An Amazing Final Goodbye

On a muggy day in June, where you could almost grab the humidity by the handful, Cathy Wood did something she thought would end in tears: talk about her dad’s passing.

“I was really close to my dad so I’m still struggling with this,” Cathy said as she got out notes about her experience with Angela Hospice. She didn’t want to miss a detail.

If she was so nervous, why do the interview?

“I feel like this is the last thing I can do for my dad…to say how good you guys were to him,” she said.

Cathy, holding the letter her dad received from his
We Honor Veterans ceremony.
Cathy’s journey with Angela Hospice started last Christmas when her mom told her that her dad, Pete, was really sick and she wanted to take him to the hospital. Cathy wanted to wait until Monday so they could call his doctor, which they did. Pete’s physician told them there wasn’t anything further he could do for Pete and that they needed to be looking at hospice. Pete had been a cancer patient for over 20 years. First, he had prostate cancer, then he lost a kidney to cancer, and in the end he had lung cancer. He also had Alzheimer’s.

About an hour after hanging up with his doctor they received a call from Angela Hospice. Soon after that someone came to her mom’s house to explain what hospice was and what it had to offer.

“At first my mom was not really for it because she had a lot of faith in my dad’s doctor,” said Cathy, who had no prior hospice experience. “Finally, I said, ‘You know, Ma, we’ve been blessed. He hasn’t been really sick. The last treatments that he had they told us that he was going to lose his appetite. That this was going to happen, that was going to happen. None of those things happened.’

“I said, ‘Let’s do this and see what happens,’” Cathy continued. “So we did.”

Pete’s house quickly turned into his home care center, where he would be for about three months before passing in March. Pete’s nurse, Bonnie, who Cathy spoke volumes about, would come out to the house once a week, as did an aide that came out twice a week. No matter when they came though, Cathy’s family knew someone was always just a phone call away, like when her mom discovered a “cancer outburst” on Pete’s back. She quickly called Angela Hospice and Bonnie showed up right away. Cathy’s mom also had a really hard time filling the syringes so Bonnie would help her.

“She prepared us for everything,” Cathy said about Bonnie, even when Pete was going to die.

After seeing a decline in his health Bonnie told Cathy that it looked like he had about three weeks left. This came as a shock to Cathy and her family because he still seemed fine. He was eating, he still knew everybody, and he was still walking and playing on the floor with his grandkids.

But Bonnie was right. Pete died right around the time she had told Cathy he would.

“My mom said the night before he died he was talking to every one of his kids and grandkids and singing,” she said. “There were no signs that he was on his way out.”

Some photos from Pete's We Honor Veterans Ceremony.
The next morning though her mom heard him trying to get out of his bed, which he eventually did. Cathy said that he went out into the hallway and then laid down softly. Her mom then called hospice, Bonnie showed up, and he was pronounced dead. Bonnie and Cathy’s brother-in-law moved Pete back into his bed so he looked like he was sleeping. Cathy said that since Pete was made so comfortable it made it a little easier for her to say good-bye because she didn’t see him suffer.

“We all got to say our final goodbyes,” Cathy said. “It was just amazing.”

Another amazing experience for Cathy and her family was during Pete’s We Honor Veterans ceremony, which almost didn’t happen.

The day that his ceremony was originally scheduled for Pete wasn’t feeling well so Cathy called Angela Hospice volunteer John Stern – who spearheaded the program at Angela Hospice with his wife, Lucy – to reschedule. John told her many people say they’re going to call back but they either don’t or it’s too late when they finally do. Luckily, Cathy did call back in time and they were able to perform the ceremony for Pete’s family, including his sister and her husband – who retired from the military – and Cathy was so glad they did. They also had a veteran’s service for him at his funeral.

“It was awesome,” she said. “I think any veteran deserves to be recognized.”

Another person who deserves to be recognized: her mom, who took care of Pete along with help from Cathy and her sisters. Her mom’s determination to take care of Pete as long as she could also played a part in why they chose to use home care instead of using some form of assisted living.

“At 80 years old, trying to care for somebody like that could be challenging,” Cathy said. “In fact, I tell her all the time that she did an immaculate job.”

It seems like they all did, including Cathy, who didn’t need those notes after all.

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