In recognition of National Home Care and Hospice Month, below are two short stories from families who have had a loved one in Good Samaritan Hospice, a mission of Concordia Lutheran Ministries. This special ministry is always looking for volunteers. Please don't hesitate to call us at 1.800.720.2557 or e-mail us if interested. Enjoy!
In Revelation 21, heaven is described as a city of transparent gold, with walls made of jewels and gates made of pearls a place of joy, wonder and serenity.
And while no worldly place will ever compare to the beauty of heaven, those who have spent their final days at the Good Samaritan Hospice House in Wexford have experienced a solace that most places on earth simply can't match.
A Tender, Loving Departure
In December 2009, after battling a rare form of dementia known as Pick's Disease for seven years, Elsie Rodgers was referred to hospice care by her physician something her husband Jim knew little about.
Elsie was originally in Good Samaritan Hospice's (GSH) home hospice care program, receiving visits twice a week. She eventually was moved to the Good Samaritan Hospice House in Wexford for respite, where she began her final journey home.
"Elsie, my wife of 50 years, was, in her last days and hours, given the loving, comforting, peaceful attention that made the journey into her new world not a painful experience, but a tender and loving departure," Jim said.
The pair met while Jim was in London serving in the Navy, they married three years later and had three children: Gary, Karen and David. A few years ago, with the help of daughter Karen, they celebrated their 50th anniversary in England (where Elsie was from) and renewed their wedding vows in the same church where they were married.
One thing Jim will never forget about their experience with GSH was the care given to not only his wife, but to him as well.
"Not only was she the recipient of (GSH's) unbelievable hospice care, but I, the caregiver, was taken into their careful world and shown what love truly is," Jim said. "Words cannot explain how deeply loved we both felt throughout our experience."
Surrounded by Such Beauty
Tom Streicher, whose wife Gladys passed away in GSH's care, was equally adrift when she was referred to hospice care by her physician. He said he remembers having a "now what" moment like many people experiencing hospice for the first time.
"They told me my wife was eligible for hospice, and I thought to myself ?well what does that mean?'" he said. "I didn't know what to expect specifically, but the GSH staff walked us through everything with the greatest patience and understanding. They made the hardest situation imaginable a little easier on us."
Tom and Gladys, who were coincidentally born only six weeks apart, met on a blind date in 1946. They spent the next 60 years together in love, raising their children Thomas, Raymond and Jean Marie.
Tom expressed the same sentiment for the Good Samaritan Hospice House as Jim. Although Gladys was only there for three days, the setting that surrounded her made the experience all the more peaceful.
"The atmosphere at the Hospice House was just incredible," Tom said. "Actually, we talked about how nice it would be to live in a place like this, surrounded by all that beauty... We looked out the window and saw a male deer and three female deer? we all said they came to see Gladys."
For more information on Good Samaritan Hospice's end-of-life comfort care or to schedule a tour at either the Wexford or Cabot inpatient units, call 1.800.720.2557 or e-mail us here. We also offer in-home hospice care in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler and northern Westmoreland counties.