their families, gave us permission to share their experience with you. For those who have since passed, we share these in their memories with deep appreciation for what they have taught us about life and living.

We have the honor of caring for Hunter. He’s 19, lives in Madison County, and has spent most of his life loving UK Men’s Basketball.

K Fund gift basket

When we learned what a Wildcat fan he is, we wanted to do something special for him. A staff member reached out to The K Fund, the fundraising arm of UK Athletics, to ask about donating UK memorabilia. Another staff member found her way to Richmond’s own Wildcat, Dominique Hawkins, to ask if he might be willing to help us stage a surprise for Hunter.

Thankfully, both the K Fund and Dominique were ready to help.

Dominique with staff members Sarah Rollins and Nicki Stewart, who helped plan Hunter’s surprise.

Although we provide care for Hunter at his home, we worked with his family to tell Hunter we wanted to meet him at our Compassionate Care Center for a surprise.

When the family arrived, we took them into the large family room. Waiting for them was the gift basket donated by the K Fund. It included a piece of the last championship floor, signed by Coach Calipari.

Hunter was shy, but you could tell how pleased he was.

Then, we brought Dominique into the room. His mega-watt smile and genuine kindness lit up the entire facility. A very surprised Hunter was still a little shy, but clearly in awe.

Dominique spent time next to Hunter as the family talked with him about UK and basketball. Later, Dominique even spent time visiting with the staff working at the Compassionate Care Center.

Thank you to Dominique and to the K Fund for making Hunter’s day.

How can you honor life during National Hospice & Palliative Care Month? Visit the #WeHonorLife campaign page to learn about all the ways you can help, from volunteering and shopping to helping us increase access to specialized care for the seriously ill and their families. Questions? Contact us at hospice@hospicecp.org or 859-986-1500 or visit our website.

The Best Biscuit Breakfast

Our stories about meaningful experiences are written as they unfold. Therefore, most stories are in the present tense. Some of the patients in these stories are no longer with us. They, and their families, gave us permission to share their experience with you. For those who have since passed, we share these in their memories with deep appreciation for what they have taught us about life and living.

Harold Eversole is cared for by our home hospice program. He enjoys entertaining our team with interesting stories about his life.

One humorous story was about the long-running debate between him and his brother over which restaurant made the best biscuits and gravy.  Harold loves Dairy Queen (DQ).  He had a comprehensive list of good reasons why DQ was the undisputed champion.  

Sally Iseral and Mr. Eversole swap stories over breakfast.

Once, during a conversation with Hospice Care Plus chaplain, Sally Iseral, Harold said, “I really would love to find a way to have Dairy Queen breakfast about two times a week.”

Hospice staff are always listening for what’s important to those in our care, hoping to assist them with whatever may bring joy or support quality of life. 

Mr. Eversole doesn’t drive. He and Sally looked into using a food delivery service, but found that DQ doesn’t participate.

It seemed like a no-brainer for his hospice team to offer to bring Harold his DQ breakfasts when they came to visit him.  Sally came on Tuesdays and Kelly Fitch, his hospice social worker, visited on Thursdays.  Sally and Kelly didn’t want him to pay for them, but Mr. Eversole is a fiercely independent man and wouldn’t dream of letting them pay for his meals.  Sally researched how much it cost and found that it came to six dollars.  Mr. Eversole asked if DQ offered a senior discount.

Jessica Smith, shift manager at Dairy Queen, is ready for Sally to deliver Mr. Eversole’s biscuit breakfast.

Sally approached the staff of the DQ closest to him (Keeneland Rd., Richmond) and asked about the senior discount.  The day shift manager, Jessica Smith, said the best she could do was 10% but suggested that we talk to the general manager, Xzaviyer Dunham. 

When asked if DQ would be willing to discount Mr. Eversole’s meals, Mr. Dunham didn’t skip a beat.  He said they would donate them as long as Mr. Eversole wanted them.  We are not the only people in the community this DQ gives to.  “We try and give back whenever we can,” he said, listing off several charitable causes they had contributed to recently. 

We are grateful to Mr. Eversole for letting us share this story about his experience with hospice and to Mr. Dunham and the team at DQ for so graciously sharing their food with one of their biggest fans.

How can you honor life during National Hospice & Palliative Care Month? Visit the #WeHonorLife campaign page to learn about all the ways you can help, from volunteering and shopping to helping us increase access to specialized care for the seriously ill and their families. Questions? Contact us at hospice@hospicecp.org or 859-986-1500 or visit our website.

Anthony’s Christmas with Santa

Our stories about meaningful experiences are written as they unfold. Therefore, most stories are in the present tense. Some of the patients in these stories are no longer with us. They, and their families, gave us permission to share their experience with you. For those who have since passed, we share these in their memories with deep appreciation for what they have taught us about life and living.

