In Her Own Words: Why I Walk to Remember
BY: Holly Craider, Family Caregiver
CATEGORY: Testimonials; Volunteers; News and Community
I grew up in a single parent home, and my mom worked full time to support our family. As a result, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ home. I became close to both of my grandparents, but most especially to my grandmother. She was much more than my grandma; she was a second mother to me and my best friend.
My mother and I moved in to care for my grandparents when they became ill. Grandpa was diagnosed with mesothelioma after having been exposed to asbestos. Grandma got sick shortly after he passed away, also diagnosed with cancer. In both cases, when their illnesses advanced to the terminal stage, our family chose hospice care.
My grandparents’ doctors both recommended Hospice of the Western Reserve. We were told it had an outstanding reputation for its excellent patient and family care, and also for the support provided at its hospice houses.
Hospice of the Western Reserve made one of the toughest experiences in life something that I remember as being peaceful and full of love. At first, care for each of my grandparents was provided at home. At the end, both transitioned to David Simpson Hospice House. The employees became an extension of my family. They were genuinely invested in the wellbeing of our grandparents.
The care allowed our family to come together and enjoy special time with my grandparents. The staff introduced us to pet therapy and counseling services. The nurses made sure that we, as caregivers, were also taking care of ourselves. They kept me full of amazing tasty chocolate chip cookies that smelled just like the ones made by my grandmother.
I knew I had to do something to give back to the place that had given so much to my family and me. Walk to Remember provides a meaningful way to do that while celebrating the life of my grandparents and the love and gratitude I still have for them.
Each year, I form a Walk team. Last year, I served as the Friends and Family Chair, as a community ambassador. Each year, I also hold an annual Ugly Sweater for Hospice Party and this money goes toward the Walk’s proceeds. This past December, we doubled our fundraising amount to over $3,500.
I live my life guided by the conviction that people will often forget what you said and did, but they will never forget how you made them feel. The tears the nurse shed when my grandparents passed are a testimony to the people employed at Hospice of the Western Reserve. They made my parents and our family feel important and cared for. It is my honor to give back. I will forever be indebted to them for their compassion and quality of care.
Holly Craider, Ph.D., is Dean of Access and Completion at Cuyahoga Community College – Eastern Campus, and a member of the Adjunct Faculty, Speech Communications.