This is Margaret. Margaret is one of my hospice patients.
Margaret loves to chat about her past life as an “desert rat.” She talks about how her dad would collect snakes to sell. A rattle snake was worth 20 dollars. She talked about a dress she made that she was very proud of and said her mother was the best in the world. Margaret has multiple middle names. One of her names means “sewer.” She has dementia so carrying on a conversation can be interesting but she does love visitors and socializing. She also loves to listen to the radio. One day I started singing a nursery rhyme and she happily joined right in. It was a wonderful discovery that I could say/sing something she could relate to or remember. Margaret said she couldn’t go to school but her friend brought her books back from school and lent them to her. She loved books and dreamed of being a librarian. She’s blind now so I read her “Daily Bread” to her that is delivered from her church. She really enjoys it. She likes to hold things so I bought her a teddy bear from Goodwill. It’s very soft so it won’t hurt her extremely fragile skin. She can’t get out of bed anymore but she’s near a window. There’s peacocks out that window and they make a noise when they hear her singing. We think they think she’s a peacock. If you heard her singing you’d understand! :) She has a vase full of peacock feathers next to her bed. I have some now too from the owner of the group home where she lives. They are on my mantel and they remind me of Margaret.
This is a little bit of what it’s like to be a hospice nurse. I don’t know why I’ve been so blessed to be a part of my patient’s lives. I appreciate it though. I hope that if you ever have a chance to sit with someone who is in their final stages that you do. The moments that you share are truly priceless. Life gets stripped down to the important things at this stage. Material things don’t matter anymore. You see beauty in the every day things. You appreciate what you’ve been given and every day you wake up is a blessing to cherish. You connect with loved ones. You give love and receive love in a way that is truly magical. When my patients grab my hand and tell me they love me I believe it. I know they do- I can feel it.
“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.
One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in my pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.”
~Mary Jean Iron