Every so often, I send a ‘thank you’ to someone for a special kindness or some other effort worth recognition. Not so much a note, but as you would expect, a letter. In most cases a note just doesn’t give me enough space to say all that needs to be said. (Every time I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, I think of my buddy Betsy who is the Queen of high-volume and well done thank you’s. She has single handedly revived this sadly fading art.)
I’m trying to play catch up with correspondence to well-deserving folks who made the last few months bearable (i.e. last week’s letters to Pete and Bob) for me, my family and, of course, my dad. Yesterday was one of those instances. The target was at the very top of my must-write list: the nurses and staff at Odyssey Health Care in Omaha who played the key role in helping my father make a painless, comfortable and dignified passing. The letter is addressed to the lead hospice nurse who first counseled my dad on the realities of the situation and what he could expect. She was a gem. They all were.
My one regret with hospice was that, in my addled state of mind, I neglected to record the name of each of the nurses who, in turn, sat with us, tended caringly for dad, and supplied huge amounts of physical and mental relief. The letter sent July 15 is shown below.
And just below that ‘thank you’ is today’s letter to my mother. She’s having a tough go of things, and the intent of this letter is much the same as all the others she and dad received over the years: assure her that things will be okay, keep her spirits up, and remind her she is in my thoughts and prayers.
July 15, 2010
Su: My father, Ralph Bradley, passed away on June 28 at Lakeside while under the care of your Odyssey hospice nurses, and I couldn’t let the chance go by to thank all of you for what a wonderful, caring job your staff did for him.
From the first time we met with you, it was just a good experience. No punches were pulled, and there was no gray area on your explanation that your goal was a comfortable, painless – and to me, dignified – end. You accomplished that on all scores. We should all be so fortunate to pass on in such a painless manner.
I wish I knew all the names of the nurses involved. Kristin (sp?) is the one name I recall, but there were others, too. It was incredible how you all handled a grieving family with a dying father and you made that portion of the journey much easier for us. For that, I am very grateful.
Yours is the job you could not pay me enough money to do, but your special breed of staff appears to have the empathy and compassion that enables you to treat each patient in the manner they deserve. Thanks again for all you did for my dad.
Charlotte, North Carolina
July 16, 2010
Mom: I hope this finds you well and able to tough out the summer heat. Omaha doesn’t have anything on Charlotte on that score. You walk outside here and you sweat. That’s just the way it is. We have to deal with it in these parts.
Some ground squirrels are doing a number on my tomatoes. If I had my wits about me – and dad’s pellet gun – we could do something about it. But I’m full of bluster and will probably let them chomp away. I’ve raised some of the low hanging vines off the ground and perhaps that will deter them from making a mess of my tomato crop. At least they’re eating the small ones. Heck, they’re all small tomatoes.
I sent a note the other morning to the staff at hospice to thank them for the job they did with dad. They really knew what they were doing, and they made him as comfortable as they possibly could, and I think that deserved at least a short letter with our gratitude. They really did things in the best possible way, and for that we ought to be very thankful.
Neither of the kids has said a peep this past week. I guess Ellen has texted me once or twice. Her 27th birthday is coming up here in a week. She feels pretty old but I told her to get a grip and tell someone who cares because that wouldn’t be me. Some of us are way ahead of her on the age thing. She’s doing pretty well.
It’s good that you and Henry have had a chance to talk. They now have the direct line to the Glen so I suspect he’s going to be a regular visit by phone with you. He seems to be holding his own, although he and Mary are very concerned about your well being, as we all are. Keep your chin up.
Watched a little bit of the British Open this morning as I ate my standard breakfast of cereal and South Carolina peaches, and the golfers were having their way with the course. I don’t understand how they can hit it so far and so straight every single time. And then when they have a short shot, they stick it right next to the pin. Even Tiger is doing okay on the course. I’ll try to play this weekend but something tells me my results won’t be nearly as good.
Had dinner with Betsy and Bob last Friday night, and both inquired about how you are doing. I told them pretty well under the circumstances. They are both pretty good souls and good buddies of mine. I hear you’ve had some visitors there, too. I’m glad your friends are stopping by to tell you hello.
Well, I’d better go and get some work done. One thing you can count on around here is yet another conference call. But that’s okay. Better to have a call rather than none.