COLUMN: Making every last moment count

Published 7:30 am Saturday, March 23, 2024

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Not every one that passes from this life to the next has the opportunity to utilize hospice. My daddy was one of these individuals. My daddy died many years ago, and I was not a decision-maker in his final days. He passed from this life to the next in the hospital; though he was well cared for, my daddy loved his tiny home. It smelled like him; It looked like him. It was his safe place. I wish we could have taken him home, but I feel when he passed, he had peace, and even if hospice was not considered, I did what any daughter would do – I loved him till the end.

Vickie Wacaster, Patient and Hospice Advocate with Aveanna Hospice (formerly Comfort Care Hospice)

As I’ve thought about my daddy through the years since his death, it has helped me realize material things though nice to have and use – mean little to a person as they pass to the end. Daddy left my sisters and me so much more than possessions. Daddy had a joy for living and believed people should laugh daily – even if it meant laughing at themselves. He believed that when you heard good music, you should dance, tap your feet, clap your hands, snap your fingers, and sing along. He believed people would rather hear a good story than hear about your troubles, and he always seemed to have a good story to share or joke to tell. He taught us that we were only as good as our word and should always tell the truth. Daddy always said that if we wanted to help ourselves, we should begin by helping someone else. He believed in hard work and living within your means. He never owned a credit card, a cell phone, or a new car. He loved to watch things grow and only bought items from the grocery store that he couldn’t grow in his garden. My daddy was not a perfect man. He lived on this earth and had good days, bad days, hard times, fun times, and I’m sure, like most of us, days he’d like to forget.

There are some things about death that we don’t know or understand. On my last night with Daddy, I laid my head on his pillow and sang him the songs he sang to my sisters and me when we were little girls. I told him I loved him and hoped to see him again one day. I told him I knew he had to go, and I encouraged him not to be afraid of this unknown journey because it was a journey many had made before and one we would all have to make one day. I kissed my daddy goodbye and walked out into the night, knowing that life is about living and making all your moments matter.

We will forever carry the memories of our loved ones in our hearts. Our job now is to make good memories for others to have. Celebrate the life that was, and celebrate the life that is now.

Please consider hospice to help you get your loved ones home. You’ll never regret taking them home. To quote George Moore, “A man travels the world in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”

— Vickie C. Wacaster is a Patient and Hospice Advocate for Aveanna Hospice.