Ramona and Louis were married in August of 1948. He was a Purple Heart veteran of World War II and worked at the same company for over 40 years. She worked the overnight shift so she could take care of their four children during the daytime. Their family endured perhaps greater than their fair share of tragedy. A house fire destroyed everything they had, followed by the loss of their eldest son at age 30 and then their daughter at 35. But their love and faith in each other never wavered.
When Ramona was placed into Rainbow Hospice’s care she hadn’t been awake for hours, but when Louis walked into her room their 60-year connection was still evident. She woke up, looked right at him and he held her hand as she took her last breath.
When Louis got sick, Rainbow Hospice was again called. By then he had stopped opening his eyes and was transferred to the Ark inpatient unit, where he stayed for three days. At the end, the staff kept reassuring his family that despite his almost constant sleep, he could still hear and it was important to keep talking, playing music and being present for him. On his last day, with eyes still closed his son Ron bent down to kiss him goodbye and Louis raised his fist, knuckles out – the sign of their lifelong greeting, a fist bump. He had saved his energy for a final message.
The devotion Louis and Ramona had toward each other and their family all through their lives highlights the purpose of hospice. Love and faith, especially during sickness and loss, shows who we are as people. The care that hospice offers makes beautiful moments, like holding a hand or a fist bump farewell, as much a part of the end of our life as it is during the rest of our life.