Glory, Joy & I went for a south Georgia visit last weekend. As we headed home on Sunday, we traveled north from the south-western corner of Georgia. We passed through Albany. We stopped to have lunch with sweet Nina and her mama, Bonnie. We dined over stories and difficult updates.
And then we went to the Hospice Lodge.
Everyone should have a chance to respite at as beautiful a place.
Nobody should have to suffer through the reason for its being: cancer.
Bonnie and Nina are caring for Pat. But, along the way, her medications began to compete for attention and things began to spiral. Hallucinations were out of control. Pat was miserable and Bonnie couldn’t help her.
So, it was recommended that Pat spend a week at the hospice house in Albany.
Bonnie was heavyhearted. She didn’t want to “send her mama away.” In her hallucinations, her mama was screaming words about Bonnie sending her away to be *whispers* killed. Bonnie … was heartbroken.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Cancer wreaks havoc in so many ways …. physically … mentally … emotionally ….
But, the hospice house looks like a lodge, nestled in wooded secrecy. If it wasn’t for the medical connections and hospital bed and the nurses stations at each corner, you wouldn’t even know it was a hospital care facility. It is the only healthcare facility in the world to earn Audubon Certification. It is built-in such a matter that its footprint does a very small amount of damage to the environment. And you feel that when you drive onto the grounds. Pets, children and visitors of all sorts are welcome. Trails weave throughout the 210 acres. It’s a beautiful place … even heavenly, at least for this nature lover.
And so, Bonnie was able to leave Pat there with comfort knowing that the care AND the surroundings were exceptional.
After lunch, we went by for a visit. I wasn’t sure what to expect.
But, oh, Miss Pat was spunky. Not sure whether she would remember us, Bonnie introduced us. We’ve spent many a night in their home and been friends for … going on a decade, but illness can take many things from us … including our memory. So, Bonnie introduced us and Pat quickly quipped back in her feisty, matter-of-fact tone, “Of course, I remember them! They’re family!”
So, our visit was sweet. We chatted for quite a while.
Miss Pat was supposed to go back home last week on Tuesday or Wednesday, but took a turn for worse. She was never able to return back home with Bonnie. She passed away at the Hospice House. What a blessing that Bonnie was able to be surrounded by people who knew what to do and when. And what mercy that God allowed her to go to there, get her medicines straightened out so that she had several good days there. And, rather than going home, she was there until the end. Bonnie had expert help and support all the way to the end.
I remember the tender moment when I leaned down to hug Pat good-bye. As I leaned down to give her a hug good-bye, she wouldn’t let me go. In a poor attempt to whisper in my ear, she made a raspy-voiced request for me to watch over Bonnie. She said she was worried about her and knows this whole thing is hard on her. “Check on her, for me, please?,” she asked. As I choked up, I assured her I would.
Before we left, Bonnie and Nina handed US presents. In my scurry of a life, I didn’t travel bearing gifts. Even with all the chaos on their plates, Bonnie and Nina did. They bless me.
My sweet gift was a beautiful ceramic pine cone. The name of the scent? Autumn, of course. And it smells yummy…. scrumptious even. Bonnie and I share a love of leaves, trees and autumn. In fact, the beautiful medallion on her necklace (in the photo above) bears a beautiful, stately oak.
Yes, pine cones and friendships make me happy this morning.
What about you? What makes you happy on this tender Monday morning?