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Forbes Hospice

In Loving Memory of My Mother

Memory Photoby Ronna Edelstein

I envisioned a hospice as a demonic domicile filled with malevolent phantoms and death. The eight days in March 2007 that my mother, Anne, spent at Forbes Hospice, however, taught me that this image was rooted in my own fears of death, not in reality. I discovered that Forbes Hospice is a home. Its family of caring nurses, aides, counselors, and administrators welcomed my father and me and turned my mother’s final days into ones of peace and dignity.

The lobby wall of the hospice contains a tree of life; each golden leaf bears the name of a loved on who passed away at the hospice. I initially shuddered at the hideous oxymoron of “tree of life” and “hospice,” but I quickly realized that Forbes Hospice does emphasize life by celebrating the patients and their loved ones.

As I prepared to enter the hospice, I braced myself for the suffocating medicinal smell that I have always associated with a senior care facility. Much to my surprise and relief, I found myself inhaling the appetizing aromas of soup. The hospice kitchen became the place where my dad and I went to sip a cup of tea, indulge in a homemade treat, heat up a meal, or converse with other visitors who understood how we felt.

We also visited the meditation room to find nourishment for our souls. The room’s simple furniture and collection of supportive reading material provided my father and me with a better perspective of my mother’s final days. In this quiet room, we could take deep, soothing breaths that enabled us to think and reflect.

Like the rest of the hospice, my mother’s room had a home-like quality to it. Covering my mother’s bed was a colorful afghan that some hospice angel had crocheted. The nurses or aides always dressed my mother in a fresh nightgown (we favored the pink silk one), combed her hair, and smoothed her chapped lips with ointment. These nurses and aides spoke softly to my mother as they gently turned and massaged her back and legs. They never allowed my mother to suffer any physical pain. Even though my mother could not respond, they still treated her as a vibrant woman worthy of respect.

When my mother died, a hospice counselor came into the room, held our hands, and led us in a prayer. The nurse supported me as I made the requisite phone calls to the funeral home and family. A week after my mother’s passing, a representative of the hospice called to see how my dad and I were doing. It was then that we connected with Kevin Henry, the grief counselor who embodies the professionalism and compassion of Forbes Hospice and its staff.

On March 21, 2008, the year anniversary of my mom’s death, my dad and I added a golden leaf to the tree of life. The leaf is in memory of my mother – and in honor of Forbes Hospice and its nurses, counselors, volunteers, and administrators.

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