As a hospice volunteer, I am called to work with many different people. It’s one of the things that I most enjoy. I’ve had patients ranging in age from 44 to 103; from countries as far flung as Mexico, Romania, Ethiopia and India; men and women; people with family support and those without. Every situation is different, but every person I encounter offers the opportunity to appreciate how fundamentally similar human beings are.
One of my current patients is a case in point. I’m an educated woman from New England who enjoyed a rewarding professional career. She was raised in the Midwest, one of 10 siblings. Her dreams of education and career were cut short when she became a single mom at age 19 to a beloved son, born with significant physical handicaps. Her husky voice becomes quieter when she talks about her son’s death in his early 40s. Despite our outward differences, we have developed a warm and caring relationship. We talk about our former loves and losses, family, and more. We watch silly television programs together, and revel in her thrift store finds. Whether our conversation is superficial or deep, our hearts are always in it. If anyone had told me how I would come to love this woman from Appalachia I would have been skeptical. But there it is. We connect in the ways that matter.
Content provided by Montgomery Hospice and Prince George’s Hospice volunteer, edited for confidentiality.