60th Wedding Anniversary in a Nursing Home

I amble down the hall at the Sunset Manor,* trying to make eye contact with the wheelchair bound residents lining the walls. Some return my smile. I make my way into the room of our Wings of Hope Hospice patient. Marty* is a white haired gentleman with wire rim glasses. He is a little slouched […]

Reflections on Death with Dignity

When I started working in hospice care, the phrase ‘death with dignity’ meant maintaining respect for the individual who was dying as that person became more and more vulnerable. For example, dignity meant maintaining a person’s privacy by keeping body parts covered; keeping by a person clean and groomed; talking to instead of around him […]

Fun Facts About the 2016 Great Cookie Caper

The student councils of three area elementary schools, Alamo, Washington, and Dix Street, provided the holiday cookies and packaged them for delivery. This year 23 volunteer drivers shared their time to deliver over 200 trays of holiday cookies to patient families that we now serve and those we have served in the past year. We […]

A Homeless Man Comes Home for Christmas

This is how our Wings Home provided a place for reunion between a homeless man and his family during their last Christmas together.  He had called from a hospital in Ohio having been told he would soon die.  His sister from Allegan went with her husband to pick him up in their own vehicle, not […]

Loveliness Enhanced by Debilitating Disease

The photos near her bed at the skilled nursing facility show her as robust. She was lean with sinewy muscles during her first fifty-five years. Her character was firm, too. The honor and integrity of her family yielded the attractiveness of a trustworthy individual. Her long dark mane of hair framed eyes alive with love […]

Love On A King Size Bed

A family gathers The yard was packed with cars as I pulled into the driveway. A few grand-kids were gathered in a circle out in the yard having a smoke, perhaps relieving the stress of the moment. A loved one lay dying inside. When a family experiences this kind of grief, they come up against […]

Fundraising IS a Profession!

Professional Fundraising A friend of mine has been a professional fundraiser for over 30 years. She has worked for many nonprofits raising millions of dollars. When she got her first fundraising job, her father said to her “They PAY you to do this?!!” Yes, they paid her. It is a profession. There are university degrees […]

Importance of Memorial Gatherings

As a chaplain, I often encounter well-intentioned people who plan no gathering for family and friends after death occurs. A dying person may say, “Don’t go to any trouble or expense for me.” I have, however, observed the benefit for those who gather in supportive community. 1. ENCOURAGEMENT When we process a death together, we […]

The Final Voice

Introduction As the generation of people who are faced with decisions for our parents, we are so very many times their final voice.  We are a society that plans for almost all changes in life. We plan for graduation, our wedding, the birth of a baby, college and retirement yet most of us avoid planning […]