Anthony is a young man under our care. His home-hospice team worked to manage pain and symptoms and to support him and his family. As they got to know him, they were reminded that, even in the midst of crisis, children want to feel “normal.”

All he wanted, he told his family, was a Super Mario game. It was October, and our team immediately set out to make sure he got the game he wanted. We asked the local Walmart to partner with us. They did, donating the game along with dozens of Mario-branded toys, clothes, and bedding.

With a cartload of wonderful gifts, we had an idea: would Anthony’s family be interested in making this an early Christmas? Yes, they told us. Anthony still believed wholeheartedly in Santa, and he loved Christmas.

A local Santa agreed to help. On Halloween day, he and Anthony’s Hospice Care Plus team drove to Anthony’s home in a car filled with Christmas gifts wrapped by our volunteers. One team member remembers that, when Anthony first spotted Santa, he could think of nothing to say about this unexpected, magical moment except, “Santa. I love you.” For the next hour or so, Anthony and his parents—we made sure they had gifts, too—shared a small family celebration of Christmas on Halloween afternoon.

Magical moments like these are possible because our community of donors, businesses, and volunteers understands that, in hospice and palliative care, every moment matters. We believe that making these moments possible is every bit as essential to quality of life as the medical management of pain and symptoms.

How can you honor life during National Hospice & Palliative Care Month? Visit the #WeHonorLife campaign page to learn about all the ways you can help, from volunteering and shopping to helping us increase access to specialized care for the seriously ill and their families. Questions? Contact us at hospice@hospicecp.org or 859-986-1500 or visit our website.

To Preserve & Share a Song

Our stories about meaningful experiences are written as they unfold. Therefore, most stories are in the present tense. Some of the patients in these stories are no longer with us. They, and their families, gave us permission to share their experience with you. For those who have since passed, we share these in their memories with deep appreciation for what they have taught us about life and living.

All her life, Lois Harrison used the gift of her voice to express and share her faith.  Singing was very important to her. But, now in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease, Lois could no longer speak. 

It is very important to our care teams that people know their lives have meaning even though they face new limitations.  Sally, a chaplain at our hospice, wanted Lois to know that her life and her work still had great meaning, even without her voice. 

Lois wasn’t just a singer, she was a songwriter too.  One song she had written, “Welcome Home,” had special meaning now.  She wanted to use her recorded voice to share that meaning and encourage others. 

Lois has been singing with Allen and the Arvin Sisters (she was one of the sisters) for long enough that the only recording of “Welcome Home” was on cassette tape. 

She, Sally, and Mr. Harrison came up with a plan to digitize the song so they could share it with faith communities, whom they’d ask to play it on a specific Sunday. She needed a digital version if she was going to share it with churches. 

We created a video for social media featuring the song and put out a public call for help with the digitizing project. 

Shaunna Patton, a social worker with Caretenders at the time, connected us with Pastor B.J. Strautman with Living Water Church.  He agreed to digitize the song for Lois so that she could share it with worship leaders to use.

Parkinson’s may have taken Lois Harrison’s voice, but never her ability to share her faith with others.

The following video was created to honor Lois’s wish to share her gift with others. We share it here with deep respect, in her memory.

                                                                                                           

How can you honor life during National Hospice & Palliative Care Month? Visit the #WeHonorLife campaign page to learn about all the ways you can help, from volunteering and shopping to helping us increase access to specialized care for the seriously ill and their families. Questions? Contact us at hospice@hospicecp.org or 859-986-1500 or visit our website.

Joy Makes Home Visit

Our stories about meaningful experiences are written as they unfold. Therefore, most stories are in the present tense. Some of the patients in these stories are no longer with us. They, and their families, gave us permission to share their experience with you. For those who have since passed, we share these in their memories with deep appreciation for what they have taught us about life and living.

Not many know that Joy, our therapy dog, makes house calls. People are used to seeing her at our Compassionate Care Center, but we care for about 90 patients and their families each day in their homes, in six counties.

Mr. Isaacs is one of them. He was at our Compassionate Care Center for respite care once and fell in love with Joy. His hospice home care team offered to bring her to visit sometime. It happened today, and you can see how happy he is. Joy earns her name every day!

We give our heartfelt thanks to Mr. Isaacs for allowing us to share these photos.

How can you honor life during National Hospice & Palliative Care Month? Visit the #WeHonorLife campaign page to learn about all the ways you can help, from volunteering and shopping to helping us increase access to specialized care for the seriously ill and their families. Questions? Contact us at hospice@hospicecp.org or 859-986-1500 or visit our website.

To Celebrate 100 Years of Life

Our stories about meaningful experiences are written as they unfold. Therefore, most stories are in the present tense. Some of the patients in these stories are no longer with us. They, and their families, gave us permission to share their experience with you. For those who have since passed, we share these in their memories with deep appreciation for what they have taught us about life and living.

