As a former firefighter and chaplain, Craig Gordon had witnessed hundreds of deaths throughout his lifetime, but when his beloved father, Don, started to decline, it was a completely different experience. “My dad had never been hospitalized or taken any medications—he was a laid-back guy who liked going to Bridgeman’s after church on Sundays and once a year, he and my mom went on a cruise,” Craig said. “Even though he was 98 years old and had lived a good long life, I wasn’t ready.”
Knowing that his dad would soon need hospice care, Craig reached out to three organizations, including Lifespark Hospice. “Before the other two got back to me, I had an initial meeting with Lifespark and felt good about working them,” he said. “I didn’t need to meet with anyone else.”
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Craig’s parents were living independently in a senior community when Don went on hospice. They could have moved him into assisted living on the same campus, Craig said, but his mother wanted her husband to pass away where he’d been living rather than in a new environment.
The Lifespark Hospice team, led by Meghan Ferguson, RN, Case Manager, visited frequently to check Don’s blood pressure and oxygen levels, monitor his breathing for signs of discomfort, and offer support to the family. “My mom and I had the utmost respect for Meghan and what she did,” Craig said. “When she told us that the hospice team would always be available, not only did she say it in words, but she backed it up in her actions.” That included calling Craig during or after her visits with Don, and always making a point to return calls from him or his mother within the hour.
To give his mom some freedom, Craig had arranged for an in-home caregiver to watch his dad three days a week. One day, when the caregiver didn’t show, his mother worried that if nobody came for the next shift, she would miss the van to the grocery store. “Meghan told me that if the home care agency couldn’t send anyone, I should call her and she would come to be with my dad,” Craig said. “It gave us peace of mind to know we could count on her.”
The night before his father died, Craig said there were signs that the end was coming. He had rebounded before, but this time seemed different. Craig and his mother were at the bedside when Don passed the next morning.
Craig called Lifespark to let them know and they called the funeral home. “Meghan asked if we’d like her to come by, but I said we were doing okay,” he said. “Still, it meant a lot that she offered—and I know she would have shown up.” Meghan also made it clear that if he or his mom needed anything, they should call her.
“The Lifespark team made my dad’s passing as peaceful as it could be—I can’t imagine that any other company could do a better job,” Craig said. “God willing, my mom won’t need hospice for a long while, but when she does, Lifespark will be hearing from me.”
To learn more about Lifespark’s approach to hospice and palliative care, visit Lifespark Hospice or call us at 952-345-0919.
Photo: Don Gordon and his wife shared by Craig Gordon