'Hospice' was a word my father originally feared, as his chronic illness progressed. He associated it with giving up, with death. However, as his final days approached, and we moved him from the hospital to the warm, tender care of the staff at the John & Orpha Blair Hospice Residence in Warren, he immediately understood that the word actually stands for compassion, dignity, comfort, and a higher quality of life during one's final journey.
My father was not a conventionally religious man, but in those final hours, as he held our hands and, in his words, tried to drive some new vehicle he had never learned to operate, "Forward, then in reverse, then forward" (amusing us to the end), I believe he knew that we were surrounded by earthly angels the nurses, staff, and volunteers of Warren Hospice. Among them, he was able to let go of his fear, embark upon his final voyage peacefully and unafraid. And among them we, who had rushed from far corners of the country, were able to accompany him along that path within a place of warmth, comfort, and unwavering support.
From his room, he and we looked out upon woods which surround a yard where deer, squirrels and birds come daily to feed and play. We were offered family accommodations in upstairs bedrooms, meals at any time of day or night, and Dad was provided medications to relieve discomfort, and massages to ease his tired body. As his final night fell, and the soft lighting from the lamps chased the shadows from the corners, his choice to refuse medication was honored, he traveled peacefully forward in his new vehicle (no longer slipping into reverse), while in the Living Room his little great-granddaughter learned to crawl on the soft rug.
We feel so grateful to and blessed by all of the people who are Hospice of Warren Dad's angels. We can never adequately thank them for the skills, compassion, love and tears they shared with us and our father, and with others who find comfort in their care.
On behalf of our Dad, we would like to encourage people to support and donate to Hospice of Warren County, and the Blair Hospice Residence, so this remarkable non-profit organization may continue to provide their most-personal end-of-life care to others.
The Family of Fred W. Hammer, Jr.