A Dying Grandmothers Last Wish

This is Edie’s story

My mother-in-law, Edie*, was a warm, wonderful, sometimes stubborn but always proud woman. At 92, she was a loving mother and grandmother who couldn’t wait for her first great grandchild. Edie suffered from pulmonary hypertension, congestive heart failure and dementia. Yet even with these health issues she was still able to live on her own in an assisted living community, with the support of a home health aide, until her illnesses led to hospitalization.

Unfortunately, when she was ready for discharge from the hospital, her needs had grown so great that the assisted living facility would not accept her back home without additional support. That’s when her physician suggested she might be eligible for hospice. He said, “Let’s see what they can do to help.” At the time, I couldn’t possibly imagine just how much help we would all receive. While Edie had multiple health issues, she was still active, so I felt confident she wasn’t ready for hospice. It turns out I was wrong. You don’t have to be close to death to receive hospice services. MJHS Hospice made it possible for Edie to return home. That in itself was a gift.

Over time, the MJHS Hospice team, including nurses, social worker, home health aides and a rabbi, cared for Edie—and our family. Every single person was warm, caring and treated her with respect. I was so impressed with the level of responsiveness and how the team knew just how to comfort her. Edie lived for two months with the support she received from MJHS Hospice. She was able to listen to Sinatra—her favorite—and spend quality time with her family. She loved her visits from Rabbi Rudansky, who we all know as Charles. He would come by every Friday, challah in hand, to wish us a good Shabbos and chat with Edie. On his visits, the dementia seemed to slip away. She became so engaged. My family and I can’t thank MJHS enough for the difference they made in Edie’s life and ours.

Not unexpectedly, during the last two weeks of her life she went into a rapid decline. That’s when MJHS sent her nurse Margaret to manage the pain. Perhaps it was that stubbornness, but she kept holding on. One day, Margaret – an experienced hospice nurse – took me aside and said, “Edie won’t let go until she sees her great grandchild.” At first, I didn’t think it could be true. But at Margaret’s suggestion, we called our nephew and they came. She put sterile pads on Edie’s stomach and chest so they could rest the baby on her. She was able to touch and feel her great grandchild. Just a few short hours later, Edie passed away, a happy great-grandmother.

—Robin, Edie’s daughter-in-law

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

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