Today's location was in The Castro at a Hospice House. Yea, after only a few months ago, we were moments away of placing my father-in-law into Hospice care and here we are, visiting a Hospice Home. Well, one big difference is that the in this particular house, there are probably a few Aids Patients, along with other terminally ill. I talked about my reservations to my husband, prayed that I would gain the strength to deal with this. Well, as the day was approaching, again, it was clear, as in the past when I was unsure of an environment that I was unfamiliar being in.... "this has nothing to do with YOU Barbara! It has everything to do with the patients and Gabby spreading joy with the patients ability to LOVE and receive LOVE, unconditionally!
So, we arrived at our destination about 10 minutes early and went right to work.
Our first visit was with a 69 year old gentle man (yes, splitting the word on purpose). With barely a voice left, we talked about the past, pets that we owned that made an impression in our lives, Gabby antics and her day-to-day life. It was a sweet exchange all the while Gabby snuggled beside the gentle man in his bed. The patient received a personal phone call. I asked if we should leave and he nodded his head in agreement.
Our 2nd visit was with another elderly man, he did not state his age. Gabby felt at peace with him, crawled up to his upper arm, enjoyed his calm demeanor, and swiftly FELL ASLEEP!!! I asked the patient if he was OK and he answered, "Can you just leave her here?" How sweet is that? We talked more Gabby stories, his Christmas cards hanging on the wall, and the presence of Valentine's Day approaching and how he needed to purchase a few cards. Finally, after about 15 minutes, he said, "Well, maybe someone else will enjoy a visit with Gabby." Instead of saying Good-bye, sounding so "final".... I said, "Thank you for loving Gabby. She really enjoyed that."
Our next visit was pretty difficult. An older woman, lying in the bed, hands clenched together, eyes mostly closed, with another woman by her bedside. When we approached the patient, the other woman at her bedside said, "Mom, there is a little dog here to see you. Do you want to see the dog?" Ohhh, it was her daughter.....the patient really did not understand. After talking to her, placing Gabby on her bed, and talking some more...the daughter and I were able to get 'Mom' to open her eyes eyes a few times. She actually answered, "Yes" when asked if she liked dogs. Meanwhile, the daughter continued to get her mother to open her eyes, acknowledge Me or Gabby, pleading, "Mommy, do you want to see the dog?" the daughter was so desperate to get her mother to 'connect'.. This simple conversation made me ponder how death is so difficult on so many levels. There is no easy way out of this life. It is difficult for everyone involved.
Our last patient of the day was upstairs. Once we arrived, I placed Gabby on the woman's bed, as she sat in all of the previous visits. Gabby refused to lay down. She would only sit. The woman and I talked about Gabby's history, stories, blah blah, still, it was apparent that Gabby was not comfortable. Not sure why. The woman was very nice, talkative and pet Gabby on her chest the entire time. I just found it very odd that Gabby would not relax as she did on the other beds. Maybe after 45 minutes Gabby was tired of visiting? Did Gabby sense something else? Not sure.
We said our good-byes, thanked the staff, and directly behind us in the hallway, a funeral home personnel was arriving with a gurney to pick up a body. Yes, we were at a hospice home. Death is here, but you'd never know it with the sweet, loving, understanding staff that truly loved their roles.
So, as apprehensive as I was to arrive to this new place, I depart with a high regard for individuals who opt for such a position in working in this environment, am humbled in my own existence, forever grateful for each healthy breath I take, and thankful that Gabby played a roll in providing a bit of happiness and contentment to someones last days on this earth.
We'll return to this particular home later in the month and THIS time, I'll truly look forward to spreading our love and reaching out to those who need it most. Yup, chalk this one up for another successful visit.