To reach 100 years is a major achievement, a milestone to honor. For the family of Rowland Moore, the milestone was bittersweet.

Mr. Moore was about to turn 100 years old as he was dying. His family was grieving what they knew was coming even as they were eager to acknowledge this milestone. They knew their patriarch would most likely not live until his birthday, which was just over a week away. His only child, daughter Cheryl Moore, decided to throw a family celebration and birthday party on June 26, 2021.

It was too important a milestone NOT to be celebrated, so they would celebrate it early.

On the special day, she brought in old, framed photos. In one, a dashing Mr. Moore is in uniform, home visiting while serving in the army during World War II. In another, he is still dashing later in life, standing next to Ruby, his beautiful wife.

They worked with our Compassionate Care Center staff to host the gathering. The family had a beautiful cake and refreshments. Our staff supplied party plates, napkins, and cups. The family also had a milestone-worthy banner made. Mr. Moore’s career was in signs, so this was fitting.

Volunteer John Scully and two care team members helped roll Mr. Rowland’s bed onto the back patio, where his family were gathered. They hung the banner over his bed, and his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and other family gathered around him. They sang happy birthday, shared cake and ice cream, and honored a century of life.

It was a gift to be able to watch this family come together in this way, intent on honoring every second of life even as they prepared for Mr. Rowland’s death. We were honored to witness and support it.

We are grateful to Mr. Rowland and his family for allowing us to share their inspiring story of making every moment count.

How can you honor life during National Hospice & Palliative Care Month? Visit the #WeHonorLife campaign page to learn about all the ways you can help, from volunteering and shopping to helping us increase access to specialized care for the seriously ill and their families. Questions? Contact us at hospice@hospicecp.org or 859-986-1500 or visit our website.

To Have Mom at My Wedding

Our stories about meaningful experiences are written as they unfold. Therefore, most stories are in the present tense. Some of the patients in these stories are no longer with us. They, and their families, gave us permission to share their experience with you. For those who have since passed, we share these in their memories with deep appreciation for what they have taught us about life and living.

We met Nancy through her mother who was in our care at the Compassionate Care Center.

During a conversation with Nancy, one of our nurses, Teresa Dickson, learned that she felt sad that her mother wouldn’t be with her for her wedding in June. 

Teresa immediately spoke with Heather Randall, a social worker, about Nancy’s situation. Together, they offered Nancy the opportunity to have her wedding at the Center.

When Teresa and Heather discussed the wedding idea with Nancy, they helped her understand that her mother, Connie, was declining quickly and that the wedding should take place the next day.

The Hospice Care Plus staff, immediately began reaching out to friends and supporters to help pull the wedding together.

We worried we wouldn’t find a wedding dress that quickly. But, as luck would have it, a staff member checked Facebook and found that a Mt. Vernon woman had a dress for sale in Nancy’s size. We contacted the woman (Mrs. Renée Oliver), and she very generously offered to donate the dress to Nancy. Mrs. Oliver later shared that her grandfather had been a patient at our Compassionate Care Center 10 years ago. When we met to pick up the dress from her, she said, “today would have been my grandfather’s birthday. You all finding my dress was just meant to be.” Amazingly, it was a perfect fit for Nancy and looked lovely on her. Many thanks to Mrs. Oliver!

Kroger Marketplace in Richmond is always so helpful to us. We contacted them to ask if their floral department might help us with a bouquet, and they donated a beautiful one, which included daisies, Nancy’s favorite flower.

Every bride should feel special and beautiful, and we wanted that for Nancy and her mother, even if we had only 24 hours to plan. Thankfully, a few key people donated their time and services quickly. Charm Todd at Perfect Touch Beauty Salon in Richmond donated hair styling for Nancy. Kylie Randall, daughter of social worker Heather Randall, donated makeup application. And Roni April, a former nurse at our Compassionate Care Center, saw a staff member’s Facebook post about needing bobby pins and used her lunch break at work to buy them and bring them to us.

Since we had to pull the wedding together so quickly, the families really didn’t have time to worry about returning home for clothing or purchasing special items. Amy Lasher, owner of Kid to Kid, donated ties and suspenders for the groom and the children, and Russell and Cynthia Cole donated a shirt for the groom.

We also wondered how to get a wedding-worthy cake quickly. Thankfully, Leah Dean Lowe with Chaos Confections Bakery came to the rescue. She donated a beautiful cake, decked out with the bride’s favorite flower: daisies.

Photographer Kat Wagers, owner of Kat Wayers Studios, was alerted to our Facebook post, in which we asked for help finding a professional photographer who might donate services on short notice. She agreed and came through with flying colors, spending a great deal of time taking and processing hundreds of photographs. We’re so grateful that Nancy has these beautiful photos to treasure.

