Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all! 

I have news once again as it seems like there is always change.  I have accepted a chaplain position at St. Vincent Hospice in Indianapolis IN with a starting date of 1/21. I am very excited about the job, returning to the state I call home, but wondering why I am moving in January!

I have sadness in leaving a beautiful area, warm weather, the gulf, some wonderful friends, and the place that I have learned the most about being a hospice chaplain. My new job is at an inpatient unit which is where my heart is - it is my most favorite part of working at hospice. I will be on staff of St. Vincent Hospital which has many locations and many opportunities. So - it is a perfect job for me and I leave FL with imprints of so many people on my heart.

I, like you, have been saddened by the killings in CT. It has made me think about the kids in my life. I know you have had similar feelings - hug them tight and keep them safe. I am also saddened by the voices that want to be heard - about gun control, about bearing arms, the second amendment, where God was, what caused the shootings. We would all like to have an easy answer that makes sense. There isn't. And the voices that get loud and force people into their own corners fighting will not bring peace nor answers.  

So for this Christmas, I plan to light a candle and believe in a loving God that is also weeping.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October 3, 2012

Greetings to all that read. There was a time that I thought I was up-to-date in technology and I could figure most things out. I don't post here for a couple of months and it is all new! I'll just keep typing and hope that in the end, it will look like a post. Technology has thoroughly surpassed my abilities - and interest.

I'm being a little jealous right now as this is the time of year that I miss Indiana. The cooler weather and the autumn colors are only memories today. So in honor of the memories, I am making pumpkin chocolate chip bread. That should do it!

8 weeks ago, I had knee replacement surgery so I have been in recovery mode. Therapy, exercises, naps, reading, way too much TV, and playing Words with Friends and Sky Words have been my days. I had the other knee replaced 6 years ago and I remember it being easier. Maybe because I am older, maybe my memory is poor, maybe this knee was worse from the start, maybe other reasons but it has been a time to forget!

 So with that, I haven't worked too much - I just started working part-time a couple of weeks ago. I can feel like I can't walk anymore or that I have no energy left, and then, I meet a patient that fills my spirit. I still love what I do. This week I went into a room with a patient that has been in alot of pain. I met her at the hospital and she quickly told me she wanted to go home. I have found in the days of being a chaplain, that most people that say they want to go home to a chaplain means that they are ready for their final home - their eternal home. But - we were in the hospital and I wasn't completely sure, so I asked her about home. Her words were, I'm ready to see God. I hope she gets her wish this week.

I'm putting a link here to the Pink Glove Project - on YouTube. There are other videos so if you like the pink glove project, search for more. I think of the many people I know that fight cancer, have survived and thrived through cancer - I think of my mom who would have been 88 this month, and I love the pink glove project. I can't figure out how to add the link so you most likely will have to copy and paste. But it's fun to watch - even though the whole thing is long.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

July 28, 2012

Greetings to all that read! It's been awhile since I have put words to this blog but I often think of you and the ways that your spirits are a part of me - even in Florida! I could write so many stories of people I encounter that it seems hard to pick one or two. So today, I'll just share a couple that I encountered this week. I met a man on Monday that has a PhD in Mathematics - whew - he was quite an intelligent man! But what I loved about him was his love for knowledge and being challenged in his thoughts. He grew up Catholic and still found support and comfort in the rituals and liturgy of the Catholic church. But he also loved the Jewish traditions of his long time female partner. They had lived together for 31 years, never marrying as they liked their own arrangement after both being married once. He had learned about her faith tradition and together they incorporated a hers and his faith that gave them joy. One of the many things I love about being an interfaith chaplain is how I have the privilege of learning from so many people about what gives them hope, peace, and a sense of purpose. The second visit was with a Catholic woman who loves her Catholic church. She had written formal prayers, rosaries, and statues everywhere. So on the 1st visit with her, I listened to her describe her faith. Later in the week, she wanted me to come back and so I did. She did not feel well and could not get up from the couch. So I read to her. Her comment was that she thought it would be perfect if she died while I (or someone) was reading to her. Just like a child. She isn't quite ready to die yet, but I hope that I can be reading to her when she does. I hope you can tell that I love what I do. And in these times of killings and violence and shouting all kinds of things that hurt each other in the name of religion and God, I hold on to the fact that my job is to love God and love others. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Friday, May 11, 2012

