How Hospice Helped Me While My Grandpa was Living There

Katie and grandpa, O.D. Whittle

By Katie Pabst

My grandpa, O.D. Whittle, was admitted into Haven Hospice of Gainesville, Florida in December of 2004 and on January 11, 2005 he passed away from cancer. He was a patient in the Haven Hospice facility for five weeks.

Throughout those weeks I had a hard time facing the fact that I was losing someone that I loved so much. I was only 12 years old at the time and I still did not know how to handle emotions that were as strong as the ones I was going through. The hospice house in Gainesville had a small cubby for children under one of the staircases. That small cubby became the place I ran to when my feelings became too much for me. I am so grateful for that safe place that the children’s cubby provided me during those five weeks; it played a very large part in how I handled my grandfather’s death.

The environment and the staff also made the whole experience so much more comfortable. My family and I were able to spend those last moments in the best way possible. The comfort and support that was provided to us was outstanding and we were able to fully concentrate on spending as much of that time with him as possible.

Christmas has always been my family’s favorite holiday; it is the holiday that my whole family gathers together to have fun. The hospice staff provided such an unforgettable Christmas for my family that year. They provided a large room and helped us set up our entire Christmas to be able to include my grandpa. The memories from that Christmas are completely invaluable to me and it wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity and helpfulness of the staff at Haven Hospice.

My grandfather and I had a very special relationship; and at 18 years old now I still remember him as a person who shaped the person I have become. He is the reason why I am so successful in my school work and he helped to form the type of personality I have. It still warms my heart and makes my eyes tear when I think about him today. I cherish the moments that Haven Hospice provided for my family and I to appreciate and enjoy the time we had with him in those final weeks. That is the reason why I have started a foundation called Buddy Bears 4 Life; it provides teddy bears for the patients and their family members to use for comfort. I know I would have cherished something like a teddy bear in remembrance of my grandpa and I want to provide that to other families.