Memories From a Front Room

By: Dana Casadei, Angela Hospice Volunteer

There isn’t a big, neon sign for it when you walk in. No display or memorial of any kind either. What seems like a regular room in a suburban house to most people is a lot more than that to Barbara Ziegler. Her front room is where she and her husband Marvin spent their last days together during his time in Angela Hospice home care.

Maybe it’s all the pictures on display. Or the pastel chalk pieces that Barbara created proudly hanging on the walls. Or how all the natural light coming in makes the house feel warm and cozy. But more than likely it’s Barbara herself, who makes you feel like you’re in your own home as soon as you arrive.

Barbara and her husband, Marvin, at a Christmas
event over 20 years ago.
Barbara has lived in her Livonia home for 50 years, where she and her husband Marvin watched their three sons grow up. Marvin, who everyone called Marv, went through Angela Hospice’s home care program in 2004. The room our interview was conducted in was Marvin’s makeshift bedroom. There are no wires or tubes in the room now, but a lot of pictures from the holidays waiting to be put into frames and scrapbooks, many of Barbara’s first grandchild.

“He couldn’t sleep in a regular bed,” she said, which is why his home care was set up in the front room.

Earlier that year Marvin had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and was scheduled for surgery. While doing a chest X-ray before said surgery, the doctors discovered he had lung cancer. According to Barbara there were three spots on his lung. Only two were taken out during the surgery, and the third grew. Marvin had treatments for about a year but they didn’t work, Barbara said.

She found out on Mother’s Day that Marvin would be placed in home care.

“That was hard. Now I hate Mother’s Day when it comes around,” she said with a slight laugh.

Barbara may hate Mother’s Day but she knew that she would be able to have the help of her three sons if Marvin was in home care, which played a large role in the decision. One son, Brian, slept next to his dad on the couch during his time on home care, even though there was another perfectly good bed in the house. This way if his father woke up in the middle of the night someone was there.

While the experience was tough at times, Barbara only had wonderful things to say about her experience with the care she and Marvin received from Angela Hospice, even the parts that were a little rougher to talk about.

“They were very good at taking care of him,” she said. “I did nothing. They took care of everything when they came.”

A nurse came two or three times a week for Marvin, but Barbara said that when they needed the on-call nurse she was there immediately.

He was in home care for almost a month before he died at 62.

“I knew what my husband went through,” Barbara said. “I thought he was in a better place.”

While Barbara and Marvin stayed home during his final days, the two traveled all over the world together during their 40 years of marriage. They went everywhere from Europe to Australia. Barbara tells each story with the same warm smile that makes her eyes crinkle around the edges. But that’s how she tells every story about her family, with just as much love and enthusiasm as the last.

Her involvement with Angela Hospice didn’t stop with Marvin’s passing. In addition to having her father and sister in the Angela Hospice Care Center, Barbara had attended the memorial services and group grief counseling. She still frequently donates and attends some of Angela Hospice’s yearly events.

The 73-year-old, who doesn’t feel nearly that old, has participated in the Walk of Remembrance multiple times, and attended the Arbor Day Ceremony where she had a stone laid in Marvin’s memory.

There is one event that Barbara continues to participate in yearly though, the Tree of Life. She has been doing it since the Tree of Life began in 1986.

“It’s been quite a while,” she said. “I keep adding more angels though.”

So why keep donating to Angela Hospice? Because she believes in the cause, simple as that.

“They do good things there. They take care of people well,” Barbara said. “I would recommend Angela Hospice to everyone.”

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