The Gift of Shabbos

This is Mickey’s Story

My husband of 36 years, Mickey, lit up a room and my life. He was a man of great principle and ethics—a financial guru on one hand and a humble individual on the other. Simply put, he enjoyed life and found humor in everything. It was a gift he passed on to his three children and three grandchildren. Mickey did everything out of the box, including living for 18 precious months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was a miracle he lasted so long. We eventually made the decision to stop actively fighting the cancer. Mickey transitioned to MJHS hospice care which was provided at our home in Queens. I’m a physician’s assistant (PA) and familiar with hospice. When Mickey was first discharged from the hospital, his MJHS Hospice nurse and I were able to manage his symptoms.

For over a week, the two of us were able to provide all the support he needed. His nurse was just wonderful. Unfortunately, Mickey’s symptoms became so distressing we could no longer manage his care at home. In fact, his issues were so acute that he couldn’t go to just any hospice residence, we needed one that could provide him with a hospital level of care, ideally in a home-like environment. Mickey hit a crisis point on New Year’s Eve. That’s when I spoke to the MJHS Medical Director. He knew I was a PA, which made it easier for us to have a direct peer-to-peer conversation. It was clear that Mickey’s need for help was critical, but neither of us wanted an emergency room admission. Despite being New Year’s Eve, the Medical Director said he could take Mickey immediately. I trusted MJHS, so we moved Mickey, site unseen, to the inpatient residence.

Mickey was admitted at 11:45 p.m. on December 31st. The nursing staff that night was just amazing. His suffering was gone almost immediately and he was able to begin the new year pain free. It was such a blessing for us both. During our time at the inpatient residence, everyone put our needs first and respected our wishes. On Friday, New Year’s Day, an MJHS rabbi called and asked if we needed anything. We are an Orthodox Jewish family, so I told him what we needed for Shabbos. In what seemed like minutes, we had a challah, wine, electric Shabbos candles, even a Shabbos lamp. I’m so very grateful that Mickey and I were able to welcome Shabbos together.

Now free from pain, Mickey wanted to shower. The experience was transformational. He was able to sit up and interact. The whole family was able to come, right down to his youngest grandchild. And our congregational rabbi came to provide added support. Everyone felt so welcomed by the staff. I can’t thank the whole hospice team enough for the care and comfort they provided. Two days later, surrounded by love, Mickey passed away peacefully. When I saw the care and compassion shown to my husband, and experienced the respect given us all, I decided to ask friends and family to make donations in Mickey’s memory to MJHS Hospice so others can benefit from the same level of support.

—Barbara, Mickey’s Wife

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