A Breath of Fresh Air

Mary (far right) with her three sisters and her dad, Norman.
For Mary Jardine having her dad’s hospice care set up in the living room made life a little easier, and a little funnier.

“It was just funny because it was like a drive-through,” she laughed. “It’s a family joke. That’s how we (the family) get through a lot of things; we have to have a sense of humor.”

Laughter is after all the best medicine, and one that’s helped Mary and her family after the passing of her dad, Norman.

Norman was an Angela Hospice patient for about a month-and-a-half before dying in August, a day before his 88th birthday.

While Norman, who had diabetes and dementia, lived with Mary, it was her other sister, a nurse, who often took him to his doctor appointments and noticed how rapidly he was losing weight. Mary said that her sister talked to the doctor about hospice and then took the necessary steps to see if Norman qualified, which he did. Angela Hospice started coming to the house soon after.

Mary, a Livonia resident, said that being local played a part in choosing Angela Hospice for Norman.

“I was just so amazed by how quick everything went,” Mary said. “You’d call them and they were right there. It wasn’t, ‘Oh, we have to set up an appointment.’ It wasn’t like that.”

Not only was Angela Hospice there for Norman, who was very family-oriented, but Mary and her family received support as well.

“It’s such a special group of people [at Angela Hospice],” she said.

Prior to this Mary had no other hospice experience so at first she felt like putting Norman in hospice would be giving up on him. She also thought that hospice was only for people with cancer. She quickly learned neither was true.

“They always made me feel important,” Mary said. “I would always feel bad because I couldn’t do this or that for him and they would say, ‘Don’t feel bad.”

With Angela Hospice’s help Mary was able to go to work -- she works midnights as a pharmacy tech at Henry Ford -- and feel comfortable, knowing her dad was in good hands.

Mary said between Angela Hospice staff and loved ones there were constantly people there, which her dad really enjoyed. A particular moment that stands out is when Deacon Roger O’Donnell gave him Holy Communion and said a prayer with him. Norman was a very religious man.

“My dad loved that because he knew what was going on,” she said.

During his final days Mary said that he wasn’t really talking and had a glazed look over his eyes, a very normal part of the disease process when the body is shutting down. It was like he was physically there but not mentally.

“I don’t think he really knew what was going on,” Mary said.

But he did remember his grandson, Michael.

“We swear he was waiting for Michael to come and see him before he passed,” she said. “We think that’s what happened. Michael came Tuesday and he died on Thursday.”

When asked about what advice she would give to someone going through something similar she kept it simple.

“Go for it,” she said. “Once hospice came in it was like a breath of fresh air.”

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