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.
Mr. Smith (name changed) loved to fish. Every weekend for most of his life, he managed to fit in a time to fish for a while at his favorite fishing hole. His wife, Mary, often told us that his fishing spot was like his second home.
When we admitted Mr. Smith to our hospice home program, he had recently been hospitalized for several weeks. His energy was low and he was weak. He still loved to talk, though. Every time his Hospice Care Plus team visited, he regaled them with fishing stories.
One afternoon, when the nurse aid was visiting, he told her a story that struck a nerve with her.
“One Saturday a long time ago,” he told her, “I got up early and went to the fishing hole. It was the first real spring day, and that fishing hole was calling to me. Mary usually made me breakfast biscuits on Friday nights, so I could take them with me if I went fishing the next morning. I grabbed those biscuits and my fishing pole, and off I went.”
He paused at this point, remembering that warm, sunny morning. The nurse aid saw that his eyes were a little misty.
“That morning was the last time I got to go there, and I was just thinking that I wish I’d known it. I wish I’d known it was the last time.”
The nurse aid asked what he’d have done differently if he’d known it was the last time.
“Honestly, I think I just would’ve sat there and soaked it up. I’d have thanked God for the time I was able to spend there over the years. It was my quiet spot, you know—a place where I could get away from everything.”
“Mr. Smith,” the nurse aid said, “If it’s okay with you, I’m going to take this back to the whole hospice team. I bet they’ll want to find a way to help with that.”
For the next two weeks, the team worked hard to help Mr. Smith strengthen his legs a bit. They walked arm-in-arm with him around the house, reviewed his medications, and came up with a plan. By the end of those two weeks, one sunny summer morning, three team members showed up to go fishing.
It wasn’t easy—Mr. Smith’s mobility was still pretty limited—but those three team members were able to get him to the car with his fishing gear. They drove to his favorite fishing hole, helped him out of the car and into a special chair, put a pole in his hand, and left him alone for several minutes.
The team eventually returned and sat next to him in silence, taking in the beautiful view. After about 10 minutes with him, Mr. Smith said, “It’s time to go, ladies.”
They helped him back into the car and took him home. After they settled him into his favorite chair at home, he looked up at them and smiled.
“What you just did…that meant the world to me,” he told them. “I needed to say good-bye to that place. I have a peace about everything now that I didn’t have before. Thank you for that.”
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.