It was Tuesday morning on October 18th. The wind was cold and seemed to have picked up strength early that day, as if to give warning of the wet, sloppy snowflakes that would cover us later that afternoon. I walked across the Truman House parking lot feeling the wind on my face and made my way to my office, where the warmth of conversations filling the hallways had a welcoming sense of familiarity. Working in New Philadelphia at The Truman House, Community Hospice has never felt like work, per se. It’s more of an environment where family is and where family meets.
This morning, while I didn’t know it at the time, was going to be a moment where I understood just how much The Truman house is where family comes together.
A light knock on my office door and a warm voice asks if they can come in. It was Joan Albrecht, the Patient and Family Liaison at Community Hospice.
“Could you help me to print off an image of a recipe card for me?” she asks.
I opened up the email that contained the recipe card while listening to the story of Iris, a woman who had blessed not only her family, but her community with her famous raisin-filled cookies.
“We’re working together with Iris’ daughter to create a gift of the framed recipe card as something that Iris can give to her family. These cookies were her favorite, and what everyone in her family looked forward to during special occasions.”
The recipe was a clipping, browned with age, taped onto a Betty Crocker notecard. “Filling on Back” was written in the most exquisite of cursive handwriting, so that both parts of the recipe could be found.
Seeing the cursive, I asked Joan, “Could we see if she would write a small note to go with the framed respice card?”
Joan smiled as we walked the hallways toward the IPU, and explained to me that Iris was staying only for a little while, and that she was going back to her house that afternoon, once transportation was ready. Faint sounds of laughter and conversations became easier to hear as we approached Iris’ room. She and her pastor, Jim Manbeck of Roxford United Methodist Church, were sharing stories and one another’s company.
Iris was sitting up in bed and smiled as we entered the room. She continued her story with her pastor as we settled in.
Iris had a smile that told the charismatic stories and soft beautiful eyes that when she looked at you, it felt like the warmth and familiarity of a grandmother’s hug.
Joan reminded Iris about her special raisin filled cookie recipe. Iris smiled like a sunrise and began to share how even the bank tellers at the First National Bank of Dennison couldn’t wait for her to even get out of her car on bake sale days so that they could buy her raisin filled cookies. “Oh, everyone just loved them,” Iris insisted. “And they aren’t easy to make, you know?”
When asked if she would write a note for her family to go with the framed recipe, Iris showed a moment of hesitation. She shared that her hands didn’t work the way she wanted them to. “The spoon doesn’t go where I want it and it’s hard to keep a grip on it. I don’t know if I can write but I can try.”
Pillows were gently placed to bolster the arms and hands that had hugged and held family members for decades. A clipboard with a blank piece of paper rested on her lap, and a pen in hand.
And then a quiet miracle happened.
Iris began to write in the most beautiful cursive. The movement of her pen was like watching an orchestra conductor leading a love song. “We have had a lot of food and fun together. May God take care of all youin’s. Your Mother, Iris.”
As I tried to say thank you all I could think to say was “You are just like my grandma was.” I hadn’t realized that there were tears in my eyes, just as wet and sloppy as the weather outside. Wiping them away, I gave Iris a thank you as Joan and I left her room.
With the very special handwritten note, the recipe cards, and a picture of Iris that her daughter had given Joan, the framed gift was created as a sweet memento for Iris’ family to have for many years to come.
The creation of the framed gift was just one of thousands of patient experiences that have happened at Community Hospice, through the generosity of Betty’s Gift Fund, a quiet, yet instrumental part of what makes Community Hospice like no other Hospice.
Betty’s Gift Fund was initially created over a decade ago with the intention to honor the hospitality and generosity of long term supporters of Community Hospice, Dan and Betty Drabik.
Through this fund, patients are given unique, positive experiences that bring family together.
Possibilities are endless of how Betty's Gift Fund is used for patient experiances. In one instance, The Truman House Clinical Team created an ocean-beach experience in the Truman House Courtyard. Others have framed mementos created while another patient was given the ability to be near horses and embrace the warmth of an empathetic animal. When a loved one is experiencing a long term illness or end of life care, Community Hospice strives to allow families to have the freedom to focus on eachother, while allowing staff to assist with the details that may cause higher levels of stress and distraction. Betty’s Gift fund is a way to offer patients and their loved ones an opportunity to be mother and daughter, husband and wife, siblings with siblings; an environment where family is and where family meets.
For information about Community Hospice and/or Betty’s Gift Fund please contact:
Call: 1-800-947-7284 Visit: WWW.MYHOSPICE.ORG Email: HOSPICE@MYHOSPICE.ORG
Serving Tuscarawas, Stark, Carroll, Columbiana, Coshocton, Holmes, Harrison, Mahoning and surrounding counties!