Wish Granted

Kate Uberti’s mom, Helen Oakes, was able to spend her final days where she wanted to be: in her own home

It was about ten minutes after the interview was scheduled to start when volunteer Kate Uberti showed up. She hadn’t hit traffic on the way or forgotten when it started, she just lost track of time talking with an Angela Hospice Care Center patient.

“She was on a roll,” Kate laughed. “She’s dying but she’s still there and still wanting to make the most of her afternoon. So she was talking to me and we were laughing.”

Helen celebrated her 90th birthday at Angela Hospice.
For Kate, those conversations with patients are about much more than conversing; they’re about really listening. She believes everyone’s got a story and she wants to hear it.

“I have learned things here that I’ve not been able to learn anywhere else in my life,” Kate said. “To me, that’s why this place is so special.”

Getting to volunteer in the wing where her mom, Helen, was a patient in 2012 is pretty special too.

When her mom hit her nineties she began having a lot of cardiac problems and had a few hospitalizations. One was worse than the others, leading to Helen being sent to the hospital’s intensive care unit and then the hospital’s hospice unit. After some time she had to vacate and find her own care due to insurance policies. Enter Angela Hospice, which Kate’s husband, an oncologist, was very familiar with.

“I remember them saying when she was admitted they were expecting her to live probably a maximum of two to three days,” Kate said. “We were ready for it at that point because she had been through so much.

“You hate the thought of the end but at the same time you know that’s where you’re heading so you just hope you can get there quickly,” she continued.

Kate and her siblings had set up a schedule so someone would be with Helen 24/7, and Kate had the day shift.

After entering the Care Center unconscious and uncommunicative, Helen started to respond to treatment about a month into her care. Kate said she would bring her mom a McDonald’s milkshake every day and watch as she started to get better and better.

During her six months in the Care Center, Kate was able to form a very different kind of relationship with her mom, one that she hadn’t had before.

Kate with her mom at a family wedding.
“We worked through a lot of bad stuff and a lot of good stuff, and then we really had a lot of fun too,” Kate said.

Helen responded so well to treatment that she was discharged to an assisted care facility for five months before moving back into her own home.

“We got an additional year of life with my mom in her own house,” Kate said. “She wanted to die at home, so she got her wish.”

Helen was also able to attend one more big family wedding.

“She had a very good life after living at Angela Hospice,” Kate said.

Helen’s time in the Care Center is when Kate started thinking about becoming a volunteer because she was so inspired by watching the people that worked there.

“I thought, there’s going to come a time and I’m going to come back and I will volunteer here,” Kate said.

Then two years after her mom’s death, she did. During her training she was introduced to Angela Hospice foundress Sister Mary Giovanni, who talked to the class about the Felician core values and gave them a card with those values on it. Kate’s card is one she looks at every day at home.

“To me, those things are so inspiring for you to think about when you’re here but also when you’re out in the world,” Kate said. “I think those core values are really something to take to heart…I am very, very grateful to the hospice program for letting me have that opportunity.”

No comments:

Post a Comment