The Gift of Care that is Above and Beyond
Posted by Katie Lyons
My dad, Richard Lyons, spent the last four months of his life on the third floor of the Marshak Family Hospice CareCenter. He had been receiving hospice care at my sister's house for two months prior. But on July 16 of this year, his symptoms had worsened and he fell.
When my father initially arrived at the CareCenter it appeared he only had days left to live, but it was such a profound relief to be in such a beautiful place and know he was getting excellent care. His room had an amazing view that I likened to Ireland, where he was born. Being able to walk outside and sit in the gorgeous, peaceful gardens or sit in the family room with the incredible view made the experience pleasant. As it turned out, he did not pass then and it became clear he could actually live a while longer.
We chose to keep my dad at the CareCenter because of the excellent care he was receiving and the comfort it gave all of us to know he was in such good hands. My visits with my father during this time were consistently sacred: I would play Irish music and hold his hand. When we were not able to be with my father, volunteers and staff would sit with him and hold his hand, or the chaplains would come in to pray with him. When he wanted to move – since he always was a mover and on the go – we would wheel him outside to the garden. We came to find out when we were not there and he wanted to get out, a volunteer would take him out to the garden or next door to visit with the administrative staff.
Talk about above and beyond.
My dad passed the day before Thanksgiving, November 25, 2015. He lived a long full life and we were so blessed to have him as our father. During the last four months, there was no greater gift than knowing my father was receiving the best possible care all the way around.
When Social Worker Malin Maleegrai told me they were going to do a memorial service for my dad on December 7, I knew I had to be there. When I walked into the place where he had lived for four months, I found 25 people standing around the room and Irish music was playing, as always. There were beautiful fresh flowers in vases all around the room. The nurses, CNAs, chaplains and volunteers even had plastic champagne glasses for sparkling juice and they joked they couldn't have scotch, which had been my dad's favorite alcohol beverage.
What made this experience even more meaningful (as if it wasn't already) was the chaplain had given each person a paper snowflake to write down their favorite memory of my dad. The chaplain started the service with a reading and then each person read their favorite memory of my dad out loud and put the snowflake in the box. To top it all off, they gave me the beautifully decorated box with their memories of my dad to keep.
Words cannot express how this service lifted me. It gave me the opportunity to thank everyone and have my own closure for the end of this amazing journey at a very special place.