ThinkstockPhotos-76946093.jpgChristmas at "Grandpa Gordy's" is a tradition in the Moellman family, as family members gather with Gordon & Analie Moellman at their home in Bay Village. This past Christmas is one they will never forget: Analie became a home care patient of Hospice of the Western Reserve. Although it was a holiday, his hospice nurse told Gordon she would have her phone on all day if his children had any questions as they arrived to his home for Christmas dinner.

"Just knowing I could make a call if I had any questions was so comforting to me," Gordon remembers. When asked what has been most helpful since they began receiving hospice services, Gordon said "I like the whole team concept. I felt that I had guidance for our future from the social worker; I knew we had nurses and nursing assistants who we could trust. It was really helpful to have a volunteer to come stay with Analie when I had to leave the house."

For over 10 years Gordon has been Analie's primary caregiver. Analie suffers from a degenerative neurological disorder that limits her communication and her mobility. Although being her caregiver wasn't always easy, Gordon took pride in the care he provided for her, "She took care of me for many years, now it was my turn."

Gordon Moellman is no stranger to serving others; he has done so his entire life. When Gordon first read about Hospice of the Western Reserve's Peaceful & Proud: Personalized Care for Veterans Program, he felt compelled to learn more. Gordon, a Navy WWII veteran and Commander of VFW Post #9693 in Bay Village, had found a new reason to serve: to help fellow veterans learn about services available to them and their families when facing a serious illness.

Gordon and his Vice Commander, Jake Schock jumped into action becoming members of the Peaceful & Proud Advisory Council. The advisory council, consisting of veteran organization leaders, veterans, volunteers, media and other community leaders, serves as a sounding board and makes recommendations to increase the effectiveness of the Peaceful & Proud program. While Gordon enthusiastically volunteered, he began to wonder if hospice might be right for Analie. "I had been searching for answers for Analie's care for a long time, and coming to the advisory council meetings triggered the thought that hospice and palliative care might be the answer," Gordon says.

Analie is now a resident at Huntington Woods Care & Rehabilitation Center in Westlake. While he confesses that he misses her at home, Gordon takes comfort knowing that she is in a safe environment and is well taken care of. Analie enjoys visits and regularly participates in activities with other residents.

Gordon feels optimistic and hopeful for the time his family has with Analie. He shares his experiences with friends, fellow veterans and parishioners, encouraging others to ask for help when they need it. Hospice turned out to be an unexpected gift on Christmas day.