In my last column I was fortunate to share the writing of the article with my dear friend Toni. She wanted people to know how it feels to be a resident of Port Alberni’s Hospice House and had invited me for an interview. She had always been reserved about the bed program of the Alberni Valley Hospice Society and she definitely never intended to spend the last days of her life there. However she did move into Ty Watson House and it turned out to be a true home to her, where she learned how to live in dignity while facing her final days.
On December 19th 2010 Toni passed away. She did not live long enough to share her last Christmas with staff members and other residents, who now had become her family. With the support of this family Toni had come to the end of her journey in a way she had not thought was possible. She left me her thoughts in her own words she had recorded on tape. Toni wanted to share her words with you one more time in this column.
“It means a lot to wake up in the middle of the night and somebody is there to hold your hand. You have no idea what it means to make the transition with a smile, to be ready, to be happy and to be able to let go.”
Toni explains how a warm and cosy house with loving and caring people took away her fear and gave her the peace she needed. At first she had made the mistake not to take her health problem as serious as she should have. Finally she had to face the fact that she did not have that much longer to live and she most certainly didn’t want to go. But having to face the end of her journey, had also given her the opportunity to experience living in Ty Watson House and meeting so many wonderful and dedicated people. She even learned so late in life that a hospice house is about family values and about living in dignity, before you die with dignity. Having knowledgeable people at your side, putting things into perspective for you, while experiencing your life coming to its end, meant so much to her. For her there was nothing like Ty Watson House with its dedicated people, to help us better with passing on to the ones we leave behind, what is good in life and what needs to be remembered. For Toni the greatest of all she experienced was the peace in her final moments, when she would make the transition, she would not be alone.
What Toni liked most of the concept of our hospice house is, that it truly is a real home, a house like any other house, not a big facility, where you can live as if your were at home. She could not wrap her head around it, that Ty Watson House is not receiving any Government funding and that there are only so few of these houses. She wanted to ask the Government: Why? If she had had the strength or the time she would have gone to Victoria, or even Ottawa for that matter, to have a serious talk. She wanted to be our advocate, but her time ran out.
Toni died with the strong belief that we will never be really gone. Our heritage and our genes will stay alive, we will not be lost. We should not fear death, we will leave behind what we are. Toni was a fighter and she was always ready to fight for a cause. Her last cause was Ty Watson House and the hope for funding and more houses like it. She left us her words on tape, for you to read, before she made her transition surrounded by her new found family, in peace and with a smile.
Toni’s celebration of life was held Saturday January 22nd at Abbeyfield on the corner of Redford St. and 8th Ave.
If you would like to know more about Ty Watson House and the services offered by the Alberni Valley Hospice Society, please call us at 250-723-4478.