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.
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.
From the moment Mark arrived at ABODE, we knew something magical was going to happen. He was just 58 years old and had battled cancer for several years. Mark’s room was filled with friendship, laughter, music and love. He’d been somewhat estranged from his family. He and his sisters reunited at ABODE. They told us that their time together here helped heal two generations of family pain.
Robert is in our Peach Room. He’s the strong, silent type – though we manage to get a chuckle out of him every now and then. Robert retired from a 30+ year career in the Air Force. We’ve placed an Air Force flag in the garden outside his room.
When Gloria came to us, she was pretty far along in her journey. She struggled with bladder cancer, a particularly painful disease. We loved taking care of her and being there with her as her journey came to a very peaceful end. Her sweet husband, Jose, visited daily....
We had a beautiful jewel in our Green Room – literally! Her name was Jewel, and it fit her perfectly. Jewel had a rough go over the past few years and was in a terrible amount of pain from a very rare blood cancer and other ailments that needed tending to.
Philip was with us less than 24 hours. During that short time, we felt his spirit and soul.
Those in the military often face their own unique challenges when it comes to death and dying. Philip spent his career in the Air Force. He was a Vietnam vet. When he died, Myra and Macy of Dignity Funeral lovingly and respectfully wrapped him in a white sheet, placed a pretty cover on him and then draped him with the American flag.
Beatriz, who brought such a special spark and a beautiful Argentinian accent to our home, died in January. Her nephew traveled from Mexico City to join her in her final days at ABODE. A bit cautious of us at first, it didn’t take long before Beatriz could finally relax and know that she was in a safe and loving place.
Efren was almost 93 when he arrived at ABODE. Sometimes folks called him The Teacher – that’s from teaching Sunday School and also from playing dominoes with his brother. Efren used to tease his brother by saying, “Let me sit down and teach you,” as siblings tend to do.
Ruth, who described herself as “100 and some” years old, died very early in the morning with her daughter Brenda by her side. We enjoyed Ruth’s spunky sense of humor and getting to know her family. They visited her daily – often multiple times a day.
And we said farewell to Jesus. His son, Jesse, took a bus from Houston to be with him. Jesse had only known his father for the past five years. We asked if he would like to have a photo of his dad and him. He said yes. When he saw it, he said so sweetly, “That’s my dad. I wish we had more time. We have more catching up to do.”
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.