I Will Never Be Scared of the Word Hospice Again

Katherine Hubscher (Sept. 20, 1915 to Aug. 12, 2009) and her granddaughter

By Tammy Frye

I have never had the experience of dealing with a family member who needed hospice care until recently. 

My grandmother had a wonderful, love-filled 94 years of life and was blessed to be in great health until her 93rd year. She was admitted to Orchard Villa in Oregon, Ohio this January [2009] and has just recently passed away [summer, 2009). 

The caregivers there were extraordinary! You would have thought they grew up right beside us, calling my grandma Miss Kate or Katie like she loved. They would go out of their way to throw a few rollers in her hair (outside of beauty shop day!!). I would watch them lovingly rub lotion into her dry legs, smoothing her hair back when she was in bed, just tons of loving touches every day. 

Honestly, I've always been scared of the word hospice until I experienced it through my grandma. It has such a gloomy cloud hanging over it and it shouldn't. 

During my grandma's final hours, I was fortunate enough to be with her. The staff, without my asking, moved the other lady in the room so we could have privacy during her last night.  They made up a bed for me. They brought me coffee, made sure I was ok, and even gave me hugs throughout the night. When she passed the next morning, I was holding her hand.  The ladies cried with me. 

We rejoiced grandma's time while there, how she even made others smile and laugh while she was nearing the end. They gave me privacy to say goodbye to her, didn't rush into the "formal process", and even brought me a tray filled with fruit, muffins and beverages to try to offer sympathy.

The friends grandma made there are wonderful ladies, each unique in their own problems, but all full of love. I made new "grandma's" while visiting my grandma there, and will still be back to see them even though grandma is no longer with us. 

This is now what hospice means to me:


My life has been changed by this experience, and I am going to look for ways to volunteer time to help those other special people feel love before they go. I will be bringing my old books in for them to read, bring them special snacks, and of course the most precious commodity of all: the hug and smile I will give them. 

Thank you so much for this wonderful organization - I will never, ever be scared of the word hospice again.