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.