16 March 2021
It has been six weeks since my father, Merle W., passed away at Delmar Gardens North. I am still processing everything but thanks to your amazing care team that was assigned to him, I am healing. I wanted to write to you as a company and let you know some of my experiences with those my father interacted with and whom I had contact.
He had three terrific nurses, Kristina, Maggie and Jen. I can’t say enough good things about each and everyone of them. Kristina, my father called “his angel.” She went above and beyond her job in so many ways. She got him through Covid-19, which was more of a mental struggle with my dad in isolation than it was a physical one. I was incredibly sad when she moved, but I was very thankful he had a year and a half with her. Dad loved her. Dad thrived under her care. I have no doubt she is the number one reason he lived a year and a half longer than the hospital doctors estimated. She kept me informed of his status, listened to my concerns and helped guide me through each step treating me more like a dear friend than a client. I miss her. Maggie was with him for around two to three months. She stepped in gently (having giant shoes to fill) and was sweet and kind and tried to fill the emptiness of Kristina. She kept me informed from day one respecting my requests for information. She was upfront telling me that she was temporary and I appreciated that so I could prepare my dad who felt so lost and depressed without Kristina. I appreciated her honesty. Then there was Jen. She swept in fast like a hawk, took control of everything quickly and immediately earned my dad’s respect and trust. I wish I could have met her. She was upfront with me, didn’t hold back or gloss things over per my request) and my dad loved her, so I did too. She watched over him during his final days. She made him comfortable when he had pain. She reached out to Dr. Schmidt when I requested it. She was a no hands back force that everyone should be so lucky to have in their final days. Please don’t misunderstand me, she did it all with grace and care and utmost respect for him and me. I am grateful for her!
Beyond the phenomenal nursing staff, there was Dr. Schmidt. She kept my informed for two long years. I felt as if I always knew where my dad stood with both the hospice system and his health. She never made me feel as if she was rushed (even though sometimes she was) to get in and out, she always took time… even if I had a question in the hall passing her. She quickly connected me with my father so I always felt comfortable just starting the conversation, not having to say his name. She put me at ease from the first patient care meeting. She called me when needed. More than one person on the hospice team told me that my dad was fortunate to have her. They all said that the other doctors were good, but that she was the best. If her team viewed her that way, I knew my dad was in great hands. I am honored she was my father’s final doctor.
Angie, his aide, I only met a few short times but my dad often spoke of her and how much he liked her. They developed a friendship. He depended on her. He missed her on her days off. She was worth her weight in gold.
Daryn and Ed, his two Chaplin’s, had a real tough cookie to crack. My dad was not a deeply religious person. He believed in God but question his own faith. He was very uncomfortable with discussing life but even more so death. Daryn was with him at the very beginning of his hospice journey and connected with dad through music. He was also very kind and sympathetic with me following dad’s passing. Ed was able to ease concerns and helped me understand him better. I was very thankful Ed was willing to perform my dad’s service. He walked up a hill, in the snow, and made our family feel very special.
Kelly (and Katie) who helped him with massage, I did not interact with myself but my father sure appreciated them every time they came. I know it helped with his anxiety as it was the one thing besides bingo that he did not want to miss. So, their work was appreciated.
Then there was the remarkable Lindsay. There aren’t enough positive words in the English language to say about her. From day one, she was amazing. She contacted me monthly and I wasn’t the best conversationalist. She eased me in. She let me think I was leading each of our sessions but now I know she had it all under control from the start. As my dad progressed through his disease her calls came more frequently. She took me under her wing as a mother bird would do. She provided comfort in a time of turmoil and uncertainty. And that was before Covid. After Covid hit, she not only did her job but did mine as a daughter as well. She filled bird feeders, brought ice and I don’t know how many chocolate shakes, delivered newspapers, adjusted pillows, fixed his TV, changed batteries, watered plants, and so much more. She was there, and I mean really THERE. Anyone would think my dad was her only client, her only focus, her father. She was nurturing, funny, sweet, devoted, and well… really, really good at her job. I couldn’t be where I am today without her.
And finally, there was Robyn (sorry, but I don’t know the correct spelling of her name) who called faithfully once a month to check on the team itself. She has the nicest voice and a great demeanor. She always asked if it was a good time to talk, left a pleasant message if I couldn’t get to the phone and followed up if I requested something during one of our phone meetings.
So, a great big Thank You to the entire Pathways team that served my family and my father for the past two years. I wrote a few individual notes that I hope that you will pass out when it is convenient. I apologize I do not know everyone’s last names because I only know the ones who gave business cards to my dad. After a search, I found Kristina so her card is not included.
With extreme gratitude,
Merle W.’s daughter