I first met Pat in May of 2019. I visited Pat over 9 times this summer, my last visit just two days before he passed away on August 23, 2019.When we were first introduced, we shook hands, and I remarked how his full name sounded so distinguished; he chuckled, looked at me and said “just call me Pat.” From that day forward, he was “just Pat.”Most all of our visits involved discussions about his boyhood on the farm, enlisting in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, and starting his own family and farming after the war. Pat liked to talk about growing up on the farm with his brothers and sisters, and the times they would go swimming in the Skunk River on hot days. Pat told this story,“Sometimes when the water was high, you had to be really careful because you might step in a hole and go under or get your foot caught in a submerged tree branch. We all looked out for each other, but one day when my brothers and I were ‘dunking’ each other, I held my brother down under the water so he couldn’t come back up; boy was he squirming and kicking around. But you know, I wouldn’t let anybody drown, I was just fooling around with him, so I pulled him back up, and boy was he mad. He told my Dad what I had done.”When I visited Pat, I always wore my Veterans of Foreign Wars uniform shirt and service cap. It was on my third visit to Pat, I had just come through the door into a long hallway leading to a small lounging area with bookshelves and a sofa. There, sitting by himself, was Pat. He looked up, saw me, held up his arm and said in a loud voice, “You coming to see me?” I said, “Yes, I am,” as he waved me on back and said, “Have a seat.” We shook hands and I asked him how he was feeling today. He replied while laughing, “Feeling fine and still kicking.” We started visiting and it wasn’t too long before another Air Force veteran joined us. On a previous visit, I had brought two large hardcover books with colored photos of planes of WWII and the Korean War for Pat and me to look at. Don B., a Korean War pilot himself, saw the books and soon was looking over our backs and joining in our conversation. It was a very nice visit On another visit, we were talking about Pat’s farms in the area, and discussed the livestock, crops, and machinery on his farms. I told Pat that I also grew up on a farm raising chickens, hogs, beef and dairy cattle, oats, beans, corn, alfalfa and clover hay. I asked Pat what was the thing he liked best on the farm; he was quick to answer with a big smile, “Making and baling hay.” We both agreed that there wasn’t anything to compare to the sweet scent of a freshly cut field of Alfalfa or Red Clover. During one of our visits, I told Pat that I was an army veteran and had gotten drafted during the Vietnam War. Pat responded that when the Korean War broke out, he knew it was his patriotic duty to help his country, but he did not want to shoot or kill anybody, so he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. Pat couldn’t remember where he was stationed at the time, but there was an incidence where he caught two men stealing supplies. When they wouldn’t stop, he had to make up his mind on what to do. He explained, “I really did not want to hurt anybody, but I had to do something, so I shot them in the legs.” Other than this one incident, Pat said he really enjoyed his time in the Air Force and would do it all over again.There was one visit where I got to sit with Pat during an hour-long music session. The young guitarist conducting the session would ask for requests from those in the room. Most of the songs were from the 40’s through the 70’s. Except for one song, where Pat dozed off, he sang and kept time with every song. He even got to beat time on a drum during one song.During our visits, (except for my last two visits due to his decline in health) we always shook hands when I first came and again on leaving, at which Pat would smile and say, ”See ya next time,” and wave goodbye.On my last visit to Pat, I met his daughter, Melanie, who had stayed overnight with Pat due to his recent health decline and worsening dementia. She said her mother and siblings were taking turns staying overnight with him. We talked about my visits, and she mentioned how Pat seemed to perk-up when they talked about the Air Force with him. Unfortunately, Pat passed away two days after this visit.When I attended Pat’s funeral, I wore my VFW uniform, and upon arriving, I expressed my condolences to Melanie as she introduced me to her sisters. They thanked me and expressed their appreciation for me coming that day. I then walked to Pat’s casket. Pat was in a new black suit and looked very sharp with the tri-folded American flag just to the left of his head. While there, Melanie came over and said they had a new U.S. Air Force logo pin and were wondering if it would be okay for it to be buried with Pat. I said I was sure Pat would be very proud to have that pin. Melanie returned with several members of her family, handed me the pin and asked me to put it on Pat. I put the pin on Pat’s left lapel, straightened it, stepped back, came to attention, and gave Air Force Veteran G. Patrick R. a final salute.
– Dennis“I just wanted to stop and take a moment and tell you all how wonderful everyone at Hospice of the Midwest has been.The communication between your team and ours has been amazing! Your staff keeps our team very well updated and they feel like you listen to their concerns. The staff has reported they have called “after hours” or on the weekend and have received pleasant and prompt service. It means so much to us to be able to rely on you guys for our residents’ needs knowing they will be met.There have been many occasions when our resident has been in a “funk” but he still always enjoys seeing the ‘ladies in purple.’Thank you all for all that you do!”“This whole journey started for me and my mother, who has Alzheimer’s, while we were staying at the hospital. There were quite a few residents on her floor who were using Hospice of the Midwest, so they were always getting to know other patients on the floor and being friendly as they passed by. When we decided we wanted hospice, it was good for my mother because she was familiar with them. I was also at ease because of their familiarity and having seen Hospice of the Midwest working with other families on the same floor. I knew I was going to be ready with open arms to them and their services.Low and behold, as time went on, I truly realized how important hospice was. We all needed it; not just my mom. Hospice of the Midwest was so loving and always there for me, as the daughter of a patient. My personality is such that I can better cope with things the more I am aware of what is going on or what is going to happen. This takes away the uncertainty and unknown of how a situation is going to play out. You wonder what it is going to be like, but they gave me so much information and cared so much for my mother and me. I never felt like I was facing this situation alone, and I knew it would not be traumatic. I had knowledge. The power of knowledge, for me, helped in my mom’s passing. The last week I was prepared and ready to let her go.There were many aspects I was pleased with – but there are a couple encounters that really stuck out to me. One day, all the nurses and staff who were working with my mother came in to do paperwork. Afterwards, we were all sitting in my mother’s room and they just wanted me to talk about my mom and what her life was like. They really wanted to know everything about her. It made me feel good to talk about her and tell what her life was like, and I could tell it helped them, too. This helped them know more than that she was simply my mother who wasn’t doing well.Another moment that stands out with me was three days before she passed. As I said before – knowledge is power. I was there with my mom and it was clear she was very agitated and uncomfortable. It was very hard for me to see what she was going through and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay there. The staff was able to notice how I was feeling and gave me an explanation as to why this was happening. Ensuring they would make her more comfortable, they made sure I knew it would be okay to go home for a bit. They were able to read me like a book and I was so thankful they recognized what was going on and made me feel okay to go home. It was wonderful.Each staff member’s personality was so great and the team was simply the best. They were people who should be working in hospice. My family was so lucky to have the team from Hospice of the Midwest and that they took the time to know us before my mother even needed them. We were very blessed – and I don’t throw that word around lightly.I am not afraid to tell people that Hospice of the Midwest is amazing. The team was phenomenal. I cannot stress enough that knowledge is power. All that I learned throughout the process of my mom declining was very powerful and it was good power. It was not scary because I knew what to expect. I was amazed at the difference they made.My advice is this: Don’t go through this and think you can do it by yourself. Even if you think you have it together, you really don’t. I’m so glad I had hospice directly involved at the end of my mother’s life. People need to take advantage of hospice and be encouraged to use it.” – B.T., Daughter of HOMW Patient
Hospice of the Midwest supports that our patients have the right to determine their own goals of care during the final stages of their illness. We focus on comfort, support, quality of life, and education. Hospice of the Midwest promotes a patient-centered approach.