You never know what you're going to get when you read this blog. Last week’s post was rather upbeat, at least Tom Turkey and I think so. Today, I’d like you to indulge me a personal moment for a change. While sorting through some files, I came across a letter I wrote and delivered to the hospital on the day of my wife’s death almost six years ago. After thinking it over, I decided I wanted to share it with you. So as I say … indulge me a moment.
At 6:30 a.m. on February 12, 2009, my beloved wife of almost 51 years lost a four-month battle with pneumonia, renal failure, and exhaustion. In an effort to express our appreciation to the staff of Kindred Hospital who had cared for her in those final weeks, I wrote and delivered the following letter that same day. Then we all had a good cry together.
We would like to thank you for the care and courtesy you extended Betty and me, our family, and the friends who visited during her stay there—including, of course, Gizmo, the little white Papillion. We will each have our say here, but first, I would like to channel Betty’s thoughts as she would express them were she able:
Hello, to all of you. You are an extraordinary group of people: professional, competent, but most important to me … caring and compassionate. You did your very best for me, and I am sorry I was not strong enough to allow you to see more positive results from your efforts. Alas, I wasn’t. Too old and weak from my illness, I guess. But my family and I will always remember that you were there for me, offering your best care, always delivered with respect and, I like to think, fondness.
Even though I have slipped away, please let my feelings spur you to offer the same level of professional and personal treatment to others who may better benefit from them. You mend broken bodies, ease tortured minds, and provide an environment where the soul is nurtured. Always, always remember this and take pride in it. Goodbye, thank you, and God bless.
Now, may I, Donald, add my opinion. I echo Betty’s thoughts and feelings about Kindred and its staff, both professional and administrative. During the nine or so weeks my wife was under your care, I received the utmost support from everyone I met. My requests were honored; my wife was well tended…and adored. You made it easy to admit her, gave her excellent medical care, helped me wend my way through the financial morass, nourished me in your excellent cafeteria, and showed concern for me while I sat with Betty every day she was with you. This includes everyone from the medics to the maintenance personnel. In other words, you delivered human compassion in addition to professional care. When it was obvious the end was near, we made it known we wanted Betty to die at Kindred among friends, not at some hospice in the midst of strangers.
Most of you met my son and his wife, and both have often commented on the extraordinary care Betty was receiving. They were made to feel their opinions were as important as mine. And for this, we all thank you. The guests who came to see my wife were also favorably impressed. We cannot all be wrong. As far as we are concerned, the evidence is in: you are a very special group of people. And in this, we are joined by Gizmo, whom everyone met at one time or the other, including some of your patients.
Once again, thank you for the care, concern, and love bestowed upon our family in an extremely difficult time of our lives. We will remember it forever. God bless you for your humanity. Please share this effort to express our gratitude with everyone at the hospital.
From the bottom of our hearts,
Thank you, as well, for letting me share this with you. Intensely personal … yet pretty universal.
As always, thanks for reading.
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