Kelly Price Taylor, one of our volunteers and well-known in Madison County for her beautiful voice, sang a processional song for the bride and groom.  Another Hospice Care Plus volunteer, Hee-Young Shin, sang the recessional in the same lovely voice she uses to sing to patients at the Center when she volunteers. Ruth Crutcher, who prepares meals for patients at the Center, also joined in.

Family members, guests, and Hospice Care Plus staff and volunteers watched as the bride and her father came through the doors of the Center’s family room to take their places in front of the mantle. With Denise Roberts McKinney, Hospice Care Plus chaplain, officiating and her mother in her bed next to them, the bride and groom were married.

Our chief medical director, Dr. Hanan Budeiri (known to all of us as Dr. B), donated refreshments for a reception.

Our thanks to the family for their willingness to share this moment with you. That willingness stems from their appreciation for your help, without which Nancy and her mother would not have been able to celebrate Nancy’s wedding together.

Nancy’s mother died peacefully the next morning, knowing her daughter treasured her enough to make sure she was present at such a key life milestone.

Hospice care is often like this: sadness at the loss or potential loss of a loved one, punctuated by moments of joy, affection, peace, compassion, and togetherness. Our thanks to everyone who helped make this possible.

How can you honor life during National Hospice & Palliative Care Month? Visit the #WeHonorLife campaign page to learn about all the ways you can help, from volunteering and shopping to helping us increase access to specialized care for the seriously ill and their families. Questions? Contact us at hospice@hospicecp.org or 859-986-1500 or visit our website.


To See a Movie in the Theater

Our stories about meaningful experiences are written as they unfold. Therefore, most stories are in the present tense. Some of the patients in these stories are no longer with us. They, and their families, gave us permission to share their experience with you. For those who have since passed, we share these in their memories with deep appreciation for what they have taught us about life and living.

Elizabeth, 27 years old, felt a strong connection with Joey Feek and very much wanted to see the movie, “To Joey, with Love.” But our medical team was concerned that Elizabeth might not be with us by October 6, when the movie was to be shown for the last time.

Elizabeth’s care team got together with her family to make a plan.

We called the theater and asked for their help. In no time at all, they made arrangements to give a private viewing to Elizabeth and her family. They donated snacks for Elizabeth’s family, guests, and the nursing staff we sent with her. She was able to watch the entire film from the comfort of her stretcher, provided by Madison County EMS.

It seemed to all of us that she used all the resources left to her to make it to, and through, that film. She declined quickly afterward. We learned less than an hour before the final public viewing of the film, that she had passed away.

Rest in peace, Elizabeth. We’re so happy you got to be part of a story that meant so much to you. Special thanks go to everyone at Cinemark at Richmond Centre, Madison County EMS, Elizabeth’s wonderful family for allowing us to be part of her care, and Joey+Rory, whose beautiful and brave story means so much to so many.

How can you honor life during National Hospice & Palliative Care Month? Visit the #WeHonorLife campaign page to learn about all the ways you can help, from volunteering and shopping to helping us increase access to specialized care for the seriously ill and their families. Questions? Contact us at hospice@hospicecp.org or 859-986-1500 or visit our website.

To Be Thanked for His Service

Our stories about meaningful experiences are written as they unfold. Therefore, most stories are in the present tense. Some of the patients in these stories are no longer with us. They, and their families, gave us permission to share their experience with you. For those who have since passed, we share these in their memories with deep appreciation for what they have taught us about life and living.

Honoring those who have served our country is one of our greatest joys. Not everyone understands how important it can be for a veteran to be formally recognized for their service, especially as the end of life nears. For some, these bedside ceremonies are the first time they’ve experienced that kind of recognition. For Jack, a Korean War veteran, being honored for his service meant more than we could have imagined.

Jack’s family shared with us that the Korean War was often referred to as “The Forgotten War,” and veterans who served in this war sometimes feel overlooked. Jack’s hospice team got to work on planning a recognition for his service. They reached out to Honor Flight Bluegrass, out of Louisville, and plans were underway to get Jack on the next flight to Washington, D.C. Although Jack appreciated the offer, he ultimately decided that a ceremony at home would be best, so we brought the honor flight to him.

On a chilly October evening, members from the local American Legion, along with a representative from Honor Flight Bluegrass, helped us recognize Jack for his dedicated service as a Korean War veteran. There were a few tears, but mostly big smiles and a lot of stories from Jack’s days in the Korean War. His sister said he’d long been waiting for this day – a day to be formally thanked.

How can you honor life during National Hospice & Palliative Care Month? Visit the #WeHonorLife campaign page to learn about all the ways you can help, from volunteering and shopping to helping us increase access to specialized care for the seriously ill and their families. Questions? Contact us at hospice@hospicecp.org or 859-986-1500 or visit our website.