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Thankful for Hospice- 13 Years Later
Posted in: Community
Debby Shultzaberger grew up in a large and loving Italian family. The youngest of six, Debby always enjoyed a special closeness with her mother, Matilda, or “Tillie,” as friends called her. So, it only seemed natural that in her seventies Tillie should come to live with Debby and her family. Debby loved having her mother at home with her, and Tillie loved being there – she got to spend time her daughter, and also with her three grandsons. She stayed active painting, swimming, reading, and cooking and baking for the family. By all accounts she was a woman whose infectious zest for life charmed everyone she met.
Around Tillie’s 88th birthday there was a noticeable decline. The leukemia that had been inactive for 20 years flared, and she developed a heart condition. Her lungs had to be drained regularly and she received chemotherapy. “I had to be there around the clock at the hospital – sleeping there,” Debby recalls.
When Tillie returned home she had three home health aides as she continued chemo. It was one of the aides who finally suggested that they should call Hospice of Frederick County. Tillie agreed, but the idea of hospice frightened Debby. “I didn’t want to believe that it was her time. I was trying to hold on to all the hope I could. But, that’s what she wanted.”
When Hospice came “they immediately set up a bed for her that made it easy for her to be comfortable. They had someone here every day to give her meds, bathe her – whatever we wanted… It made us all more comfortable.” Hospice also provided counseling for Debby’s youngest son, Colin, who was 14 at the time and called his grandmother his best friend.
Tillie died on an afternoon in late September of 2003, holding Debby’s hand. Hospice allowed Tillie to stay at home that night so that each of her family could spend time alone with her, saying goodbye. “That was worth so much. Hospice was wonderful,” Debby says. She is grateful for Hospice: because of their help Tillie’s was a good death; a graceful end for a life well and richly lived.
Thirteen years later, Debby Shultzaberger still remembers with gratitude the services provided to her entire family when her mother, Tillie, was dying. “They had someone here every day to give her meds, bathe her – whatever we wanted… It made us all more comfortable… Hospice was wonderful.”
Matilda Monto was known to stay up all night – even into her eighties – talking and giggling with her sister, children, and grandchildren. For her, there was nothing more important than family. Hospice of Frederick County allowed Tillie to spend her final days at home, surrounded by the generations of people who loved her.