Please, don’t quit reading this because of the subject. Maybe it will help someone…some day. I would have up until three months ago. I would turn away Hospice ads on TV. I would listen to others whose loved ones were being cared for by Hospice services, but I didn’t question or want to hear details. I would listen to my niece, Debbie Frahm , who is a Hospice social worker in Phoenix, and I would marvel at her dedication and passion to offer assistance to those in need, but, I seldom asked questions. Hospice equaled death to me. I simply did not want to talk about it. Then, in August, my dear Mother, whom I cared for in my home since 2013 after I lost my Dad, required hospitalization and toe amputation due to peripheral artery disease. She was tough; she came home after nine days in the hospital. She slowly recovered; she tapped into her strong will and reservoir of strength, but Mom was tired. She had amazing post-hospitalization care provided by Caring First, Interium, Kelly Barnes, and her best friend, Claudia…in-home check-ups, therapy, wound care, but she didn’t want to go to follow-up doctors’ appointments. She was not ambulatory; she just wanted to be home. It became increasingly apparent that Mom’s time on Earth was short, but she defied all odds that indicated she was nearing life’s end. Her vital signs were always perfect…blood pressure, oxygen, heart, lungs, temperature! Her mind was sharp, and she astounded everyone with her keen memory. Mom did have some hallucinatory spells resulting from her pain meds, but she rebounded and exhibited her sense of humor and loving, caring heart. She was beautiful and sweet and sometimes quite ornery! She was perfect in my eyes. She ate and drank well and always appreciated visits from the kids and grandkids. But, yes, Mom was tired. Although I gave everything I could to care for Mom, including help from my kids, I knew I needed something more. I knew I could no longer face losing my Mom without more help….help for Mom and me. One of my nurse friends and a therapist suggested Loving Hearts Hospice and Palliative Care services. After a particularly emotional day with Mom, I called Jamie Waples-Osborne, the director/owner of Loving Hearts. From the first moment I spoke with her on the phone, I knew I had done the right thing; I cried as I spoke with her. From that moment on, not only was Mom lovingly cared for, but so was I. So much emotion. Although the stark realization that I was losing Mom smacked me in the face, I also felt relief. Loving Hearts, Jamie and nurse Andrea Rodgers were truly angels. They understood everything….physical, emotional needs of Mom, me and my family. They were always just a call away for every question, every need. Andrea would pop in if I had a particular concern. Mom loved them. Mom was doing well, and I was doing better. Then, on the evening of October 18, Mom was ready to leave us. I was not ready to lose her. She had eaten well that night. Strangely enough, I had made one of her favorite meals, and she ate everything plus apple pie from David Hurd, who often sent food for her. She watched TV and was very comfortable. At 9:25 p.m. I got her freshened up and ready for bed. Her fireplace was glowing, Yankee candle was burning, her kitty on her bed. I turned off the lights and sat beside her and gave her my usual good night kiss. She didn’t say anything, but took my hand. I noticed her forehead was perspiring. I wrapped my arm around her to prop her up. I said, “Are you ok, Mom?” She just looked at me with those doe-like, beautiful brown eyes and coughed one soft cough. I offered her water. She said, “No honey, I can’t swallow it.” I laid her back, kept my arm around her, held her hand. Then, in her usual eloquent style, she closed her eyes, breathed a soft breath and left me; it was 9:51 p.m….she was almost 95 years old. My mind went into immediate disbelief and horror mode, but I knew just what to do. I remembered, “Don’t call 911, Judy. Don’t call funeral home. Here’s the number. Call this number. We will take care of everything.” I called it. I called my kids. Andrea was there in minutes; so perfect that she was on-call that night. She was so compassionate, so caring. She cried with us but remained professional. Yes, Loving Hearts took care of everything. I will never regret caring for my dear Betty Rose. I will forever be grateful to Loving Hearts, Jamie, and Andrea for truly providing the love, understanding and support not only needed for Mom, but for me and my family, as well. I still get follow up letters, cards, text messages, and calls checking on me and my family’s well-being…offering continued support. I hope you never have to use Hospice services, but, if you decide you need help, do not hesitate to call Loving Hearts or a Hospice service near you. They understand what you need. They understand your heart. They definitely have Loving Hearts. As we say goodbye to 2018, I must thank them again for giving my sweet Betty Rose a dignified, comfortable exit from this world and for giving me the peace of mind that I could do no more; I had done my best, and they did the rest. I can welcome 2019 with some peace in my heart so I can carry on and establish a new normal taking care of myself. Thank you, Loving Hearts. For those of you who stayed with this long post, thank you, too. So many of you have helped me, as well. This is not meant to be a post of sadness, but rather a message of hope, love, and life. I wish you all a Happy New Year…from my loving heart to yours.


Posted on Facebook 1/1/2019

Judy Butler-Reese