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.
Charlie Conner and his wife Sue spent the winter at their Florida home for 17 years. He loved the warm weather, dancing with his love of 52 years, and listening to her sing.
But when Charlie was diagnosed with cancer, everything changed. Winters in Florida seemed impossible. Instead, they stayed closer to home, where Sue took wonderful care of him. She didn’t leave Charlie’s side for four years.
As his condition worsened, Charlie told Sue he wanted to spend one more winter in
Florida. It wouldn’t be an easy trip, and it would take a lot of planning, but Charlie wanted to see Sue dance and sing in the Florida sun again, so they made the arrangements. In November, they returned to their Florida home and were able to stay until April.
Not long after returning to Kentucky, Charlie’s physician suggested they look into hospice care. He was admitted to Hospice Care Plus and his hospice team began to care for him. They quickly learned that he had another wish. He and Sue had always attended both of their family reunions in the summers. Charlie wanted to attend one more reunion.
As the July reunion drew near, Charlie’s condition worsened again. Knowing how important it was to him to make it to the reunion, the hospice team worked diligently to bring pain and symptoms under control, making frequent visits, adjusting medications, and collaborating with his physicians. When the big day approached, Charlie felt well enough to go. He wasn’t able to stay the entire day, but he did get to make that last trip to see his family.
A month later, Charlie passed away.
That’s when Sue told us that he had one more wish, and this one only Sue could help him with.
Sue was the love of Charlie’s life. Throughout his illness, he worked hard to prepare her for his leaving. His final wish to Sue was that she go on living.
“He told me, ‘you love to dance and you love to sing. When I’m gone, you go on living. Find someone to dance with and keep on singing,’” remembers Sue.
Hospice’s bereavement program stayed in touch with Sue to offer support. They were delighted to learn that Sue would, in fact, honor Charlie’s last wish.
“It’s only been a few months since Charlie passed, but I went to Florida this winter, because that’s what he would have wanted. I’m continuing to live, just like he asked me to do.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 859-986-1500 or visit our website.