My Mother, Our Pavilion

Posted by Malin Maleegrai, LCSW

My Mother, Our Pavilion
Utaiwon Maleegrai and her granddaughter.

The first patient to be admitted to the Marshak Family Hospice Pavilion was a 64 year old married female who was admitted to IPU at Lieberman with metastatic melanoma. She was admitted for management of abdominal pain and for end of life care. She was the first patient transferred from the IPU at Lieberman to the Hospice Pavilion. Her name was Utaiwon Maleegrai and she was my mother.

August 22, 2012 was a beautiful day. My mother, who was a long-term director of nursing at a local nursing home and huge supporter of Midwest CareCenter, knew that this was a monumentous day for our organization. She knew that she was the first patient to be admitted to the new hospice inpatient unit and it was an honor for her.

As we waited for the ambulance to arrive, she asked for her head scarf as her hair was thinning from chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I reassured her that it was ok but she insisted. Then, with a smile, she asked me if I had my make up bag with me. This was my mother. It was an important, albeit bittersweet, day for me and Midwest CareCenter and she was going to look her best.

My mother was at the Hospice Pavilion for two days. Outside of my mother's room, I knew it was pure chaos with the move to a brand new unit and a group of new nurses going through orientation. Inside my mother's room, it was tranquil, peaceful, and comfortable. She received the best care possible and her physical, emotional, and spiritual needs were tended to with immense respect and dignity. Family, including my daughter who was three-and-a-half at the time, spent quality time with her. My daughter felt truly comfortable at the Pavilion, playing in the children's area of the family room and exploring the Waud Healing Garden. The day before my mother died, my daughter and my mom took their last nap together after the music-thanatology vigil. Also on the day before my mother died, a Buddhist Monk from our local temple came to offer blessings to my mother and she was able to participate in the ceremony. She was able to let go and die peacefully with her family surrounding her bedside.

Losing my mother, best friend, and daughter's grandmother has been one of the most difficult things my family has experienced thus far. What we as a family experienced at the Marshak Family Hospice Pavilion has helped us heal and become stronger as a family. My daughter learned valuable life lessons during those days, lessons that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Lessons that I hope will foster empathy, compassion and understanding.

Families, including mine, hold on to the guidance, compassion, and care that they experience at the Hospice Pavilion for a life time. What we do on a daily basis matters, it matters to everyone we come into contact with. I can attest to this and this is why I'm committed to providing the highest quality of care possible. Because it matters.

Comments (3)

  • Coleen Daniels

    02 October 2015 at 22:19 | #

    Oh, Mal,
    I felt so compelled to respond to this. As you know, my mom also passed at the IPU in 1999. Fast forward to 2014 when Midwest companioned my dad as he walked his final journey at his home. Both were life-changing events for me, and without the kindness and support of social workers like yourself, my journey after they both passed would have been so much more difficult. There are holes in my heart from their loss, but it's ok. That's how the light gets in. God bless~


  • Jenna K

    03 October 2015 at 02:31 | #

    What a beautiful story. It's so inspiring to hear about death as a peaceful experience.


  • Polly Hansen

    20 October 2015 at 19:09 | #

    Thanks for sharing your story. I love the photo. It's good to be reminded of the sacredness of this experience and that Midwest Care ensures that it remain so from every aspect.


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