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2012-05-10 digital edition

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2012-05-10 / Church

THEY SAID IT

(Life Lessons from Hospice Patients)

My Family is Everything to Me

Manuel had heart disease and had been declining for quite a while. His family, four generations, all lived in the same neighborhood. They cared for him in his home, taking shifts between them. He was never alone.

Manuel was all smiles every time I saw him. “My family is everything to me,” he’d say.

One Sunday morning, Manuel had a stroke. When I got to the ER, he was unresponsive. He was admitted to the hospital in the hopes he might improve.

Manuel didn’t improve. His breathing grew irregular. He labored for breath several more days. Doctors marveled he was still alive.

I knew Manuel did not want to die in the hospital. I joined our nurse for a meeting with the family. When we arrived, they looked at us and said, “Let’s get him home.”

We were on the road several hours later. We got Manuel home and into his hospital bed in the front room. His family packed themselves into the room, circled the bed, and prayed. As we prayed, Manuel let out a sigh. He was gone.

Manuel was a man of his word. “My family is everything to me.” He lived that out. If he was going to die, it was going to be at home.

The decisions we make have remarkable power. We need convictions, things we believe and stand for, no matter what. Things we will and will not do.

What are our convictions? Are we living them?

Thanks, Manuel.

Gary Roe is the Chaplain of Southern Care Hospice and is interim Minister at First Baptist Church in Lexington

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