Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Dawn was clearly in pain. She was in need of a few days off to rest. I could see it in her face when she lifted Dad up to help him into the wheel chair or when she leaned over his bed to tend to him. I never knew what the source of this pain was, because she never spoke of it, even when I noticed it out loud with concern. Dad never knew the suffering of this woman who cared for him at the convalescent care center where he ended his days. She was there for him, day after day, for all the unceremonious, unglamorous tasks that are part of caring for a gravely ill person. 

Cherie and Stacie were RNs at the hospital. They tended to dad early on, while we still thought he would recover from his surgery. He was still strong enough then to be grouchy and demanding. Cherie and Stacie are both small women, but were able to get dad in and out of bed unassisted, and they were always bright and cheerful, even when he was in the foulest of moods. I could see his demands and fussing and impatience take it's toll on them, but they never let it show through to him. They were angels for my Dad, and when he ended up back in the hospital a week later, in a different ward, both came several times to see him.

Laura was a nursing student who cared for dad a couple of days on his last visit to the hospital. She was learning her craft, and had more time for dad than the regular hospital staff, so she was able to pamper him a bit, which was something he needed. 

Marie was the palliative care specialist at the hospital. She spent more time with me than with Dad, but was vitally important in helping me to understand how to balance Dad's comfort with the technical concerns of the doctors. When the time came to shift from healing to hospice, she was a godsend.

Dad's doctor is one of those guys you hope will care for you if you get really sick. He spent half an hour with dad every day for 3 weeks. He kept the channel open for me to talk to him any time I needed to, and represented his profession remarkably. Marcus Welby had nothing on Dr. Kolb.

Cindy was the hospice volunteer who came to sing hymns to Dad, accompanied by her guitar and her harp. Cindy has a rich strong voice that startles you with its uniqueness and beauty when she first begins to sing, and she picked some of the songs that I remembered my parents singing together many times. Dad and I were both deeply moved by her visit. She had also sung for Mom several times during her last days as well.

Lee is a retired nurse and  resident in the assisted living place where Dad lived before he was hospitalized. Two years older than Dad and born, like him, in Fort Worth TX, they had formed a strong friendship over the past couple of years. Lee came to see Dad at the hospital both times he was there, and sat for hours by his bed every day that he was at the convalescent care center once he went into hospice care. She was a true friend.

Tim is a guy about my age who befriended Dad a couple of years ago as well. Tim knows practically everyone in the assisted living and convalescence complex where Dad lived, and is loved by all. He used to take dad out for lunch or to watch rockets launch from Vandenburg AFB or to just drive around looking at the beautiful central coast scenery.  Tim is one of those guys who knows the value of unconditional love, from the giving side.

Eva was a nurse who cared for Mom in her final days. She was with her when she died. Dad always had a spot in his heart for Eva, and she came to see him the two nights before he died. She remembered many details about Mom, and talked to him, reassuring him that it was time for him to go and be with her—to "drive her around", which is something they always loved to do. Then she encouraged my brother and Peggy and me to go home and get some rest, because Dad probably was waiting to be alone to die. It is a common thing for people who are dying to wait until loved ones are gone. Mom did it too.

These are a few, but by no means all of the angels who cared for Dad and our family in recent weeks. There are more than I can remember names for, and some that I never knew names for. Tiffany, Angi, Debbie, Eppi, Irene, Virgie, Mugs, Ron, Marianne, and Bonnie are a few that come to mind. And they all are representative of the selfless nurses and caregivers who work tirelessly in every corner of the earth to do this extraordinary work. It clearly is not just for the pay. They are the bright lining of the health care industry, rewarded mostly by the inner light that calls them to such work. 


  1. Nicely done Michael. I noticed angels with different names when my mother recently died. In addition to the occupations listed in your group, I noticed mom's ambulance drivers, receptionists, business agents that went out of their way to make her feel important.

  2. This was very poignent and touching and even though i do not know you,I can in a way relate to it, because of experiences in my life. You are a lucky person to have so many good people in your life.It just shows you that good brings good. A happy and successful 2012 to you and yours.
    A Wellwisher