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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My Hospice Journal - The Blessings of One Tomato

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On Tuesday's I go visit my sweet hospice patient. He's only the fourth hospice patient I've had so far, but the first one who does not have any kind of debilitating illness that causes him not to be able to communicate, coherently anyway. He is very lucid and talks endlessly about his life's journey, his wife (who he lost quite a few years ago) and always before I leave, brings up his garden. He isn't able to tend to it much these days, but his family helps him out. Every week before I leave he tells me to go check to see if there's a ripened tomato for me to take home. I gladly oblige, since I am a big tomato lover and all my tomatoes have been involuntarily given to all the squirrels in our neighborhood!!!

Yesterday's visit was, again, sweet and wonderful. I could tell he was a bit more tired than usual but it didn't stop him from telling me more about his life, and even throwing in a joke or two. After lying on the couch for awhile I watched as he was safely transferred to his favorite chair. The process of moving him just a couple of feet took about five minutes and visibly wore him out completely. After he was all situated in his chair, he looked up at me as if to subtly say, "I'm tired and this is starting to kinda suck."

This afternoon I got a message that my sweet hospice patient passed away. Reconnected with his wife, disconnected from any and all medical equipment, and happily tending to the biggest garden he's ever seen... I couldn't help but smile through my tears. 

I cherish the blessings I've been given to share in these patients' lives, if only for a very short time. I have loved each and every one of my hospice patients and have asked them to say a prayer for all of us as we continue our life's journey here on earth.

As for tomorrow, I plan to cherish this last tomato, slice by slice, thinking of my friend and looking forward to the next patient to bless my life.

R.I.P. sweet man. I will miss you.