Here is a guest post from Eric Linder, author of Hospice Voices.
As a new hospice volunteer, you like to think your first visit to a new patient and their family will be greeted with a rousing chorus of “thank God you’re here.” But as might be expected, each family reacted a bit differently when I arrived. Or rather, each member of each family reacted a bit differently. Sometimes, the patients were enthusiastic and sometimes, it took a while longer for them to feel comfortable with me.
My first patient, Bob Zimmerman, couldn’t wait for me to start visiting him and we immediately bonded over our shared eye problems (we were both blind in one eye) and international travel (we’d both recently been to Ukraine). On the other hand, the fact that her son was anxious for our visits to begin held no weight with Little One, a 94-year-old Mono Indian. She was very skeptical and kept pushing me off. “Now’s not a good time,” she’d say whenever I called. Only later did I learn the reason. A reason that became one of the most commented upon and popular chapters in my book, “Little One’s Big Secret.” While Howard Cooper’s daughter, Cricket, was all in favor of hospice supporting her father, she steadfastly refused it for herself, even though she was undergoing chemo for the latter stages of cancer. I never pushed her on this issue, as Cricket was rarely far from “Dan,” her beloved Dan Wesson long-barrel 44-mag, with which she was a crack shot.