Read Dianah Gibson's Story

Nov 19, 2020
As news director at WFRE/WFMD, I had interviewed Frederick Health Hospice’s staff and volunteers, attended their fundraisers, and reported on their role in our community. I knew they did good work, but I didn’t truly understand the true power of what they do until my family and I needed them to help care for my Dad last year.

My Dad was a fighter and a survivor. He had battled chronic illness successfully for most of his life, so we all thought he’d beat Congestive Heart Failure, too. I guess that’s why it came as such a shock when his doctors recommended that we call Frederick Health Hospice to help us care for him in what would likely be his last days.

Although many people try, Dad succeeded in living every day to the fullest. He was a wonderful partner to my mom for 56 years, father of seven and grandfather to nine. He was a gifted athlete and a carpenter, and a lover of music and art. He taught us to throw a football and ride a bike, to take care of each other, and to never to give up.

Maybe that’s why one of my biggest fears when we called Hospice was that we were somehow “giving up” on Dad. But in the weeks that followed, I came to understand that to embrace Hospice was not to give up hope, but instead to embrace a different definition of it. From the moment Frederick Health Hospice became involved in Dad’s care, I felt the hope that comes from knowing that, while we could not change the outcome of Dad’s disease, we could still give him peace, comfort, and fullness for the rest of his days.

An organization that can bring that kind of hope into one of life’s most difficult journeys is truly extraordinary. In that moment, I became a Hospice supporter for life—and I’d like to ask you to join me today by making a gift to Frederick Health Hospice.

I will always be grateful for how compassionate and collaborative Hospice was. Together, we worked with them to create a plan of care for Dad. Everything was based on Dad’s needs and desires and guided by his choices. They became our single point of contact for everything—equipment, prescriptions, comfort measures…everything.

Dad’s nurse, Jamie, cared for him with the utmost compassion and respect. By watching her interact with him, we would learn how to take care of Dad’s every need. In her gentle way, Jamie gave us the information and insight we needed to care for Dad, and helped us understand the journey that lay ahead.

Initially, I was also afraid that Dad’s world would become small while he was on Hospice—something it had never been before. What a relief to learn about all the services Hospice offers besides medical care!

Our family chose to invite Hospice’s Music Therapist, Chaplain, and Veteran Liaison to visit Dad, and those decisions brought all of us more joy than I can tell you.

From John Denver’s “Annie’s Song” to Mario Lanza’s “Serenade”, Hospice’s Music Therapist Georgia would play and sing Dad’s favorites, allowing him to relax and unwind. We felt that same serenity the day the Hospice Chaplain, Father Pothin, stopped by to give us a blessing.

And because Hospice’s Veteran Liaison Keith Midberry took the time to research Dad’s military service before he visited, he was able to prompt Dad to tell us stories about his life aboard the USS Amberjack submarine for the very first time. At one of his visits, Keith held an appreciation ceremony for Dad’s service. Even though he was very weak, Dad managed to sit up to receive Keith’s salute.

Dad died on July 10, 2019. Thanks to Hospice, his life continued to expand, right up until his last day. He stayed in the home he designed and built in Middletown for our family 50 years ago. Our big, rambunctious family came and went at all hours. He listened to music and told stories as his incredible Hospice team became far more than caregivers…they became friends.

I will never be able to repay what Hospice did for Dad and our family, but I will be a supporter for life. I hope you will join me and make a gift to Frederick Health Hospice today.

With heartfelt gratitude,

Dianah Gibson

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