Why We Exist
The mornings are always the best part of my days. That’s when I go and visit each of our residents. There are times when residents will be sound asleep, or in the tub room, soaking in a warm bath with calm, relaxing music playing on the stereo in the background. But the times I enjoy the most are when I am invited to share in the stories of a resident’s life and learn more about them and their journey at Agapé Hospice.
I will never forget the morning I first met John. When I walked into his room, he greeted me with a smile that was so welcoming and kind. In that moment it was hard to believe he was nearing the end of his life. John shared with me about the difficult decision to come to Agapé. Being a strong, independent and, at times, “stubborn” man, having to rely on others for care was a foreign concept. But, he quickly reassured me that his anxiety and hesitation were already put to rest. In the two days following his arrival, John felt like he was “truly home.” John delighted in the home cooked meals, especially the desserts, and the attentiveness of every individual who came to see him. His family had peace of mind knowing he was well taken care of and he felt so at home and at peace.
It wasn’t long into his stay that John reconfigured his room to include a “reception area.” Our rooms on average are the same size as a junior office in a 10 storey building, not super large, so creating a “reception area” was no easy feat. But being able to transform his hospice room into his “home” complete with his favourite chair, a crème coloured worn leather recliner, and matching ottoman, was something that brought joy to all of us working that day. He was able to maneuver his TV into one corner of the room, his dresser into another corner, and his hospital bed was pushed against a wall which faced opposite to an east window that would brightly shine and fill the room with warmth on sunny days. The maneuvering worked out like a game of Tetris and as you opened the door to his room, you were greeted by a perfect little sitting area, with room for a bedside table, a folding chair, and of course his favourite recliner. Our morning ritual always began with John asking me to take a seat in his reception area. John would sit at the end of the bed, and I in his favorite chair brought from home. Our conversations were so varied: books, sports, the playful squirrels in the garden, and yet they always ended in the same way. John would grab a hold of my hand, look me in the eye and say, “Thank you, to all of you, for all you do, this is such a wonderful place.”
The morning before John died I went into his room to find his daughter keeping vigil in the infamous reception chair. I knew this was likely the last time I would be in John’s sacred reception space. Being minimally responsive, I was not sure whether John would know I was in the room. To my surprise he squeezed my hand as he did during our morning visits. In that moment, I had no words to express the gratitude that I felt and the privilege of knowing this man, even for only a short time.
I have many of these encounters…I feel blessed to be in a place where the people that we love and serve also fill our hearts and spirit.
– Sarah Foster, Nursing Lead