Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving Is Coming...

Walk with with and count your blessings today!

I am reflecting on so many blessings today's as Thanksgiving draws near. The days are getting close to Thanksgiving, the holiday music is blaring, (even when you make a phone call and get placed on hall you must endure hearing "Deck The Halls", whether you are in the mood or not!). Those who are grieving are looking for ways to hide from now until after the first of the year, filled with dread of the holidays, fear of a life without their loved one, fear of the firsts and now forgetting how to tap their reserves of those wonderful memories that will help to sustain them. Kids of all ages are wanting to forget about Thanksgiving and go straight to the "wish list" of must-haves for the holiday list and desire. Funny all those wishes and must haves seem to be high-end items or the ever popular gift card! Whatever happened to shiny paper, inexpensive but fun presents spilling from under the tree and pure joy with each discovery? Ah but I miss those days of splendor!

This morning I am reflecting even beyond Thanksgiving's past... I am remembering a time (a hundred years ago) that I am compelled to write about. After all I do have more time to expand on the Thanksgiving season!!! But today I believe my inspiration is heightened by the delivery of Healing Heartaches to the son of Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. My dear friend gave him my book and was sure to have him autograph his latest work while there for me as well! Two birds, on friend, I am blessed indeed.  But then she took it one dolphin leap further and took a picture of Mr Ken Ross, brilliant photographer in addition to being my hero's son... She took a picture of him holding an advance read copy of Healing Heartaches!!! What a hoot and holler that was indeed! I will post it on the fan page and have already told Ken how I appreciated it. Again perhaps that has moved me into my reflections as I sit and admire the rising sun through the Spanish moss this morning.

As most know, or will know when reading Healing Heartaches, I have dedicated 20+ years to work in hospice. It has been one of the greatest honors of my life, and I wouldn't change a thing. I have learned from the true experts: those diagnosed, those living and those dying and those left behind to grieve the losses. I have been truly honored to journey beside thousands along the way. Visit the website and you will learn more about that!

On Christmas in Virginia I was working in the in-patient unit along with some very talented and loving hospice staff... and we were very short staffed. As I recall there had been a flu going around. It was in the 80"s and was very near the Nations' Capital. We were running from room to room, patient to patient... when the light bulb went off! I ran to the charge nurse Patsy; a wonderful woman and if anyone sits at the right hand of God it will and has to be her! I said, "Patsy, I have a great idea! My family is here from southwest Virginia for Christmas, I'll call and have them to come!!! They will help!"  She said, "Thank God my Comforter, Call THEM NOW."  They used to call me The Comforter back in the day... So I picked up the phone, my dear Mother answering with , "Hello, what are you doin calling?" and laughed... "Mom, I need you all to come, we need you to help here." Without a hesitation, she said, "Well we have to get showers, get dressed, and YOU KNOW I HAVE TO PUT MY MAKE UP ON!!!" And so it was.

Here they came, My Mom Dot, my aunt Linda, my cousin Angie, my Godson D'Vante then 4 years old!!! Each given a job. Mom visited and helped with patients; Linda served meals and fed and talked to patients and families, Angie washed and folded blankets, and D'Vante... he opened the door and greeted family members and guests!!!!  They were each in constant motion for hours on end. THAT MY FRIENDS IS PURE AND TRUE HOSPICE...and That is "Thanksgiving" We all laughed, hugged, the staff grateful; the patients and families filled with the love of many including these volunteers. They loved their little door greeter who even escorted their families and friends to rooms (with minimal direction I might add), and received hugs from him as well. The family sat beside the dying until family could arrive, they comforted family members when death had just occurred. There were krumpled kleenex around that day, always out of sight of the patients and families. They "gave up" their holiday plans for the day and evening to pay it forward for hospice, for me and for the staff... The volunteered for the interconnectedness of our community, and make no mistake, we are all interconnected! To all our relations!!!!

After the holidays they returned home, we had a wonderful holiday; we had "hallmark moments" we had "bonding", we had times of getting on each others nerves! We are family you know!

They went home... and then My Mother, Dot Sowers became a Hospice Volunteer in Southwest Virginia for Carillion Hospice in the New River Valley. I laugh when I think of it, that New River that she crossed over (alive and in a car folks) on her way to deliver the author of Healing Heartaches oh so long ago. She has been a volunteer since. Sitting with the dying, delivering hot onion rings to an Elder who wanted to get her fill of her favorite food before meeting her Maker, being involved in pillow fights with the kids at their annual camp; getting her sister Linda to also volunteer, her cousin Angie to also be a volunteer... I await hearing that my Godson D'Vante becomes the first "teen hospice volunteer" when they launch a teen volunteer program next! And to think, it began with a phone call during the holidays years ago, "MOM, HELP, WE NEED YOU AT HOSPICE!"  And the whole family came with open hearts and open arms.
Volunteers are the true hearts of hospice, the true hearts indeed. I give thanks today as we approach Thanksgiving and everyday.

As budgets are cut, programs are sliced, I will share with you... Hospice Is the ONLY program that mandates the use of volunteers, Medicare says IT MUST have volunteers, it must have programs to assist its communities, enhance its care of patients and families. Hospice is about life, it is about the quality of life for patients and those who love them.

Today, think about your life, think about your blessings as you approach Thanksgiving. I believe that everyday is a day of Thanksgiving. And today I am thankful for my wonderful and spontaneous family, I am thankful to still be here, and I am grateful to the pioneers of hospice and to hospice for caring for patients all over the world.

As for Carillion in New River Valley.... I hope you are grateful and thankful!  YOU have my family volunteering for your hospice! They are your hearts of your hospice! How about a teen hospice volunteer program? What a gift to your kids camp they would be??? Need some thoughts about that?

Blessings to you and yours on this beautiful morning!

Walk In Beauty


Angie said...

Oh how I remember that day ever so well. At the time I was not prepared or should I say I was not fully aware of what Hospice really was. I knew my cousin loved her job, took pride in her job and helped so many many people through rough times with a shoulder to lean on and words to help them see there is life after the pain. I was honored to help that day w/the rest of my family but now that I am older and I will say wiser (others may beg to differ!) I so love volunteering for Hospice. It has made a difference in my life as well as my childrens life.
Cuz, as always...even though you make me cry every morning....your words inspire me and brings back so many wonderful memories.
I love you and I hope you have a beautiful day~~

Irene said...

Sherry, your blog today reminds me of last year
when you and your family were a large part of the Hospice Holiday luncheon. I attended with my friend from Mississipi. We were struck at the volunteer presence and your family members. It left a lasting impression, so your words, today, ring so LOUD.
D Y S Irene