I had received such a blessing. There is a lot of truth to the following statement, “Money doesn’t buy everything.” This short story experience proves just one small way that the statement is valid.
It was Friday night, after a long week of work taking care of several hospice patients that I have. In this line of work, it can be very challenging at times to walk through, but there are moments that come along that remind us of why we do what we do. I see it as a gift of encouragement, both for the caregiver as well as the person that is dying. Being a hospice caregiver, you become well aware of the signs that are evident when someone will be passing from this life.
This beautiful lady was 105 years old. I had checked on her as often as I could during my day to offer her words of comfort and a kind hand as she is letting go. At one point, I had noticed that her breathing was more labored, and she had a coolness to her skin. What impressed me was seeing her will to live and survive. She was so strong, and yet, so weak in this final day of her life.
The room was quiet, but had a little bit of a chill in the air. Not cold, but cool. There was nothing that really changed in the room except a chair was moved a bit closer for a loved one to sit in, so they could spend some time talking or reading to her.
At the end of my day after I attended to the other patients I had, I just knew that this would be the last time I would see this precious soul. I called my supervisor, and asked permission to give her a partial bath, to clean her up before the weekend. I told her our nurse was with me as well and we both can do it fairly quickly. I was given the permission I had asked for and the nurse and I quickly went about our task.
We worked quickly and carefully so we didn’t cause her any pain. What was beautiful about this part is we were able to see her relax for the first time. She was no longer tense. No longer nervous. No longer fighting the cares of this world. She was trusting the nurse and I completely as we gently and lovingly wash her with the warm water and apply the lotions upon her skin that she loved. She was dressed, hair brushed, and teeth brushed before she headed for her next destination.
When we were done, we quickly cleaned the room. I then watched the nurse lovingly place the over the bed table close by with family pictures resting upon it. She carefully picked the ones that she knew were this precious lady’s favorite ones to look at. Then she placed the table close by where she could see them and enjoy them one last time just in case she opened her eyes. I watched the special care she gave in this little action, but became profound in my mind. I thought about how beautiful and kind that one thoughtful deed was. I prayed over her, and then I said my good-byes and thanked her for blessing us with the opportunity to serve her.
The nurse and I stepped out of the room as we put our supplies away. When checking on her again, a loved one was then in her room and commented on how beautiful and peaceful she looked. They had said the room felt warm and smelled like the lotion that this precious woman liked to wear. Yes. There was peace and comfort in the room.
Then, a short 20 minutes later, she breathed her last. Clean, relaxed, and comforted knowing that she was lovingly cared for during this transition. Such beauty in the presence of the Peace that entered the room. It will be a memory that will last a lifetime.