May 11, 2012

My oh my, it's been a long while. So much has happened in these few months. So I will update a little and I'll share a story or two as I know a few of you enjoy the stories of hospice. I still love what I do - I think that I don't really need to say that anymore. Yes, I still love it - but I have been doing this work long enough that I don't need to affirm my love. It's a given...It's my final's my call in life to do this work. I have spent time in the home of a patient over the past few weeks. She collected shells and had been collecting them for years. She started when she was a kid and had so many stories of picking up shells on the beach. I think about those shells and how her family will have a tangible memory each time they pick up a shell. I went to see her today, and found that she is imminent and will die soon. I took her a shell - it seemed fitting. I also recently went to be with a family when the mom died. Their Mom, collected angels. As some of you may remember, my mom collected angels too and had them pretty much everywhere! I have kept a few and with each one there is a story. This family was already talking about how to distribute the angels so this tangible memory will be passed to generations - from Florida to Maine to California. On this Mother's Day weekend, I remember my mom. As I say to so many people, there is something about mamma's. My mom was special to me and to many. She had the gift of hospitality and could throw parties and entertain in her home with enthusiasm and with love. My brothers and I fondly remember her words, "let's have a party" when it really meant, let's eat junk food. So I blame my mom for my love of junk food - oh, no, not blame - but remember her each time I am fighting a craving for something sweet. My mom was strong and a survivor. She was a nurturer and caregiver. She enjoyed life and loved her church. She relied on her faith when life got hard. I have had my moments where I thought things were not that good because I was becoming my mother, but to be honest, I am proud to be like my mom. So I remember my mom on this weekend. I really miss her. So call your mother. Or visit your mother. Remember your mother. Honor your mother. Be grateful for your mother. And mother can be the one that gave you birth, the one that raised you, the one that rescued you, the one that loved you, and any combination. Update: We have had friends to visit this year and more to come next week. Visits help me from being so homesick! I love much about Florida and I miss much about Indiana. I am now officially addicted to Words with Friends but have given up, Spider Solitaire. Does it really matter what I am addicted to? Connie and I made a new "rule" that we would try new restaurants when we go out as opposed to always going to our past favorites. I won't say I have new favorites but it's been a good adventure. I was a visitor some at the United Methodist Church General Conference in Tampa. The "church" has two slogans/tag lines, Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors and Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World. In my own opinion, I think it fell short on both. And of course, in the same convention center, Tampa will be hosting the Republican Convention. If anyone wonders, I won't be going. Be well, friends.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January 18

Greetings to all that read! As usual, it has been awhile but glad to meet you here today.

I have wanted to share a story with you of a special person named Rickie. I met her at the hospital many times where she would share her own story with me. She had been raised in the Methodist church and as many people do, left the church as a young adult. She was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and Cancer a couple of years ago and needed emotional and spiritual support and went searching. She found a group of pagans that supported her in her journey of illness. She kept sharing her story with me - and I did not know much about paganism, but I was able to listen. She had a friend who she called her soul mate and best friend. Rickie and Tom moved to Florida from Ohio just a couple of years ago to be near the beach! Almost immediately, Rickie was diagnosed and began a slow decline.

Two weeks ago, I was told that Rickie was at the hospital so I was going to go see her. I found out that she had been released so I called Tom to see if I could visit at their home. I don't usually follow-up like that, but I had a whisper in my ear that said, go. So I went. Rickie was terminally restless - first up, then down, then hallucinating. Tom was scared and frustrated and exhausted and when I got there, he began sobbing. It was too much for him but he had told Rickie that she could die at home. Tom had made a promise but did not know how difficult it would be. I immediately called a nurse as help was needed! Tom needed a break and asked if he could take a short walk to a store for cigarettes. Of course I said yes - although I was frightened to be there alone. Rickie had a large body and was very restless so I was afraid that she would fall. Together, Tom and I got her in bed so Tom left for his walk. I tried to not engage Rickie so she might rest until the nurse got there. 5 minutes earlier, Rickie was walking, talking, and drinking water and hallucinating. Tom left...and Rickie dropped the water and died.

I am convinced that Rickie knew that this was her chance to die without Tom there. Experience tells me that some people wait until everyone is there, some people wait until all are gone. Rickie did not want Tom there so physically, Rickie was not ready to die - but it was the only chance.

On January 28, we will be having a pagan service for Rickie at the beach - the place she loved. I have never experienced a pagan service - but for Rickie, I will do just that.

As I write here often, the blessing that I get at working at hospice is the reminder that every day is a gift. It is our tagline, but it is so true. So live life fully, work out your conflicts, say what is important, love big, and find what gives your life meaning - and then love that.

Blessings for your own journey through life.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving. It has been a long while since I have posted here - I could try to make some excuses, but that seems futile so let me just share a little of the past few months.

