Today I was reminded of Thelma, a patient I once had. She was a looker. What I mean by that is she was always dressed to the nines, with her hair impeccable and her nails always done. The pictures displayed around the house told me she was very particular about how she looked. She is the one that taught me if you can’t be dressed your best for God and your man, then you best not dress up for anyone else.
As I visited her I became very aware of the fact that she was intent on looking her best when she died. I arrived to make a visit one day and there were two other women at her bedside. She introduced them as her hairdresser and her nail lady. She had known these women for years. She announced to us that she had planned this meeting to discuss her last day on this earth. She proceeded to tell us that she would need her hair dyed and set, her nails done, and a specific dress on when she died. As she was talking I was thinking there is no way that can happen. Well it did happen because at the end of that meeting she had us all promise that we would do that for her. Thelma died several weeks later and as promised I called her friends in to help me. We had hair color everywhere – including on us, but we got it done! We proceeded to do her nails and dress her. She looked so beautiful laying there all done up and we all agreed that there was somewhat of a smile on Thelma’s face. You see, Thelma had told us that when she died she wanted to look her best because she hadn’t seen her husband for 17 years and she wanted to dance with him and look beautiful for him. As hard as it was to dye her hair, do her nails, and dress her it was our gift to her. That was super important to her and her family.
In hospice, we can give the gift of service to our patients and help them understand that your gift is to serve them and their family. I loved Thelma. Someday, when I see her again, I will ask her what her husband thought when he saw her and how her dance went.
Cindy Lee, RN, CHPN, CHPCA
CEO and Administrator, Owner and Founder