Pro EFT Master, Certified Havening Practitioner
Leaving On Friday
Pearl was tall, lean, and tanned to the point of old leather. She lived alone in a house her husband built in 1939. She was 97 years old and still drove her old Buick if the weather was bad, but preferred to walk.
Her home was paid for and there was little she wanted anymore. She was proud of her 50 year old, well-kept garden in the backyard that brimmed with vegetables and flowers. She fed the birds and shared her vegetables with the neighbors. She was happy and
content. When she needed help with anything she called her niece, Rebecca. So the day Pearl called Rebecca wasn't unusual, but her request was.
Pearl said, "Rebecca, it's time for me to go up to the hospice house because I'm dying and I don't want to die at home, it might scare Jasper." With her next breath Pearl asked if Rebecca would take Jasper to live with her.
Rebecca was stunned. Pearl was her only living relative and she hadn't known her aunt to joke about important subjects. She knew Pearl was very serious if she was trying to give Jasper away. Jasper was Pearl's devoted companion, her confidant, her foot warmer, her treasured tuxedo cat. Rebecca suggested that they first go to Pearl's doctor just in case she was mistaken. Pearl agreed but told her to get an appointment quickly because she wasn't going to wait past Friday.
Rebecca took Pearl to the doctor Monday afternoon. Her Aunt had lost weight in the last 6 months and her blood test, the doctor said, did not look good. The doctor decided that considering her age, weight and her new symptoms, she did qualify for hospice care. The hospice house was a great option, especially since Pearl lived alone.
Pearl moved into the hospice house Tuesday after she had made sure her neighbors would keep her garden watered and she had taken Jasper to Rebecca's home. She was made comfortable in her room. I came in to meet her and to take care of all the paperwork a patient has to sign to be enrolled in hospice. At the hospice house we often receive patients who are acutely sick, but Pearl was different in so many ways. Pearl had driven herself to the hospice house, had walked in unassisted, and was happy to be there.
One of the many duties of my job as a social worker is to complete a personal assessment of new hospice patients and identify where they are from, how involved her family is, what their beliefs are, and how can we, the staff of hospice, make her as comfortable as possible. I then do my best to communicate those needs to the staff. We strive to be the support team honoring all beliefs without trying to influence or change them. I try to establish trust as quickly as possible with anyone new. Often medical conditions change very fast and families can be overwhelmed. I am a guide through this process, but to do my job well I have to know who the patient is and how they are coping.
So I wanted to know how much Pearl actually understood what was happening to her. I wanted to know how we, the hospice staff, could reduce anxiety and stress and how we could support and honor her individual journey. I asked Pearl if she understood where she was. Pearl told me not only where she was, but the exact address and what the field looked like before the hospice house had been built. She was definitely alert and oriented, fully understanding everything going on. Pearl told me about her life, who she knew in the community and that she had made her living as a lumber mill secretary. She told me she loved her precious cat Jasper, who was 15 years old. He was the last in a long line of big, male black-and-white tuxedo cats she had owned.
She said she was done with her life and it was time to go. "Time to go? What do you mean by that?" I asked. Pearl replied, "Can I trust you to believe me?"I assured her that I could be trusted, that's why I had this job. She looked sternly at me as if she was measuring what I said. Her face softened and she settled into the big comfortable chair she was sitting in and then she told me why she had come to the hospice house.
She said, "Sunday morning I was tending my garden and I heard my husband calling. She smiled and continued, I don't want to sound crazy but that is exactly what I heard. I said, `Yes Jim, I'm right over here,' like I had so many times before his death. Then I heard him say.... It's time Pearl." Pearl said, "I liked to jump out of my skin when I heard that, so I left the garden and went inside where Jasper was sleeping in the sun on the couch. I walked into the kitchen and I heard another voice and this time it sounded like my sister June, and she said, 'Pearl, it's going to be fun. It's time for you to come on over and join the party.'"
After that Pearl said she poured herself a cup of coffee and sat at the kitchen table thinking and listening for other familiar voices. She said she could hear strange conversations but she couldn't make out what they were saying. She dropped her head a little and said, "I haven't been feeling very well lately. My chest has been hurting more than normal, so Jim and June coming for me didn't seem out of line. That's why I picked up the phone and called Rebecca."
You won't believe what happens next.... email Joanne at firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase a signed copy of Dying to Live, Embracing the Journey, to find out what happens to Pearl and read more inspiring true life experiences. Or call (530) 598-6530.