There are always stories to share from my hospice work. I think about someone that I visited in the hospital several weeks ago. This elderly man did not have any family in the area, and the hospital had been in contact with a nephew who lives in another state. He had not even seen or heard from his uncle for years, yet he was the only living relative. The uncle was barely verbal and not very responsive. The nurse told me that she believed that he was saying a prayer when she went to check on him.

I am always mindful and cautious of prayers that I might say at a bedside when I don't know the beliefs or the wishes of the patient. But, this time, I felt a strong desire to share with him. So I talked a little, and then I prayed for him. When I finished, he started to make noise like he was saying words. I waited, and waited. When he seemed to be done, not knowing at all what he said, I simply said, God, hear our prayers. And very clearly, he repeated, God, hear our prayers. So the next day, I took my IPOD and speaker with me when I visited. I played a couple of Christian old-time hymns and then I played, The Lord's prayer. As it played, he was saying every word. God heard his prayers...and I found out later, he died a few hours later.

The second story - I walked into the building today with a gentleman who looked very tired. I started a conversation and heard him say, "it's not a good day, my wife is dying." I was so struck by that - I have said that I didn't have a good day when I had a cold, it was raining outside, waited for the cable guy too long, or the service at a restaurant was slow.

Friday is National Day of Listening. It was started by StoryCorps in 2008. Each year, on the day after Thanksgiving, StoryCorps asks all Americans to take an hour to record an interview with a loved one. It's one of the least expensive, but most meaningful, gifts you can give your loved ones this holiday season! This year, the emphasis is on teachers, but it can be done for any loved one. You can find out more information at

The 2011 National Day of Listening takes place on Friday, November 25, 2011. Instead of getting lost in Black Friday's long shopping lines, get lost in a conversation with a loved one!

I think of the gift it would be if I had a recording from my mom, dad, and so many others. Working with hospice, I am acutely aware of the importance of sharing what gives your life meaning with those you love and those that love you.

A brief update of life in general: I was in Indiana in October for my niece, Jennifer's wedding. It was an outdoor wedding on a beautiful but very cold autumn day. The leaves had not changed much, but I loved the cool temperatures. Connie and I went back to Indiana in early November so I got a good taste of fall in the Midwest.

I continue to work on the weekends and make a lot of hospital visits, home and nursing home visits, and take calls when patients are dying. I have been working at the inpatient unit - my heart is there and I love being able to spend time there.

We have moved into the modern age and now have a DVR - so I have been finding things at all hours of the night and day to record. And I love the Fast Forward button...when I can remember to use it. I am still a Starbucks junkie and read all that I can. Life is good - I still have moments of missing the old and familiar life- and I still feel very blessed by the work that I do.

I am thankful for family, friends, warm beds, hot showers, food, shelter, employment, memories, email, sunsets, music, faith, books, freedom, hope, love, and a non-fat, pumpkin spice, extra-hot chai!

Happy Thanksgiving. Be thankful and share it!

Monday, August 29, 2011


As I have driven around Pinellas County seeing hospice patients today, I continue to listen to NPR-national radio. I am joined with remember 9/11/2001. And the question that I continue to hear and to get - where were you?

I was in Salt Lake City at a conference. I heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing patriotic songs in a concert that night and felt the horror in a hotel, so many miles from home. If I had to choose a place to get delayed, it would not be Salt Lake City, Utah...but...I was one among many all over the world that were trying to comprehend and to find a way to get home! I remember so vividly the flight to Cincinnati OH and when we landed, people clapped...clapped with vigor. Cincy was as close as we could get that day so 2 dear and committed people came from Fort Wayne IN to pick us up.

This blog is a place that I try to write about the journey of my life and the way hospice work is life-giving to me. I don't want it to be a place to talk politics or world events. But today, I remember, with all of you the way our lives changed 10 years ago. I hope that I do not take the small things for granted as much, that I live a life that is rich and full, and that I will do whatever I can to bring peace and love to my corner of the world.

Mattie Stepanek had important words to say on 9/11/2001 when he was only 11 years old and I want to write them here today.

We need to stop.
Just stop.
Stop for a moment.
Before anybody
Says or does anything
That may hurt anyone else.
We need to be silent.
Just silent.
Silent for a moment.
Before we forever lose
The blessing of songs
that grow in our hearts.
We need to notice
Just notice.
Notice for a moment
Before the future slips away
Into ashes and dust of humility.
Stop, be silent, and notice.
In so many ways, we are the same.
Our differences are unique treasures.
We have, we are, a mosaic of gifts.
To nurture, to offer, to accept.
We need to be.
Just be.
Be for a moment.
Kind and gentle, innocent and trusting.
Like children and lambs,
never judging or vengeful.
And now, let us pray,
Differently, yet together.
Before there is not earth, no life,
no chance for peace.