A Volunteer’s View
We are honored to share a short essay from Barb M, one of our amazing hospice volunteers. Barb gave us permission to share her story recapping her first shift at the new Pete Moore Hospice House.
I walked into the building at noon, carrying my new copy of “Capitol Dames”, just in case there would be nothing for me to do on my 3-hour Sunday afternoon shift as a volunteer at the new Pete Moore Hospice House.
After introducing myself to Anna, the nurse, and Ellen, the aide, I was given a quick tour of the kitchen and food storage areas. As soon as I asked Anna what they would like me do, I found myself on my way to visiting a patient in the last room at the end of the hall.
Sensing my presence in the doorway, she opened her eyes and silently watched as I stepped into her room and walked toward the bed. While leaning over to tell her my name and ask if I could do anything for her, I touched her hand; and she slowly moved her fingers around mine. Her steady gaze followed me as I set down my cane, moved the straight-backed chair from the corner to her bedside & took her hand again.
The view through the window was of a dreary gray February sky, dormant trees, and a little pond and waterfall behind the newly-constructed Hospice House. But the atmosphere inside her room was cozy and peaceful, with a recliner and a comfy couch on either side of the bed and framed family photos, a fuzzy stuffed animal, and a vase of colorful fresh flowers on the fireplace mantle.
I had never met this lovely lady and was feeling unsure of how to spend time keeping company with some-one who was unable to speak. I couldn’t ask about the numerous photos of her family or whether she wanted me to read to her or turn on the T.V. In the last days of her life, talking about the latest news or telling her about my family or favorite books and movies certainly seemed inappropriate. But she seemed alert and continued looking directly into my eyes.
So for the next hour we held hands and quietly watched the moving flames of the electric fireplace, the sound of her uneven breathing filling the silence. She will probably never know that she gave me a gift that afternoon – one of being in the present moment.
Our stellar hospice volunteers support the Pete Moore Hospice House and our home hospice staff in providing outstanding patient care. To find out more about being a hospice volunteer, visit Our Hospice Volunteer Page.