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Mindful : February 2014
48 mindful February 2014 Above from left: Advent House volunteer Shubha Kamath, resident Chet Nothhard, and student Madeline McGrain Githler, 18. Chet died on May 1, 2013. Facing page: Delaney Glaze cuts out a portrait of herself, right, with her sisters and her grandmother. It reminds them that in reality we’re nothing but a breath away from death. Once it’s lit, the students start sharing their experiences. Kane asks who’s had a shift recently and what happened. “ We have a new resident na med Chet,” says Emily Hanss, 18, who volunteers at a hospice-care home called Advent House. “He has four children. They were all there on my shift and his wife was there. He had written a book about his life. I sta rted reading it and it’s so cool to hear all these memories. I think that’s so nice for his family to have.” Alejandra Biaggi chimes in: “His entire family was there on my shift, too, and they are such a joy. The atmosphere was so hopeful. “I had some time to read the book,” Alejandra adds, and then moves on to the nitty-gritty of his health. “He’s a little uncomfortable. He was dry and flaky, so we repositioned him. We lotioned his feet and talked to his family. He was very polite, in high spirits and clea r mentally.” “So, you’ve got relationships started,” says Kane. “This is lovely.” That night, Madeline McGrain Githler is on shift at Advent House. She talks to Chet’s wife and son and does what she can to ma ke him comfortable. The next day, the students find out that Chet died overnight. Madeline was on shift when it happened. After his morning class, Ka ne seeks her out. “Are you okay?” he asks. “Do you want to share or talk about it?” “It was really fast,” Madeline says. “He was really badly mottled on his arms. He was really sweaty, too, and he had the rattle. But some people have that rattle for, like, a week.” Madeline tells him he seemed comfortable but that his wife was understandably upset. “I asked her if she wanted a hug and she said okay,” she says. She mentions that she was the one who had to inform the on-call nurse. “Then I had to call the volunteers who were coming after me. They were all pretty sad. It was stra nge because he looked the same.” Kane tells her they’ll share in her afternoon class. With a hug, he adds, “ You’re a great person a nd you did great work.” Dela ney Glaze is working on the class’s year- end project, a quilt made of squares dedicated to the memory of hospice residents they met during the year. Delaney began hospice the same way her class- mates did, but then it got personal. Her g rand- mother was diagnosed with brain cancer and had less than t wo months to live. Delaney approached the director of Shepherd Home where she volun- teers, to see if she could get a bed for her grand- mother. She arrived at the home in November and died in early December. For Delaney, it was a n eye-opening experience to be on the other side of the bed. “At first, I was afraid