I received word today that one of my school mates was being transferred to Gordon Hospice House. I know I said recently that I am starting to see the beauty in the cycle of new life and death, and that is true, but I think that such news will still always produce chills and sadness. Even living in my home town, I generally see little of my classmates. Still there is a special place in my heart for them. When I do see them, often it is like no time has passed and we’re 16 again. Part of them will always be their younger selves in my eyes.
What has also occurred to me tonight, though, is how much often the Gordon Hospice House touches those I know. So many folks pass through there during their last days. I remember when it was new and I toured there, before patients were admitted. It was beautiful and functional and designed especially with the hospice concept in mind….keeping patients comfortable and caring for them, so the family and close friends can focus on their loved ones, and the patient can die with dignity and peace. At that point it wasn’t personal to me….I joked about wanting to stay a while to use the shower (it really was a very cool shower!) But now friends and family members of friends have spent extended time there, have used those facilities and experienced the services, and I am nothing but grateful that such a place exists in our town. It has become personal and warms my heart.
My mom was the first nursing coordinator of Hospice of Iredell County. Back then there was no facility to go to, so Hospice staff spent much time going around to homes, and were called at all hours of the day or night. The phone would ring, and my mom would drop everything to go to them. Her attitude shaped our attitudes…there was nothing more important than supporting someone in their last days. There was nothing more important than being there to help their family members cope. It never seemed to be a burden to her….she really was glad to be able to do it. And when it changed plans for our family, no one thought of complaining. That was a higher calling. We were fortunate to be healthy and have our family around us. But still, the families often had to wait for people like my mom to arrive after making that panicked call. I can’t imagine how scared many of them were when they were alone.
So tonight I am so grateful for the Gordon family and other donors who have made this facility possible…a place where folks can rest knowing that they are in the midst of care. A place where kind and wise people, like my friend Lynn Kunkle who is chaplain there, can lend a hand or give words of comfort or say a prayer when needed. A place where medical professionals can help make them comfortable and lessen their pain. A place where sometimes the definition of hope changes for people, to a hope that their loved one can leave their sick bodies behind.
As Teresa spends her first night in this place, I pray for peace for her and her family. She has dealt with this condition for quite a few years now, and is at peace with the decisions that she helped make. She is aware of what is going on and what is to come. As a woman of faith, she knows that her time on this earth may be short, but there is hope of a better tomorrow. My prayer is that she will be surrounded by peace and love, as she is ushered into her new forever home. I am thankful for a place that will provide comfort until she leaves this earth….or until a miracle occurs. Rest in peace tonight, Teresa Hope Nash. I hope your last days on this earth are lovely. And thank you God for the Gordon Hospice House and for all the hands you used to build it and sustain it. It is a great gift to our people.