A story of family and community by Gina Woods

Now that I am no longer in my 20’s, I have seen many stages of life, and I am quite sure I will remember this stage of my life, the end of my father’s life, as one of the most beautiful, dear and sweet times. I have had the opportunity to experience, reflect, and savor what Daddy has taught my children and myself throughout our lives, and how he has helped form us into the people, we are today. The two words that keep coming to my mind are family and community.

A week or so before Daddy started on hospice, I was visiting with him, and he told me that Dorothy was there. Alma, one of his loving caregivers, who was in the room with us, turned to me and asked who Dorothy was. I told her it was Daddy’s sister-in-law. Alma then asked me if Dorothy was dead or alive. I told her Dorothy was dead. I then asked Daddy if anyone else was there and he nodded yes. I asked him if Tim, Dorothy’s husband of over 65 years, and Daddy’s brother, was there, and he nodded yes. Then I asked him if his Mother was there. Again, he nodded yes. That began the procession of family and community that helped him, his grandchildren, and myself usher him out of this life and into the next. I will NEVER forget that moment, and that is when I realized I was at the beginning of one of the sweetest times of my life. I knew that my father was going to pass from this life on to the next, surrounded by his loved ones. I could not experience any greater peace and comfort than that.

The procession of family, friends, and loving caregivers surrounded my father through the last few weeks of his life, and it continues now. I wish I had the time right now to list how each and every one of you have helped and encouraged us in honoring my father. But as you walk through this day with us, know that every detail was taken care of by a loving member of our community.

That is the gift my father has given me in his passing. He has shown me what a good life is, showing hospitality, quiet courage, and a big smile will touch people’s lives and create a lasting community. One of the foundational threads in the fabric of my life is no longer here with me, but his love and actions will live on for many generations to come.