Lessons from My Grandparents' Farm

Posted by Eric Miller, JourneyCare Senior Director of Service Excellence

Lessons from My Grandparents' Farm
Darrell Bulmon, Eric's grandfather

I am so blessed to be working here at JourneyCare. My first two months have been filled with one amazing day after another. I am humbled by the heartfelt work I have seen firsthand and I am so proud and thankful for everything I have experienced thus far.

I joined JourneyCare in December, 2015, as Senior Director of Service Excellence. In this role, I’m collaborating with virtually every aspect of the organization; with a focus on developing a culture filled with programs and values and a walk-of-life that prepares us to deliver service excellence filled with magic moments.

We all have unique journeys to share that somehow guide us to where we are today.

In my professional career, I have worked in business development, advertising and customer experience marketing. Yet, I believe that each of these experiences has helped prepare me for my current role here at JourneyCare.

My journey started on my grandparents’ farm in Michigan, where I had my first experience with hospice. My grandmother was a five-year breast cancer survivor and the strongest, toughest woman I have ever known, as well as the sweetest kindest heart. As the matriarch of our family, born on Valentine’s Day, Filomena (DiMeglio ) Bulmon was just five feet tall, Italian through and through, cared for everyone and cooked big Italian meals on Sundays that left you in a food coma by noon. The sounds of her singing opera and the smell of her sauce filled the house with such warmth.

Eric-Miller-grandmotherIt was an adjustment for our family when hospice came to care for her, but the team was fantastic and I was in awe of their compassion and care for her needs and those of my mother, her primary caregiver. Thanks to the great care provided by hospice, I was able to share some precious moments with my Grandmother, gaining a closeness that I will forever cherish. The hospice team gave us the coaching, teaching and support that helped us be confident in what we were doing and allowing us to relax and be in “the moment.” Through it all, my Grandmother never lost her spunk, finding the strength to smile and still give me a swat with her darn yardstick.

The last time I saw her, she grabbed me tight and whispered, “...remember me as good!” and boy, do I ever. This was thanks to hospice.

On that same farm, I learned more about Service Excellence than most people do in a lifetime. My grandfather, Darrell Bulmon, used to say, “You have to make hay when the sun is shining...and it’s always shining somewhere.”

Other lessons he taught me:

· INTEGRITY- A handshake is the best tool you have.

· KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS - Know them, check in on them...it’s good for the soul and good business

· UNDER PROMISE AND OVER DELIVER - Understand what they need; give them more. It was simple.

· YOUR REPUTATION WILL SPREAD, GOOD OR BAD. Act as if someone is watching; the rest will take care of itself.

· LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES. IT’S OK. - If you hurry, bad things can happen. Never put up wet hay, nothing good will come of it.

· IF THE PIGS GET OUT, DROP EVERYTHING.- Sometimes, there are interruptions that require immediate action. Do it, then get back to business

· WATCH WHERE YOU STEP- My grandfather used that both literally and figuratively. What you say and what you do have consequences. Be mindful of where you step...you can stand there in it or shovel your way out.

· THERE IS ALWAYS TIME FOR TEA - There is nothing better than to pause for a cup of tea, to rest and rejuvenate, appreciate how much we’ve accomplished, and plan the rest of the day.

My grandfather was truly a man outstanding in his field.

A hero of mine, the late Dr. Rita Pierson, a professional educator for the past 40 years, was someone who knew the impact Service Excellence could make. In this TED Talk, she talks about the value and importance of human connections and relationships.


To paraphrase Dr. Pierson, I shared the following with my JourneyCare colleagues at a recent All Staff Meeting:

(So practice your strut and repeat after me)

I am somebody.

I was somebody when I came and I’ll be a better somebody after this day.

We are powerful.

We are strong.

We deserve to be here.

Our patients deserve the BEST from us.

We have places to go and people to serve.

Let’s do this together...with EXCELLENCE!


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