There have been occasions throughout my career when I’ve had the opportunity to connect with someone deeply impacted by the organization I serve – occasions that touch my heart, remind me why I’ve chosen this work, and fill me with gratitude. I had one of these occasions a few weeks ago, and my conversation with Judy will stick with me for years to come.
When Judy first learned of her dad’s cancer diagnosis, it was already terminal. He briefly pursued treatment but quickly came to terms with the fact that the end was near – likely only months away.
Read more about one family’s experience with TRU and consider making a year-end donation to ensure that everyone has access to the care received by the Laschingers.
Dad is the pillar of our family – our strong and unwavering patriarch. His diagnosis was terminal from the start, and his decline was so drastic, so fast. Even though we had resources and knowledge at our fingertips (I’m a nurse, my sister a CNA), we felt totally out of control. We wanted to honor our dad’s wish to be at home, but circumstances were different than we’d imagined, and we realized that we had to be open. You can’t plan for everything. And we needed help.
The day came when Dave (Judy’s father) experienced unmanageable pain, as well as irritation often referred to as terminal agitation. A friend of the family told Judy that she’d always heard wonderful things about TRU Community Care and that TRU has an inpatient hospice care center. She gently suggested that Dave would benefit from that level of care. Judy said of her subsequent conversation with Matthew, our admissions intake supervisor:
Matthew listened and he truly heard me. He knew we had to discuss our options first as a family, and he told me, “I’ll wait for you. We will be here.” He just knew. He anticipated our needs even before I could fully articulate them. Matthew went above and beyond to get Dad into TRU Hospice Care within hours of our first phone call. His compassion for this work was evident, and his efforts will not be forgotten. I hung up feeling like the stars were aligning, and the coordination of care from that point forward was remarkable.
Dave was admitted to a room at the Care Center that night. His pain and irritability were brought under control, and he was able to rest peacefully. The sentiments shared by Dave’s spouse and children speak volumes about his short but powerful stay there:
One of the first things a TRU team member said to me when observing that my sister and I were tending to our Dad was, “It’s time to take a step back from your role as caregivers and just focus on loving your Dad. We’ll take care of the rest.” – Debbie (Dave’s daughter)
The Care Center was filled with spirituality and love. Everyone there was calming and nurturing, and they treated us like their own family. They also had answers, and they let us know what we could expect every step of the way. They turned a terrible situation into a beautiful and loving one. – Chris (Dave’s son)
I had all the confidence that he would be taken care of – beyond what we could do at home – and I was able to allow myself a little rest. The staff took a load off of our shoulders in the most compassionate way possible. – Liz (Dave’s wife)
Judy told me through tears about a few meaningful moments from her family’s time with TRU:
Even though Dad was not alert and hardly made a movement, he seemed to just know when nurse Berta was in the room. She managed a playful and genuine tone with him, and we could feel him relax when she was around. At one point Berta joked with him about his appearance in the 70’s film “Airport,” and Dad broke his long stillness to bring a finger to his lips, as if to say with a coy wink, “Shh, we don’t make a fuss about that.”
We can now look back on an excruciatingly painful time and see it as a beautiful, peaceful, loving experience. When we look back, we can still feel the warmth, love, and protection provided by our team at TRU.
After Dad passed, we gathered as a family to ring the memorial bell – a sacred Care Center ritual. It was only fitting that the staff members joined in our circle with their arms around us, just as it felt to us since the moment we’d arrived. The whole team had such a presence. They made us feel like we were the only people there, even when every room was full. It seemed like Dad was their only patient, and we were their only concern.
I will forever be grateful for Judy sharing so vulnerably with me, and now with you, about the end of her dad’s life. My wish is that everyone I love and everyone you love will receive the compassionate care experienced by Dave and his family when it is needed most. When you support TRU with a contribution, you help to ensure that my wish comes true.
Director of Development and Communications