My grandfather was the most strong-willed, hardworking and independent person I have ever known. My family always joked that he was a man of nine lives, using each one of them as an excuse to come up with a great story of something that he had overcome in his life. Grandpa prided himself on his silly pranks, and his witty antics that constantly kept everyone on their toes. He loved anything that had to do with antique cars, or anything that had an engine, and would spend hours at various antique car shows around the Ottawa Valley. I feel as though because he was so “car crazy”, there was never anything that could keep Grandpa grounded in one place for more than a little while. He was constantly on the move and until his final days, would never let anything take away his independence.
In March of 2011, my grandpa was diagnosed with a very aggressive and fast moving type of lung cancer. Through all of his testing, and trips to and from various hospitals, Grandpa remained extremely positive and never let his diagnosis hinder his sense of humour or wit. Being put on oxygen full time was one of the most difficult things to see. You could see through his smile that for the first time he felt his independence slowly diminish. As his oldest granddaughter he cheerfully put up with my constant nagging reminders to put his oxygen back on, take his medication, or try to eat something. He was such a good sport, and jokingly hassled me for being such a bother.
Day after day I watched the strongest man I know succumb to the dreadful side effects of cancer. It became evident that even the combination of full time family support and home care just wasn’t enough to keep him comfortable.
The thought of Hospice Renfrew was terrifying to me. From what I knew of it, it was the final step in the journey of life, and I was not ready to accept that my Grandpa was at this stage. Before he arrived at Hospice, I had spent hours every day sitting with him or helping my Grandma with various jobs around their house just to be there for them. But for the first time, I was very reluctant to go and see him lying in a bed that didn’t belong to him. The day that he entered, I waited until I couldn’t stand it anymore before pulling into the Hospice Renfrew parking lot.
The moment I walked into room 4 where my Grandpa was, my entire outlook on Hospice changed. For the first time in months, I saw the peace and sense of comfort in Grandpa as he lay propped up in his bed. He was situated with the things most important to him surrounding him and it was the most comforting feeling I have ever had. He had the most beautiful view from his room, where he watched various species of birds come and go, and like clockwork he awaited the arrival of the local deer at the same time every evening. Wildlife was a love of Grandpa’s, and to see him so at peace with the surrounding nature was calming. He was welcome to bring pictures and items of home so as to make it as comfortable as possible.
Hospice Renfrew from that point forward became an extension of our home. The staff and volunteers immediately became part of our family. Their compassion and dedication to helping my Grandpa was evident in each and every one of them. I was very close to my Grandpa and every one of the staff made me feel as important as he was, even though I was only twenty-three, and just a grandchild. Grandpa immediately took a shining to the people around him, and I think that they helped him to transition into the relaxed state that he was in until his final day. The moment that the front door of Hospice opens up, the sense of home that you feel begins often with the smell of fresh baking, hot out of the oven. Grandpa had always loved his sweets, so the aroma was like heaven to him, even though his appetite was dwindling. What was once dreaded nights of tossing and turning became comfortable sleeps for him, and he made sure that everyone knew how much he loved his bed there!
I spent hours upon hours sitting at Hospice Renfrew in both Grandpa‘s room, or in the brilliant sunroom at the back of the building. During this time, I got to know many of the different staff members, and they openly spoke to me to ensure that I was as comfortable as Grandpa was. These people became friends, and were no longer the medical staff that I anticipated they would be for the three weeks that he stayed at Hospice.
Finally the day that I was so afraid for had arrived and I was forced to say my final goodbye to my Grandfather, the most amazing man I had ever known. It was this day that I was comforted by the many staff that had come to know Grandpa throughout his stay. Their tears and kind words of compassion were so genuine and sincere that it left a lasting impression on each and every one of my family members.
I will forever speak word of utmost praise to anyone that will listen to me about Hospice Renfrew. To my family and me, it was the only place in the world that could have offered my Grandpa the comfort and peace that he experienced through his last days of life‘s journey. This place became a home to us all, and we will forever be grateful to Hospice for the opportunity of providing us with our final memories of Terry Neville to be as incredible and special as we ever could have imagined.