Each of our Guests is special and unique – though we’ve found common threads in their final days. They often ask: What did my life represent? Did I say everything I wanted to say? Did I love well? Was I loved?
Our contemplative approach to care comes into play as Guests ponder those questions. We have honed a sixth sense about nuanced changes, needs, when to engage, when to pull back and when to simply be present – because sometimes the most helpful thing we can do is simply be. ABODE is a place where Guests can find peace before they die. And we honor and celebrate them every step of the way.
With Paul as our Guest, ABODE is now a partner in the Compassionate Release Program, which allows federal prisoners to be released for “extraordinary or compelling circumstances.” At age 70, Paul was serving his sentence in Austin when he stopped eating and it became clear his life was drawing to a very quick close.
We welcomed BJ to ABODE in late September. She’s 73 and has had a wonderful entrepreneurial career as owner of a janitorial and pest control service. She’s also a wonderful artist and animal lover. BJ has always lived on her own and is, as you can imagine, fiercely independent. Her cancer, though, has made it impossible for her to live alone any longer.
Esther came to ABODE in October. After losing her son, she’d lived with her daughter-in law for many years. Our time together was just a few days, and her passing was very quiet and peaceful.
Milo often helps greet our Guests, just as he did in October when Eddie came to ABODE. Eddie had quite the career, hobnobbing with celebrities even U.S. Presidents in Las Vegas back in the day. He moved to San Antonio a few years ago to be close to his family.
When we welcomed Sandra, 76, to ABODE in late August, she told us that she barely slept the night before because she was so excited to join us – and to hold her daughter, Joy, in her arms for the first time in six long weeks. The facility where Sandra had been did not allow in-person visits.
The very handsome Jack joined us in late September. He’s 92 – a former oil man who managed the accounting function for Tesoro and later, Marathon Oil. He lost his beloved wife earlier this year. His face lights up when he talks about her – they were very happily married 42 years. His children and their spouses love to dote on Jack. And we love to dote on him, too.
Christopher was an emergency case. Despite being very ill, he was discharged from a local hospital with absolutely nowhere to go. The timing happened to be just right. He arrived on a Thursday and died in the middle of the night with our End of Life Navigator Claudia by his side.
Lilia, 90, was with us for a handful of days, as well. She moved to the U.S. on her own when she was just 15, secured citizenship and then helped bring her various family members here, too. Her sister, nieces and nephews described Lilia as busy and energetic. She enjoyed computer classes and exercise programs at the community center – and she had many friends throughout San Antonio. She did so much for so many – we were happy to return the favor and ensure that her death was a peaceful one.
Sometimes Guests come to ABODE and find just the right peace and comfort they need, and they relax and let go very quickly. Such was the case with Jamie. We only had her for a few days in August. During that time, she was surrounded by family and, of course, our amazing ABODE staff.
Guests like Mary, who came to us with Stage 4 endometrial cancer. At age 73, Mary lived alone in San Antonio’s Monte Vista neighborhood. She knew she was dying and didn’t want to be a burden on anyone – especially her nieces, who were busy with their families and careers. But Mary could no longer live alone.
John Calhoun Wells
Victoria Van Winkle
About 5 percent of our Guests are veterans. All branches of the service have been represented. We are grateful to Herschel Sheines and the Jewish War Veterans for their continued support of ABODE and our Veteran Guests.
We’re always especially honored when we can care for Guests who served in our military. In fact, we always place a flag representing their military branch outside their room.