I am a relatively new employee at Heart ‘n Home. I may also be one of the oldest. If you had asked me a year ago if I would be working for a hospice organization I would have questioned your sanity and said if anything, I was planning for retirement – not a new career. Then, after 10 years of dialysis, my mother said that enough was enough and she ended those treatments and chose instead to become a patient on hospice. Hospice set up a bed in her home on August 7th and Mom died peacefully in her sleep early on the 14th. She was not on hospice very long, but it was enough for our family to gather around her, care for her, sing her favorite songs, pray with her, love her and let her love us back. I had actually worked with hospice off and on my whole career as a pastor, but this was the first time it was personal. With the help of hospice, Mom was able to live out her life fully to the end and to die well.
Her passing marked the beginning of a crazy and amazing year. I was still not looking for an opportunity to become a spiritual care worker for any hospice organization, but when my wife was given the opportunity to begin a new counseling challenge at the medical clinic in La Pine, Oregon, I thought I would see if there was any jobs available for someone with my spiritual background. I did not have much hope that I would find something in La Pine, so you can understand how amazed I was when I saw an opening there with an organization called “Heart ‘n Home Hospice & Palliative Care, LLC.” I applied for the job and two weeks later I was hired. Three weeks after my start date, I was in a completely unfamiliar town, being overwhelmed with learning a new job and the Heart ‘n Home way. I began my spiritual care work the week before Christmas, my wife and I moved the week after Christmas, and we have been adjusting to life in the wild and crazy “city” of La Pine ever since. All together, it has been a pretty steep learning curve.
Just a few days before my mom died, my daughter gave birth to twins – a boy and a girl. My daughter lives on the East Coast and my mom in the West, but she was able to see their pictures before she died, which was a joy for all of us. This year I was able to spend a week with them on the anniversary of their births. They wore me out, but it was a wonderful weariness. Maybe I am seeing things because I want to, but I am convinced that already I can see something of my mother in each of them. He has her smile and she has her love of music.
Those two young lives mean many things to me. Love. Hope. Gratitude. Pride. Remembrance. A fierce determination to protect them, even with my life. They also remind me that hospice is about living life fully, from birth to end of life and back to birth again.
La Pine Spiritual Care Provider
Heart ‘n Home Hospice & Palliative Care