Today I went back to Akron General Hospital with my friends and collegues, Pat and Jan Wright and provided lunch to the nurses and staff of the 5100 and 5400 hallways where Kathy was treated in the past two years. During her illness, we made several trips to this facility and Kathy was hospitalized twice in January-February of this year for extended periods in these wings. Both sections are staffed by outstanding nurses, techs and support people. In each visit, I found them willing and ready to help me with Kathy’s care.
Kathy hated hospitals and made me promise that she would not die in a hospital, if we could avoid it. It was for this reason that when it was clear there was nothing more that we could do, we brought her home for her final days. Yet, at AG, we found helpers and those whose calling in life is to assist people like us. Women like “Stephanie” who today shared with me that in caring for Kathy she learned how to be a better person and who had on previous occasions reflected to me how Kathy had profoundly impacted her life. There’s “Mary” a small, quiet woman whose care for Kathy in the final two weeks there became personal in so many ways and she became our advocate to get things we needed. The nursing supervisors on both wings were always available to me, to listen to my complaints, to advise me on the protocols needed to navigate the health systems and to offer a much needed hug when the time called for it. It was “Bonnie” who kept working until she could free up a entire semi-private room for our family so that we could have the entire room.
But my trip today was more than that. It was a return to some painful memories, to the place where decisions had to be made amidst moments of deep contemplation and prayer. The memories were powerful and emotional and yet, it was the right thing to do to go today. There was no perfect time to accomplish this and today felt right. As the nurses gathered to hear of Kathy’s final days and to inquire about my two sons and the grandchildren who had been on the floor, I simply said, “I came back today so you would know I did not forget all that you had done for my Kathy, my family and me!”
Nurses and service professionals like this do an awesome job and often we don’t take time to say “thank you” for what is done in our behalf and for others. Take the time today and be intentional with someone who has blessed your life and make sure they know you did not forget what they have done.
Believe me, you won’t regret the effort!